Re: The Decider

1

I obsess and construct ridiculously complicated plans for possibility A, and then equally complicated plans for possibility B, and then perhaps another set of plans for A but what if we did it this other way, and so on and so on until I'm completely exhausted and realize that I made the decision a long time ago and have moving forward and waiting for it to fall into place and oh look, here it is.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 12:50 PM
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I put off making decisions until somebody else gets frustrated and makes them for me.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 12:52 PM
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I usually feel...drifty, and go with my gut. My choice of grad schools in retrospect was utterly arbitrary, as was my choice of college, and my post-college job. They just sort of...happened. Knowing this inherent arbitrariness, I try to expose myself to a lifestyle that has opportunities and failsafes, and hope for luck and unconscious ambition.


Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 12:54 PM
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I trust my gut.

A professor from Columbia University was struggling over whether to accept an offer from a rival university or to stay. His colleague took him aside and said, "Just maximize your expected utility--you always write about doing this." Exasperated, the professor responded, "Come on, this is serious."


Posted by: joeo | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 12:54 PM
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That's awesome.


Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 12:55 PM
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4 is awesome.

2 gets it right.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 12:56 PM
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Mostly gut. I end up just doing things, and rationalizing them after the fact. I normally buy my own rationalizations -- that is, the explanations I come up with after the fact for why I did something sound like good reasons, or even if not good reasons a fair portrayal of my actual reasons, but I don't formulate them ahead of time often.

This is probably a good spot to say that due to work demands I'm going to be around a lot less, at least for awhile.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 12:57 PM
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The hardest thing to understand is your own desires; I try to keep clear in my mind narrow goals on which I do not want to compromise. Then I force myself to thnk analytaclly about disaster aversion. The rest I trust to improvisation, some planning, advice-seeking if necessary. Best to want as few simultaneous objectives as possible. Unfortunately, I seem to want both freedom and stability.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 12:57 PM
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I use the age old method of going by a gut other than my own, viz, sacrificing a chicken and looking to see whether the entrails are auspicious.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:01 PM
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For big decisions, I'll just let it sit for a while until it becomes clear to me what I want to do. Conscious deliberation just confuses the issue for me. Sometimes I'll run it by someone. I talked to my mom and exbeforelast before proposing, for example. Sometimes I'll just ask a couple of friends "Would it be crazy to...?" More important than how you make the decision is the discipline to never second-guess yourself; once it's done it's done.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:02 PM
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I would say that my decision-making style is...... bad. Which mostly amounts to avoidance, but with the gnawing feeling that that's wrong.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:03 PM
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I basically take the same tact as B, but with additional exhaustive consultation with others, in which I systematically deconstruct whichever option they advocate, just to hear myself shoot them all down, and then gradually realize I made the decision weeks ago and have been playing rhetorical games since then. I also find that the option I deconstruct more rigorously tends to be the one I have settled on.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:05 PM
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Three words: Welcome to Thunderdome.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:06 PM
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the same tact as

Tack.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:07 PM
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I'm mostly like LB in 7.

I'm a terrible procrastinator, but the things I end up doing I tend to just do, I construct wonderful justifications for them after the fact. I give other people really excellent advice on their decisions, though.

I do think the after the fact justifications are often just a making explicit of the various thought processes that have been going on before-the-fact that we're not always able to make completely clear to ourselves or others until later. It's not pure gut instinct, but something involving both that and some sort of diffuse quasi-conscious deliberation.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:07 PM
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The brother of one of my good friends, whenever he has to make a Big Life Decision, takes a week off and re-reads the entire Dune series first.

Apparently it usually helps.


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:07 PM
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Here is some more from my link in 4:

Social psychologist Timothy Wilson and his colleagues once offered posters to two groups of women as a thank you present for participating in an experiment. In one group, each woman simply picked her favorite poster out of a selection of five; in a second group, each was asked to describe her reasons for liking or disliking each poster before choosing one. Interestingly, the two groups tended to take different posters home. Four weeks later, they were all asked how much they enjoyed their present. Those who had given reasons were less satisfied and regretted their choice more than those who had not given any. Here and in similar experiments, deliberate thinking about reasons seems to lead to decisions that make us less happy, just as consciously thinking about how to ride a bike or put on a spontaneous smile is not always better than its automatic version.


Posted by: joeo | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:08 PM
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The hardest thing to understand is your own desires

This is very true. A series of question it helps to ask (particularly with respect to career and family decisions) is "what do I want to be doing when I am 40 or 50? Does this help me get to that place?" Likewise, it can be useful to ask yourself in what circumstances you will look back on a decision with regret and in what circumstances with satisfaction. This has been useful to me, at least.

