Thursday, October 9, 2014

Business Etiquette: How to sign off on an email

An interesting look at how to sign off (business) emails -- from an article on Forbes.  LOL: the article lists almost 100 ways people sign off for emails.


Before I dive into the list, here are my four general rules for signing off on emails:
1.  Don’t include quotes. They bog down emails and take up readers’ precious time.

2. Avoid oversized corporate logos. Sometimes we have no choice about this, because our companies insist we include these things, but if they are too big, they draw the eye away from the message.

3. Include your title and contact info, but keep it short. In most business emails, you’re doing the person a favor by sharing your vital information. But make it minimal. Mine just says, “Susan Adams, Senior Editor, Forbes  212-206-5571.” A short link to your website is fine but avoid a laundry list of links promoting your projects and publications.

4. Do include some kind of sign-off in the first email in a chain (once you’ve started a thread, you don’t need to keep signing off).

Favorite sign-offs:


All Best – Harmless.

All the best – This works too.

Best Regards – More formal than the ubiquitous “Best.” I use this occasionally.

Regards – Fine, anodyne, helpfully brief. I use this too.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Clearing a drain: baking soda + vinegar

If a drain is slow, the following method using hot water + baking soda; then adding hot water  + vinegar -- and then flushing with hot water, works great.  Sometimes, I will use a plunger beforehand; this sometimes loosens debris enough to unclog slow drains.

If the plunger method doesn't work, then:

  • Flush with hot water (pot or several cups of hot water)
  • Cup of baking soda with hot water to get it into the drain.
  • Let sit for 5 minutes
  • Add cup of vinegar, flush down with cup of hot water.
  • Close drain and let sit for 10-15 minutes
  • Flush with hot water.  

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Career: How to answer, "What did you earn in your last job?"

Some good advice on this tough question:

Interviewers aren't trying to be rude. They've just drunk a lot of toxic lemonade themselves. They'll say "We need your past salary information."

Really? You need it? I understand that people in Hell need ice water, my darling.
They don't need to know your past salaries. They just want it. As we tell our kids, Want and Need are two different things.

Tell them your salary requirement, instead. That's all they need to make a Yes or No decision about whether your salary requirements and their salary range are in the same ballpark.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Career: How to Spot a Bad Boss had a good article on how to spot a bad boss BEFORE accepting a job offer.  Because working with people is such an important part of job satisfaction, check this article out:

I’ve worked for some pretty bad bosses during my career. Some were managers who became my boss after I was already working in the job, but others were toxic bosses that I should have spotted before I even accepted the job offer.
Here are 10 ways to spot a bad boss – before you take the job:
1. They’re late for the job interview. I once sat outside a hiring manager’s office, waiting for my job interview. I waited. And waited. And waited. 45 minutes after the interview should have started, the hiring manager walked past and then stared at me. “Who are you?” he demanded. I told him I was his 10am interview candidate. He rolled his eyes. “Oh great. Another interview. Like I don’t already have enough to do,” he grumbled. “Fine. You might as well come into my office so I can get this over.” This hiring manager had not only forgotten about my interview, he also hated his job. A dangerous combination to avoid.
2. Their office is unusually disorganized. Earlier in my career, I accepted a job working for a manager whose office was a mess. Well, that’s an understatement. Her office looked like a tornado had swept through it. I should have spotted the telltale signs during my job interview: She didn’t have a copy of my resume or even the job posting, there were sticky notes all over her computer screen and desk, stacks of paperwork were all over her office, even her clothing and hair were messy. Unfortunately, her disorganization spilled over into how she managed people and managed her department.
3. They ask illegal questions during your interview. Does the hiring manager ask questions about how many children you have or if you plan on having any? Do he/she ask about your religion or your age? Hiring managers should always avoid asking any questions based on race, religion, gender, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, veteran or military status, and physical, mental, or sensory disabilities. That’s because these are all “protected classes” under most state law. If you’re asked any of these types of questions, it means the hiring manager either isn’t trained and experienced or may be unethical.
4. Other employees avoid the hiring manager. As you walk down the hallway to the hiring manager’s office or conference room for your interview, be aware of how other employees react to the manager. Are they friendly and positive toward him/her? Or, do they quickly turn around and walk away or dive behind cubicles to avoid being seen? Look for signs that other employees are afraid of the hiring manager or trying to avoid the person.

You get the idea, but read more here: 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Vitamin Supplements: A Scam?

