Discussing Gun Control and Other Important Matters

At a conference last week, I walked in to the hospitality suite to find a group watching Fox News. I almost turned around and left. Somehow, I landed in a discussion about gun control that led to my feverishly Googling for statistics on my phone while my friend Tim did the same on his. I couldn’t find the chart I wanted, so I asked Facebook.

The immediate response from my friends was Get. Out. Of that. Discussion. But Bill found it for me:




Then my friend Steve, a conservative and a scholar, asked me to consider this one:




Which, of course, did not help my argument.

I went several rounds with Tim that night over statistics and several more with Steve the next day on a topic where people are unbelievably entrenched. With Tim, I had to concede that you can generally find statistics to prove anything you want. With Steve, I had to concede that statistics generally don’t prove Cause and Effect. But I left both of those discussions feeling good and believing that there are plenty of people on the other side of this issue that are also trying to be thoughtful and realistic and engaged. Here are my conclusions:

  1. We should all do a better job of doing our homework and considering different points of view.  This isn’t going to get resolved in one conversation, or with one new law. It’s going to take lots of conversations to hash out.  It is going to take some compromise.  And there might be unintended consequences to address.
  2. We will only be able to do that if we believe that we are all in this together.  Acting in good faith.

Sometime online, during the election primaries, I was on a thread about how the world is not going to end if “the other one” is elected.  No one is really moving to Canada and Texas isn’t actually going to secede from the Union.  We’d better find a way to work things out.

First Contact

Not long ago one of my people came in to my office to talk about her recruiting project.  She was starting to schedule interviews, but two of the five people she contacted hadn’t emailed her back.   Someone in her department suggested sending a follow up text.

I had an immediate, negative response.  After that, I wondered if I was being old school.

I am as flexible with the rules as any HR person can manage while still breathing, but in certain matters of etiquette I am complete snob.  For example, when I post a job on LinkedIn, I find a huge number of candidates will “Apply” without including a resumé or cover note.  “Why can’t you just go to the LinkedIn profile?”  I can.   For 14 seconds, which is more effort than the candidates put into the “application”.  And as a practical matter, that makes it really difficult to sort candidates for the hiring managers to review.  I understand this might be a losing battle.

So I asked myself why texting a candidate made me feel so icky.  I came up with the following:

  1. I refuse to write incomplete sentences to a stranger.  It is unprofessional.
  2. As the candidate would not recognize my cell phone number, I would have to open with my full name and my employer’s name before even getting to the point.  I realize a text isn’t limited to 140 characters, but seriously.
  3. It is theoretically possible that the candidate has a limit of some kind on receiving texts.  Thus texting a stranger is presumptuous.

I asked around my office, beginning with some of my youngest people.  I asked my people on Facebook.  And I started to feel more validated.  Then, I grew really bold and started asking job candidates the question during their interviews.  Hey – straight to the source, right?

My conclusion is this: we should be communicating with candidates in a way that is most comfortable for them.  If that turns out to be texting, then Fine.  But the only way to answer that question is by asking the candidate directly.  First Contact should not be done by Text.

In Which I Learn to Insert Tweets

For those of you not in Chicago, there is a major construction project on a major highway heading into the city.  An entire bridge is being replaced, and if I understand correctly, the plan was for the road shutdown and detour to require only three weekends.   This is the story.  Suburbanites were warned:

  1. You really don’t want to go into the city this weekend.
  2. If you do want to go into the city this weekend, take public transportation.
  3. If you don’t want to take public transportation, plan on major delays.

#Carmageddon.  Seriously.

This morning, a friend posted on Facebook that he had to be in the city for a work thing and he cruised right in.  Such that he was an hour and a half early for his project. Then I switched over to Twitter and saw this:

This isn’t someone I follow, but the Chicago Tribune re-tweeted it.

Now, I suppose that Ms. Manchir could have been referring to people in the passenger seat, or assuming that traffic was at a dead standstill – which she would know wasn’t true if she’d turned on a radio this morning – but I was bothered. I hit Reply and politely requested that Michelle Manchir and the Chicago Tribune not encourage the people that text and drive.   I went about my day, but checked back on it later.  Seems it was still bothering me.  The Tweet was still there (don’t know why I thought it wouldn’t be), and it looks like this reporter spent the day tracking the #Carmageddon story.  That wasn’t much of a story.

Incidentally, a few more people posted negative responses to the Tweet.  The snarkiest was:

Which I am ashamed to say made me smirk.  Then I went to my niece Ainslie’s baseball game this afternoon and the coach’s wife was saying that they went downtown this morning for their other son’s event and cruised right in (although the ride back was pretty bad).  Another mother said that she also drove into the city that morning and didn’t have any trouble.  And now ABC News is reporting that the project is ahead of schedule.   It is a good news day!

Want to see a great tweet about the I-94 construction?