For decisions involving money (housing, jobs, choice of political candidate), I typically create an excel model with a couple of scenarios. No lie. It's rare that you make any decision on a 10% difference, but it is comforting to know the stakes. Also, it helps you avoid making mistakes of the interest only ARM variety...


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:08 PM
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I trust the gut, because it seems to take into account everything I know, my resultant future happiness, and whatever pervy inclinations I'm not willing to admit to myself (pissing people off, thrill-seeking, etc.). I almost always immediately know what I want. If I go on to think about it, I get trapped in quagmires of thoughtful deliberation and utility-maximizing.

That said, Malcolm Gladwell is still welcome to suck it.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:10 PM
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A PSYCHOLOGICAL TIP

Whenever you're called on to make up your mind,
and you're hampered by not having any,
the best way to solve the dilemma, you'll find,
is simply by spinning a penny.
No -- not so that chance shall decide the affair
while you're passively standing there moping;
but the moment the penny is up in the air,
you suddenly know what you're hoping


Posted by: Piet Hein | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:11 PM
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no, tact. B and I are equally tactful. Or not, as the occasion warrants.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:11 PM
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For big decisions, I'll just let it sit for a while until it becomes clear to me what I want to do.

In my mind I frame two alternatives, one of which requires initiative and one of which is passive. I then wait to get in the mood to take the initiative. If I take the initiative before whatever deadline there is, it's done. If I fail to do so, I effectively have decided not to do it.

This method drives people nuts to the extent that my life impacts theirs, of course. One reason to limit that impact. I'm always talking about maybe doing something.

By this method most options are not taken, but a few are. There's no rhyme or reason to what happens.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:13 PM
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I'm a terrible procrastinator, but the things I end up doing I tend to just do, I construct wonderful justifications for them after the fact. I give other people really excellent advice on their decisions, though.

One downside on this is that it breaks down on decisions that you're genuinely conflicted about, and that you have frequent opportunities to change your mind about. I have at least once in the past run into a situation where I "just did" wildly self-contradictory things at about six week intervals for quite a long time, and treated some people very badly in consequence. I eventually had to constrain myself by taking some actions that would make changing my mind again impossible.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:15 PM
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Oh, 19 is true except where it involves the unknown desires of others. Like, should I have a birthday party next week? I could ask people, but they will just say yes to be polite, and disaster will inevitably strike, as it does at all my birthday parties (one year ended with quite a lot of stuff on fire, people taking their clothes off and running around outside, my best friend making out with my boyfriend and then accusing him of attempted rape, my other best friend's boyfriend calling me to express horror and loathing, and no one I knew speaking to me for about six months so we could pretend the evening never happened).


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:16 PM
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Edward Gorey wrote that one up, didn't he?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:17 PM
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I'm a little mercurial and it depends on the decision. I decided to go to grad school one afternoon when I was bored with my consulting job. For the wedding planning I made a spreadsheet that compared the different locations and costs varying with the number of guests.

I tend to research the hell out of any option, but I'm not much of an optimizer so I don't agonize much after the fact.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:18 PM
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lw's 8 seems to speak my mind.

Particularly the Unfortunately, I seem to want both freedom and stability.

The need for stability calls for disaster-control. I plan in that regard. And I plant a vegetable garden.

Otherwise, I find it important to leave enough freedom for movement that unexpected things may occur.

This is not the greatest plan, according to the conventional wisdom, but life is what it makes of you. It's really not the other way 'round.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:19 PM
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7: didn't you just win a quarter-billion dollar suit? You're entitled to coast for the rest of the year, at least.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:22 PM
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Looking back, I'm not sure I've had any really big life decisions to make so far. But when I am needlessly agonizing over two choices, I flip a coin. If I feel badly enough about the coin's result that I disregard it, I decide that was my hidden preference.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:23 PM
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11 is right and 17 is interesting.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:24 PM
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Hm, poem-pwned.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:25 PM
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I've found 20/29 to be true. A very similar approach: I'll ask my wife to decide. Somehow it almost always seems that once she's decided I'm clearly happy or unhappy with her choice (despite my being terribly torn before). If I'm unhappy with her choice I'll go with the opposite.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:26 PM
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You wouldn't say that if you knew what I bill. Our bonuses are on a strict by-how-many-hours-did-you-exceed-the-target basis, and I don't think there are enough hours left in the year, if I slept in the office every night, for me to make our target. (Not that the target's unreasonable, just that my billing sucks.) And I'm our RICO guy on a motion to dismiss a 120 page complaint in another quarter-billion dollar suit due at the end of the month. If I don't start making some progress, I'm entirely screwed.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:26 PM
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33 to 28.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:27 PM
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I carry dice in my pocket, and I use these to make all sorts of decisions during the day. I find that they accrue in such a way that I don't have to make large decisions at all.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:27 PM
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with additional exhaustive consultation with others, in which I systematically deconstruct whichever option they advocate . . . the option I deconstruct more rigorously tends to be the one I have settled on.