Here is yet more evidence that vitamin supplements are not necessary.  While there is some evidence that Vitamins D and E are useful, causality has not necessarily been proven -- even for these vitamins!

Read more here:

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What Career Were You Supposed to Have?

Here is a fun quiz (and short, too!) -- that tells what career you were really meant for...  The quiz has yielded sensible results for various people we know.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Napa Valley - Center of 6.0 Earthquake...

A preliminary 6.0-magnitude earthquake rocked the San Francisco Bay area early Sunday, damaging historic buildings and portions of major highways, rupturing gas lines and water mains, igniting fires, and knocking out power to thousands of residents in the region. At least 170 people were injured in the quake, at least six critically, according to officials at Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa.  
The earthquake struck 4 miles northwest of American Canyon, California in Napa County at around 3:20 a.m. local time, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The quake was felt over a large portion of northern California, including San Francisco, with the strongest shaking experienced in Napa, Solano and Sonoma Counties. More than 100 aftershocks were reported after the earthquake, the largest to hit the Napa Valley area since the Loma Prieta earthquake almost 25 years ago, the USGS said.
Read more here (article includes a slideshow):

Friday, August 1, 2014

Ebola outbreak

The ebola news story is growing, especially with two American patients with ebola being transported to Atlanta.

The death toll from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has surpassed 700, according to the World Health Organization. It's the deadliest outbreak ever recorded. U.S. health officials are warning Americans not to travel to the three countries hit by the outbreak: Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
Amid fears that air travelers could spread Ebola to other countries, many are asking questions about the disease and how it is transmitted. Here's what you need to know about Ebola. The information comes from WHO and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Some Fun Tennis Points

Now that it is getting warmer, people are getting out and getting some exercise.  If you are a tennis fan, here are some fun tennis points for inspiration.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Do You Need New Tires?

Car tires are typically rated to last anywhere from about 40,000 miles and up.  Some performance tires are much lower, while other tires are built for long-lasting wear. Do you need new tires?  In addition to checking out the tread wear indicators (TWIs; if the bars between treads are the same height as treads, you definitely need new tires!), the old coin tests also work well.

Most tires start out with between 8/32 and 10/32 of an inch of tire tread depth. To help deal with such small increments of measurement, certain tire tread depth and tire wear indicator tests were developed for the average person to be able to check their tires.

Believe it or not, coins are great tire wear indicator. For example, just about everyone knows the tire tread depth “penny test.” Tires need to be looked over periodically to measure tread depth, and the penny test is fine in a pinch. It is done by holding a penny heads-up, upside-down and sticking it into the deepest part of the tire tread. If the tread comes up to the top of Abe Lincoln’s head, it means the tire still has 2/32” of useable tread, the legal minimum in most states.

There is also a quarter test that shows when the tread is safer (for hyrdroplaning. etc.).  

Similar to the “penny test,” the “quarter test” is a tire tread depth test that’s done by holding a quarter upside-down and sticking George Washington’s head into the deepest part of the tire tread depth. If tread covers Washington’s head, this shows that the tire has at least 4/32” of tread left and is still perfectly useable. Performance will not be as good as new tires would be when driving over standing water or in other adverse conditions, but it is not as severely compromised as it could be. In terms of tire wear indicators, if your tires pass the “quarter test,” the tire tread depth should still be relatively safe.

Read more here:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Grammar Tips

It's always good to brush up on grammar.  Here's a good article from this link.  Thanks to and the author, Daphne Gray-Grant.

