On Conferences

I was at SHRM, a big city-wide national conference last week.  The sessions were great, the key note speakers were fabulous and I feel like it was totally worth my time and (my employer’s) money.

However, I am growing old and judgmental so I feel the need to pontificate on some rules of etiquette that made me freakin’ crazy.

If you are a participant:

  • Show up to the session on time.  Being late is disruptive, particularly at a huge conference where the aisle seats are the first to fill up.

Even I have changed my mind after the introduction, and decided that this isn’t really the session I want.  In fact, last week I walked out of a 7am session because the speaker (in a theatre-style lecture hall) told us to “organize ourselves into learning groups”.  I scurried to the session across the hall and was much happier.  But seriously if you have to do it, minimize the disruption.  Which leads to:

  • Don’t eat in session.

I had a guy with a vending machine Egg McMuffin behind me.  It was loud (as he unwrapped a section at a time) and smelly and when he was finally finished he struggled to jam the wrapper into his empty water bottle for ease of not recycling.  That was several minutes of trying to control my blood pressure instead of listening to the session.

And don’t get me started on people that can’t drink coffee without slurping.

  • Shut up.
I was in a general session, listening to the keynote, (Malcolm Freakin’ Gladwell!) when three staffers (staffers!) sat in front of me and started texting and chatting.  (Texting is fine, as live-tweeting was encouraged, so we were all free to use our phones.  Chatting is clearly not.)  I nearly confronted them, but they left after 15 or 20 minutes.  That was the last time I sat in the general session hall.  After that, I found the rooms with the TVs and the bloggers.  They also had candy.
  • Stay until the end

I realize this one is tough.  Sometimes, we just have to pee.  And again, sometimes we realize that we chose the wrong session and there are many others available.  But out of courtesy to the speaker, please try.

Here’s one for the speakers:

  • Don’t tell me to take notes.

I understand you didn’t feel like creating a PowerPoint.  Not judging you for that.  You told us to print out your five-page handout before coming to the session.  Bad luck for those of us that don’t pick our sessions until we arrive onsite.  But we are adults and we don’t need you to tell us (over and over throughout the session) what to write down.  Are we going to be graded?  Is this on the final exam?

Overall, SHRM puts together a great program.  This was my second year attending and I cram in a whole lot of learning.  But the biggest thing I learned?  HR people have no better manners than anyone else.

HR Nerd Article

The Chicago Tribune ran an article about the changes to Flexible Spending Accounts due to the Health Care legislation.  The biggest deal is that next year, we will not be allowed to submit over-the-counter drugs for reimbursement without a doctor’s prescription.  They printed a decent Q&A:

Will I be able to use FSA money for:


Over-the-counter medicines without a prescription? No.
Medical co-pays and deductibles? Yes.
Medical supplies without a prescription? Yes.
OTC medications without a prescription purchased in 2010 but not reimbursed until 2011? Yes.
OTC medications without a prescription purchased in 2011 during my 2010 FSA’s “grace period”? No.

The point of the article was that FSAs are still a good deal.  We just need to understand the new rules when we sign up next time around.

Public Service Announcement – For the Ladies

Not long ago, I read an article that said 80% of women are wearing the wrong size bra.  So I went to the Nordstrom Lingerie department for a measurement.  I was one of those women.

At dinner with some girlfriends last night, I found that a non-zero number of my friends had also gone in to be measured recently.  (I wish I could cite that article.  We all must have read it.)  In one case, a lady who thought herself a B-cup all her life measured out to a DD. 

The right bra will make you look better and feel better and your clothes will fit better.  I can recommend Nordstrom.  Another friend that went there for a fitting said that she had previously thought Nordstrom an expensive “old lady” store, but she was very happy with the service and will be going back.  Another friend went to Tina’s Closet in Lisle and was very happy.  (Tina also does Girls Night parties on Wednesdays, if you make a reservation.  The calendar on her website suggests they are booked regularly.)

So go now.  Get a professional fitting.  You will be glad that you did.

Mid Week in Review

My niece, Ashlyn, was christened on Saturday.  Check out Ainslie.  Playing in the baptimsal font.  The priest said she could.  She got soaking wet  and got my brother soaking wet, as he had to carry her out of the church.  Heh.

During lunch afterward, I was reminded of a big-deal social faux paux that requires addressing:

Do not discuss a woman’s pregnancy with her unless you know her very well and are very, very sure that she is actually pregnant.

People – there are few more awkward situations than those between a woman and the fool that has mistaken her for being pregnant.  When Becky was pregnant, she actually taught this rule to her class of 11-year olds.  It is important.

Anyway.  I spent part of the day, the last four days in a row, at my brother’s house because my father is in town.  Monday was another of Alex’s t-ball games.  By yesterday, the kids were all cranky.  I’ve had meetings all week and seven more scheduled over the next two days.  Then I am on vacation.

And I am thisclose to booking something for this winter, too.

The Prices Don’t Always Go Down

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=leartojugg-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=B002QCJO0M&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrI remember being warned about the Amazon Kindle:

The prices of the books are more fluid.  The ones that are showing up as freebies today may not be freebies tomorrow.  Fair enough.

You might remember that back in January, I downloaded the Sookie Stackhouse 8-Copy Boxed Set.  It is the first eight books in the series that inspired True Blood.  I paid $28.80; more than I normally like to spend, (particularly for e-books) but a bargain if I really end up liking them. 

I was just scrolling through the bestsellers list on the Kindle and there it was again.  Number 163.  Selling for $55.99.

You have been warned.

Annoying Calls at Work

As you may know, I don’t like to answer the phone. I pretty much refuse to do it unless I happen to be looking at the caller i.d. and happen to recognize the number. Also, if I am convinced it is a sales call, I probably won’t return it.

I was tricked not too long ago by someone calling “regarding CNA”, the company that once held some assets for my employer. I returned the call only to find out it was a recruiter, and the “regarding CNA” meant that CNA had been downsizing and they had some great candidates for me to hire!

That’s how you get blackballed, gang.

So when the caller i.d. at work said “BETHLEE LTD”, I didn’t answer. There was a voicemail:

“This is Sarah. Please return the call to 847/913-1750.”

I didn’t return the call.

The next day, I received a similar call from “Sandy”.

I didn’t return the call. This went on for a couple more days. Finally, I Googled BETHLEE LTD. Google didn’t quite cut it, so I did a reverse lookup on switchboard.com. Unlisted.

Really? A business was unlisted? Now I’m serious. I Googled the actual phone number and got this:

http://800notes.com/Phone.aspx/1-847-913-1750

Some kind of By Appointment Resale Shop. For women’s clothing. And they are calling me at work? This is why I have a blog people. You have been warned.