Instead of trying to surface the cranky weekend commuters, I hope someone is doing a story on how a construction project of this magnitude gets done in such a short time frame with minimal disruption.  There are already some great pictures out there. How much planning it takes for engineers and logistics people.  How that fine made its way into the contract.  How many people working how many hours.

Knock on something, because it isn’t done yet.  But this is work that people can be proud of and, in my opinion, a story that a journalist could be proud to write.

Although to be fair, I’m not trying to sell newspapers.







Winter Rant

My office building has revolving doors on each side.  There are, of course, handicapped accessible doors with the automatic opening button next to them.  These double as emergency exits.

Some people like to use this door, because it is faster than using the revolving doors.  They seem to have forgotten the purpose of revolving doors:

To keep the cold air out and the warm air in the building.  (Or the reverse, in the summer.)

People seriously continue to do this in the winter.  I stopped eating in the glass ceilinged atrium because of the general chill and frequent gusts of cold air. 

So.  I went to Noodles tonight before heading to the library.  Noodles has a set of double doors for people to enter and exit..and a side door that leads to the patio-area in the summer.  For some reason – I presume it is the fire code – this thing is unlocked in the winter.

Two jerks used it while I was eating.  Apparently, they think that because they have  their coats on, it is ok to blast the cold air in on the rest of us.  Because I am cheeky, and a seriously regular customer, I stopped by the register and found the manager on my way out.  I said:

“For  the suggestion box:  I wonder if you wouldn’t mind putting a ‘Use other door’ sign on the side entrance..”

I hadn’t gotten all of the words out when she said, “I had one on there for five days.  You have no idea how many people ignored it.  I saw people read it and then go out the door anyway.  I tried locking it.  Someone broke the lock on the door…”

Broke.  The.  Lock.

(It’s fixed now, so don’t get any funny ideas.)

People.  It is winter now.  Winter is long.  Winter is cold.  Please show some consideration for the people around you.  Use the proper doors.  And close them behind you.

Political Rant

I’ve done some talking on this blog about my political identity.  I have referred to myself as a Cook County Republican, which means (to me) that I am a fiscal conservative and social liberal and can’t abide The Machine.

The reality is that I am inching more to the left every single day. (Don’t get me started on Rahm Emmanuel.)  

One day, in high school civics class, I was spouting conservative on something.  A friend asked how anyone as Pro-Choice as I could possibly be so Republican.  My response was,

“Roe v. Wade is over.  Decided.  Finished.  I don’t need to vote based on that issue.”

Even the teacher accepted that answer (although I expect he knew better).  But we all know the reality – conservatives have been chipping away at the decision for years.  And today I read this article about a court in NC blocking a law – a law meaning that a whole bunch of elected officials thought it was a good idea – requiring a doctor to present a woman seeking an abortion with:

  1. the ultrasound picture
  2. description of the features of the fetus
  3. the opportunity to listen to the heartbeat
Apparently, something similar happened in Texas, where the legislature required a woman seeking an abortion to listen to the heartbeat from the ultrasound.
On one hand, it is a complete outrage that state legislatures are pulling these stunts.  On the other, it is nice to know that the courts have it covered.
I like my judges liberal.  And if I have to vote for Democrats for the rest of my life in order to stack the courts…
I really hope it doesn’t come to that.

The State of Illinois Should be Ashamed

I’m not talking about the corruption, patronage and cronyisn.  I am talking about the apathy.

One year ago, our governor (a Democrat) was impeached and removed from office.  Because the month before, he was indicted for attempting to sell the seat in the Senate vacated by President Obama.

You all might remember that his predecessor (a Republican) is right this second serving time for abuse of office.

Yesterday was the primary election in the State of Illinois.  Our first opportunity to start turning this mess around.  The state budget deficit is among the worst in the country.  The sales tax in the City of Chicago is the highest in the nation.  We have a fill-in Senator and a fill-in governor – neither was elected to the office he holds.  And don’t get me started on the fill-in County Board President (I think he was technically elected, but only because his father very kindly won the primary for him before he died).  If ever there were a time to show up, it was yesterday.

Our voter turnout? 

Wait for it…..


I know it is “just” a mid-term election.  But please consider:

We all do so much griping about how we don’t like any of the candidates when we (theoretically) head to the polls in November.  But only 25% of us show up on the day of the primary?  And for a Democrat in Cook County-  Primary Day is Election Day.

Impeached governor?  I’m over it.  This turnout?  I am embarrassed.

The Best Financial Advice I Have Ever Heard

Liz Pulliam Weston at MSN has updated her article on $500 in the bank.  It is the reason that I read MSN Money.  So many people that are trying to build an emergency fund are intimidated by the traditional advice – to save six months of expenses for emergencies.  The idea of putting away so much is daunting, so we don’t bother to try.  The better idea is to start by squirreling away $500.  $500 will cover most of the unexpected expenses that derail our savings plans.  Car repairs,  A/C breaks down, the sweet potato that killed the garbage disposal…

Seriously, if you have been having trouble building your savings, please read this.