1. Writing “then” when you mean “than.” The first is a description of time—“I wrote the sales letter and then I wrote the advertisement”—while the other is used when making a comparison—“I am more sick of this picky client than you are!”
2. Misspelling “bated breath.” If you write baited breath, everyone will suspect fishing is your favorite hobby. The word should be spelled bated, which comes from abated, meaning held.
3. Using “accidently” instead of “accidentally.” There are quite a few words with -ally suffixes (“incidentally”), and these should not be confused with words having -ly suffixes (“independently”).Accidently makes it into some dictionaries but it’s regarded as a variant. It’s wise to avoid variants if you can, because some people will become more concerned about your spelling than what you’re selling.
4. Writing that something has “peaked your interest.” We’re not talking mountain climbing here. The correct word is piqued.
5. Confusing “racked” with “wracked.” If you are racked with nerves, you are feeling as if you are being stretched on the torture device, the rack. You rack your brain when you try to write difficult stories. Wrack, on the other hand, has to do with ruinous accidents. With luck, this won’t apply to your writing, but it might just apply to the stock market, which has been wracked by recession.
Word usage
6. Confusing “into” with “in to.” The word into is a preposition (a linking word) that answers the question, where? “Donna walked into her office before noticing her CEO was sitting at her desk.” Note that the “where” needn’t always be a physical place—Donna could also “go into business” or “go into graduate school.” But, on those occasions where in and to just happen to end up beside each other, they must remain separate words. For example, “Peter walked in to see his supervisor.”
7. Misusing “literally.” If your boss said, “I literally felt like firing the entire department,” would you think she really meant that? No! She meant it metaphorically. Small comfort, I know, but help her retain at least a few well-trained staff by stopping her from ever using literally unless it’s the actual (literal) truth.
8. Confusing “edition” with “addition.” I know both words sound alike, but they mean totally different things. An edition is the form in which a text (usually a book) is printed, an issue of a newspaper or magazine or a version of something that’s a little different from the ordinary (for example, an experimental edition of a play). Addition, on the other hand, is what you do when you add up numbers (1 + 1 = 2), when there is an increase (“there was an addition to our taxes this year”) or when you expand your house (“the addition of the deck increased the value of our house significantly”).
9. Saying you made a 360-degree turn, when you changed direction. I’ve had many (otherwise bright) bosses say they made a 360-degree turn when they meant that they turned around completely. But think about it: If you turn around so that you’re facing in the oppositedirection, you’ve actually made a 180-degree turn.
10. Being redundant. Repeat after me: PIN stands for personal identification number. Therefore, you cannot say PIN number without being redundant. Similarly, CD-ROM stands for “compact disc, read-only memory,” DVD stands for digital video disc or digital versatile disc and ATM stands for automated teller machine. Thus, don’t repeat the word disc or machine. Furthermore, never describe your “favorite pet peeve.” Stick with “pet peeve” alone. “Personal favorite” is another noxious phrase. Can you ever imagine an impersonal favorite?
11. Failing to understand the difference between “hone” and “home.” To hone is to sharpen. You can hone a point but you home in on a target. This is why they don’t call those birds “honing pigeons!”
12. Saying something is a “mute point” instead of “moot.” Moot means open to discussion or debatable. Mute means silent. Much as we all might appreciate more mute points, they’re not only ineffective, they’re also incorrect.
13. Using “centered around.” Think about that phrase for a second. How could anything be centered around something else? The correct phrase is “centered on.”
14. The inability to distinguish between “e.g.” and “i.e.” The abbreviation e.g. is Latin for “exempli gratia” meaning “for example”. The abbreviation i.e., on the other hand, stands for the Latin “id est” meaning “that is to say.” So, you might write, “We like vegetables—e.g., broccoli, green beans and cauliflower.” Or you might write, “We like all vegetables—i.e., we’re healthy eaters.”
15. Misusing the word “penultimate.” This word means second to last: November is the penultimate month of the year. It does not mean “super-ultimate” (e.g., “He’s the penultimate father” is incorrect).
16. Using “irregardless.” While irregardless does appear in some dictionaries, it’s always listed as “non-standard.” That’s because it’s meaningless. The “ir” cancels out the “regardless.” Stick with plain old regardless.
17. Confusing “flush it out” with “flesh it out.” To flesh out an idea is to give it substance. But if you’re trying to drive a criminal, an injustice or bad behavior out into the open, you want to flush it out.
18. Using“could of,” “would of,” “should of.” These are all 100 percent wrong, born of our sloppy speaking styles—could’ve, would’ve, should’ve. What you want to write is could have, would have, should have. We all coulda, woulda, shoulda become better at grammar.
19. Using “me and somebody.” I tell my children that it’s common courtesy to put the other person first. Thus you should always say, “Fred and I went to the gym together,” or “Suzie and I saw that movie.”
20. Using “that” instead of “who” (and vice versa). If you’re writing about people, always usewho. If a company president says, “employees that are affected by layoffs will be greatly missed,” no one is likely to believe him because he’s treating them as objects by using the word that.
21. Using “they” when referring to a business. “Starbucks said they would give everyone a free latte today.” Although this might sound right, the correct sentence is: “Starbucks said it would give everyone a free latte today.” And if that grates on your ears, then rewrite the sentence to avoid the problem: “Starbucks is offering everyone a free latte today.”
22. Using “orient” and “orientate” in the same piece of text. Both words are correct, meaning to determine one’s position with reference to another point or to familiarize (someone) with new surroundings or circumstances. That said, the latter choice is British and widely considered “incorrect” in the U.S. Bottom line: If you spell theater (rather than theatre), you should also useorient.
23. Using “toward” and “towards” interchangeably. Both words are correct, but again, the latter is British and the former is American. Which you choose depends on your audience. And whatever you do, be consistent.
24. Using “it’s” when you mean “its.” This is a mistake I see every day—whether on the Web or in print. The rule is so breathtakingly simple that everyone should learn it’s stands for it is. The possessive version, “The dog chewed on its bone,” somehow prompts people to throw in an errant apostrophe. Whenever I see it’s, I always reread the sentence to ensure the correct meaning is it is.And when I see its, I reread the sentence to ensure it doesn’t mean it is.
25. Using a random apostrophe. Is there a worse mistake than “The photo’s are for sale at 50 percent off”? Remember, apostrophes are used only in two cases: to signify a letter has been omitted (in “it’s” it represents the missing “i” from the word “is”) and to signify possession (“The dog’s dish of water was spilled by the anxious owner”).
Don’t use random apostrophes—or make any of these other mistakes—or you’ll be rotting your readers’ socks.
A former daily newspaper editor, Daphne Gray-Grant is a writing and editing coach and the author of 8½ Steps to Writing Faster, Better. She offers a free weekly newsletter on her Web site, the Publication Coach.This story first appeared on

