Sunday, March 04, 2012

SWG Coffee Social: New Perspectives

“New Perspectives,” my theme for February's SWG Coffee Social began when Monica of Monica's Tangled Web convinced me to add a "subscribe by email" option to my blog. I had an AHA moment when I realized just because I prefer reading my favorite blogs in Google Reader others may prefer different options.

The "New Perspectives" theme progressed throughout the month as someone in my circle was forced to retire before he was ready. It is a hard lesson and one all of us as should be aware of as we (or are loved ones) continue to work after full-retirement age. Despite feeling as though we are physically and mentally able to work our employers may feel otherwise. Once 65, if we haven't done so already, we need to begin preparing ourselves financially and emotionally for retirement. This particular person was not prepared and it has been hard on all of us. I contributed by doing what I do best: assisting with retirement paperwork and financial decision making.

 Here are a few posts/articles from around the web that changed my perspective in the month of February:

In Blaming Women Entrepreneurs Frau Tech writes about why she hasn't gone out and started a highly technical business:
Starting a business is like getting a job. It’s more about who you know than what you know. Many of my male colleagues have networks and contacts built up within the industry. Their opinions are trusted more on technical matters than mine are.
This was a real eye-opener into the importance of building a strong network early in your career and the differences between male and female networking opportunities. I was reminded of two engineering grads, one male and one female, the engineering company I worked for in the mid-nineties hired at the same time. The male was highly touted by his manager as the guy who is going places (I wrote about him in How to be more confident at work) while the female was mistaken as the coat check employee at a popular conference.

In could I work for a manager with a degree from an online school? Alison recommends the reader not put so much weight on an online degree without knowing the person. More interesting for me though, was the conversation in the comments on what term to use when referring to other females. The commenter's were opposed to girl, gal, lady and ma'am. I remember being chastised for referring to my female co-workers as girls at one of my professional association meetings; again just because a term like "girl" doesn't bother me doesn't mean others won't be offended. I was told to use the term "ladies" instead. Now after reading Alison's comments, I plan on using "women" or the gender neutral term "co-workers." Coincidentally, my new hairstylist calls me "Missy." I am sure she does this when she can't remember a client's name, but it sounds inappropriate. I suggest she brainstorm tricks for remembering names instead.

I am currently reading Annie Leonard's book The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-and a Vision for Change. After reading this book I may never be able to look at the paper my company throws away, a frozen meal (all that packaging) or aluminum can the same way again.

For a shortened version of the above book's message, I suggest reading Robert Reich's article in Christian Science Monitor: The biggest risk to the economy in 2012. It was recommended by Sarah at Citizen Reader in her post Tuesday Article: The real problem with the economy. In case you don't have time to read the article Sarah includes one of her favorite paragraphs:
The crisis of American capitalism marks the triumph of consumers and investors over workers and citizens. And since most of us occupy all four roles – even though the lion’s share of consuming and investing is done by the wealthy – the real crisis centers on the increasing efficiency by which all of us as consumers and investors can get great deals, and our declining capacity to be heard as workers and citizens.
Lastly if you are on Twitter, Bob Lowry's post I've been Twacked! (My Twitter Account was Hacked) is a must read. He writes of opening a Direct Message from a blogger he is friends with just before going to sleep, and all heck broke loose while he slept. His Twitter account was hacked. He gives advice on what to do if your account is hacked and suggests never opening a link in a direct message ever again.

I was feeling pretty lucky after reading Bob's post because I too had clicked on a link in a direct message; only my computer's virus protection software removed the virus before my computer became infected.

Then a couple of days after reading Bob's post my own personal hell broke loose. When I clicked on a blog I hadn't seen activity from in a while, my computer's virus protection software started going crazy and became inundated with pop-up screens. As I attempted to have Window's Security Essentials block the virus, my computer was taken over by Strong Malware and shut down. Luckily I had read Bob's post earlier and knew to immediately change my blogger, twitter, Google and email passwords. It took five days and a lot of swearing to get that computer up and running properly again. This consisted of booting my computer up in safe mode, restoring programs and settings to a prior day (restore wizard helped with this). Then removing the Trojan Downloader win 32/claret ore virus. After several security scans later, I believe my computer is finally virus free, though I am staying off the internet for the time being. In the future instead of seeking out a blogger/twitter who has dropped off of social media, I am going to assume they've been hacked and wait for them to reappear on their own.

And if my month couldn't have been any crazier, my two dogs encountered a skunk at 5:30 a.m. on a work day. After much cleaning and shampooing we are almost free of the horrendous skunk smell.

My only hope for March is that it is less disruptive. How about you? How was your February? Did you have any "New Perspectives?"


  1. Man, when it rains it pours! Glad you are on the other side of your virus and skunk attacks!

  2. Don't discount online degrees! My husband received his MBA from Xavier University and I received mine online from Upper Iowa University. I did more work and learned more than he did, and he spent double what I did.

  3. Your perspective are real and true. You are almost there having your success.

  4. Retired Syd,
    You can say that again. I know in the big scheme of things these are just inconveniences, but inconveniences I could do with out.

  5. Michelle,
    I am so glad you wrote about your on-line experience. I had a conversation at a scholarship committee meeting (this year’s scholarship winner attended an on-line university) about on-line degrees. Our committee chair had spoken to a student who attended both who felt the on-line program was much more difficult than the brick and mortar school. You don’t have the opportunity to learn from other students via classroom questions and commentary. I didn’t think I was close enough to the source to include her comments in my post. So thanks again.

    I have another question for you – do you feel you and your husband’s MBAs have been worthwhile? Increased salaries? Advancement opportunities? Opened doors that otherwise wouldn’t been available? I am meeting a friend tonight who received her MBA three years ago who feels it hasn’t done one thing for her career. She is very discouraged. I have been asking around and others feel the same way. Thoughts?