Ayup. For some reason people find this sort of thing annoying, though.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:28 PM
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35: 20-sided dice? Because that would be bitchin'.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:28 PM
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29: Totally. I've taught this to PK (who, poor kid, is also a neurotic overthinker) when it comes to things like ordering in restaurants: decide on A, and then imagine how you'll feel when A comes to the table. Are you glad, or not? That tells you what you really want.

The problem of course is that this doesn't work with anything much more complicated than "do I prefer a hamburger, or a salad?"


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:30 PM
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I do gut also. The times I've trusted my instincts and not others were the times I've been most happy with my decisions. The times I've gone against my instincts (in life choices, relationships, etc.) are the times I've made a mess of things. I'm with ogged on never second-guessing. I've actually had to use my own spin on myself before, in order to get through rough patches resulting from risky decisions. Everything turned out ok in the end.


Posted by: Joe Drymala | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:31 PM
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I exercise absolutely horrendous decision making at eateries. Because I don't have the time for the extensive quibbling and consultation that I like, I go into total panic mode when the server arrives and almost always settle on some third thing that hadn't even been in the running. And then I lament it when it arrives.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:33 PM
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I have never second-guessed a decision I made impulsively and irresponsibly, like going to grad school or taking the first apartment I looked at. It's the damn decisions I gave practical consideration to that haunt me.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:34 PM
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I have never second-guessed a decision I made impulsively and irresponsibly, like going to grad school or taking the first apartment I looked at. It's the damn decisions I gave practical consideration to that haunt me.

Right, the former are just "that's who I was at the time" things, while the latter invite all sorts of "if only I'd weighted this factor slightly differently."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:36 PM
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33: can't you just explain to your reviewing attorneys that you're a big, bright, shining star and those bonus rules don't apply to you?

Alternatively, realize that it's possible to bill over 700 hours in a month, if you sleep very little and commit only moderate amounts of billing fraud. I don't know when your billing-year ends, but I'm confident you can get there.

And dump your new RICO motion to dismiss on your lackey. He could probably benefit from the experience.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:41 PM
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42 and previous: about second-guessing.

Regrets happen.

If anything, one wants to conduct life in such a way that there are no regrets.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:45 PM
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Jesus, the lackey. The last two weeks of August, I was working on other briefs and throwing research projects at him so I'd have memos to refer to for this brief. I was looking at them, but not reading all the cases -- I didn't have time. Now that I'm trying to write from them, they're godawful -- cases that come out the wrong way, that don't say what he says they said; oy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:45 PM
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37: Your d12 cries itself to sleep.


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:48 PM
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Sounds like the lackey did negative work. You should get his billing hours credited to you.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:48 PM
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Oh, his stuff isn't absolutely useless. It's faster finding the cases you need if someone's already found unusable cases on the same point; I'd rather have the memos he's done than nothing. But they aren't good.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:51 PM
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Haul him in and yell at him!!


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:53 PM
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"that's who I was at the time" things

This sums it up for me. I've made a pretty standard array of Big Life Decisions (school, career, marriage, divorce, marriage, mortgage, kids). I never found any of these decisions particularly hard, mostly because I have no trouble putting off big decisions until I'm absolutely certain I know what I want. For me, the decisions pretty much make themselves - or a situation resolves itself without input from me.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 1:54 PM
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I tend to ask the opinion of all my trusted advisors (3 or 4 friends, my boyfriend, and my sister), argue with them about the various ups and downs, and then go with what I initially wanted to do anyway. Although in general, I don't have much difficulty making decisions, big or small, although I would have had to had I been offered a job at a law firm. I am very glad that I didn't have to decide, 'cause I probably would have listened to the voices that said "just go make money for a couple of years" and done it.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 2:00 PM
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Is this from some "101 Topics for Starting Discussions On Your Blog" book?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 2:02 PM
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Gut, almost every time. If a decision requires any deliberation then I talk it out with Rah. We're both terrible decision-makers so it gives me something to while my gut formulates a response.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 2:02 PM
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I definitely trust my gut. I read a study somewhere saying that most of the time deliberation doesn't change your initial impulse, and when you're acting on very little information (as is the case with the most important decisions in life) you might as well just not waste the time.