Monday, March 10, 2014

Career: Traits of Top Talent

Here is a good article about top talent at a job.  Some of this is common sense -- but it is worth repeating...!!


  • Try to improve process by rapidly acquiring and integrating new information
  • Foster an environment of process improvement rather than blame
  • Remain calm and composed under stress
  • Can manage completing assignments with competing deadlines


“Top talent” recognizes when he is the best person for the task and when it’s critical to join others and work as a part of a team.
  • Follow through on commitments
  • Strong communication skills
  • Don’t take negative feedback personally
  • Don’t take credit for good results
  • Get along well with others
  • Not fearful of incorporating team members with superior expertise for a superior outcome

Adept problem solver

“Top talent” doesn’t hesitate to fix a problem.
  • First to offer to help
  • Come through fast and over deliver
  • Offer creative, innovative solutions
  • Inspire others to take action
  • Consistent
  • Provide a new approach to solving problems


“Top talent” knows her talents and doesn’t need to broadcast them to fellow employees or to their superior. This personality exudes confidence but not in a way that intimidates others. Their calm tone and mild manner draws people to them and makes it easy for others to come to them for help and to open up to them about challenges they face.
  • Embrace others’ better ideas
  • Learn from failure
  • Step back to see if someone has a better point


When faced with a problem as a team member, “top talent” intuitively knows the appropriate time to step in or step back; s/he focuses on the project’s success, not on a rigid leadership structure.
Great leaders tend to be inclusive, humble, self-directed and mission focused and inspire others to action. An employee who exhibits leadership ability is generally well respected by co-workers. They have demonstrated competence and are often known to seek feedback (both positive and negative). Top talent shows genuine concern for the well being of the group.
“Top talent” NEVER Says:
“It’s not my job”!

Read more:

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Honey, I Shrunk the Snow: No, It Won't Snow 30 Inches this Weekend

There have been rumors over the past two weeks that it could snow 30 inches this coming weekend in the U.S. Northeast (weekend of February 9-11, 2014). Here is what we predict:

On Saturday: there's a chance for snow showers to small accumulations.

On Sunday: it will probably snow and there could be a dusting to a few inches.  

There IS an outside chance that this develops into a bigger storm (6+ inches) -- but most likely not.  

It seems like there was a news report of a potential monster storm a YEAR AGO -- that a news outlet mentioned.  The news outlet showed the weather graphic with the scary-looking 30 inch forecast for areas around New York City, the Northeast, and as far south as Washington DC.  

People saw the graphic without reading the article (which mentioned this was news from last year based on just a possibility...)...  THIS, combined with the timing of this weekend's storm system made people think it was true!  BUT it appears like it is just a news story about last year -- that went viral...  

BUT -- you never know with Mother Nature!!  Be safe...