Forgive me if I've been pwned somewhere already.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 2:04 PM
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I'm really good at making rational, methodical, cost-benefit type decisions for other people. But if I am making a decision for myself, I always wind up going with my gut and then regretting it.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 2:05 PM
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Definitely "try to avoid making decisions." My last major decision was to propose marriage, in 1984. Since then I have exercised my natural right as the leader of the household to delegate all desisionmaking to my wife.


Posted by: unimaginativeguywhocantthinkofawittycybernym | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 2:05 PM
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I put a lot of effort picturing what life would be like on each path in the Decision Tree. Then check in with my mushy feelings about what concerns and fears or pleasures are raised by each scenario. Then figure out which criteria I value, and how it relates to the fears/pleasures. Then evaluate the scenarios and pick.

For example, that is how I decided to apply for teaching positions instead of research decisions, or how I've come to end relationships.

It's not super quick, but it's not just spinning your wheels either.

Also I like to rank things.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 2:05 PM
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54: But I thought you didn't *have* a gut, pdf. Or believe in them.

52: I think it's supposed to be a topic we can't possibly fight about. Which I have just proven wrong! Bwahahaha!


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 2:06 PM
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Case it point: We totally bought the wrong house for our situation and budget when we moved to Cleveland. If this had been someone else's decision to make, I would have seen clearly that it was the wrong decision. But since it was all me and my family, all I could think is, "This house seems like it will be so much fun!"


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 2:07 PM
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Now that I'm trying to write from them, they're godawful

The solution here is simple: slip him some sleeping pills, then take a picture of him with your balls on his head (OK, I don't have a good solution for your lack of man-parts). Post online. Profit!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 2:09 PM
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pdf: The Dutch study of the way Chess grandmasters make decisions may help your case here. I don't feel like looking it up.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 2:09 PM
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"This house seems like it will be so much fun!"

You should've made clear to the prior owners that the moose head with the sunglasses was included with the house.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 2:10 PM
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Spreadsheets, lists, asking friends, debating with myself, and ultimately being dissatisfied is my usual route. It took me six weeks of shopping to buy my first bed, which I still own, and which is still too firm.

When my boyfriend dumped me and asked/told me to move out, I was in a panic to find a new place to live. Normally, I'd spend months agonizing, trying to find the right neighborhood, checking online and newspaper ads, etc etc. This time I moved in two weeks, the fastest ever in my 35 years. And I love my new place. Blind panic has its benefits, apparently, when one is unused to trusting one's gut.


Posted by: wrenae | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 2:10 PM
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Speaking of quick decisions, I decided two nights ago to go to Spain, and booked tickets yesterday. So now I have eight days (arriving in Madrid, but with a hazy notion that I'll want to head south) to design as I please. Any suggestions?

(N.b. I speak decent Spanish, but have never traveled abroad. I'm going at the end of this month, and traveling solo.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 2:13 PM
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Oh, and, like some others above, I use my gut while being, I think, good at helping others work through. I think the key to this is that you're not really helping them weigh options: you're helping them figure out their true desires.

It's not clear to me whether my regret-free lifestyle has more to do with making good decisions or just not being the sort to regret things. I unintentionally got myself fired a couple years ago, and never looked back. Only last week was the first time that I've really benefitted from that decision, and I'm sure other people would've been gritting their teeth about it often (like when the bills can't be paid...). But, you know, Hey. It's all good.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 2:14 PM
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Wow, go Witt!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 2:15 PM
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64: I recommend Granada. Just so pretty, and the Alhambra's very worth seeing.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 2:15 PM
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Case it point: We totally bought the wrong house for our situation and budget when we moved to Cleveland.

Aw, I'm sorry to hear that.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 2:16 PM
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I don't have a good solution for your lack of man-parts

Other people do.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 2:18 PM
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On decision-making in restaurants: as some of you may recall, I'm a reviewer, and am faced with this weekly, in a fairly high stakes (for the restaurant, anyway) way. I can usually trust my gut - I have very strong and clear cravings, even when not actually hungry, so maybe 4 times out of 5, I know what I want on the first perusal of the menu. But some menus are really good, and I struggle. Then I play the rational game (I shouldn't always get the pork, this restaurant is supposed to have good pasta, etc.), and often end up making a snap decision with the server present. The rational part only works if I really don't care.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 2:18 PM
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69:
and you were able to make it comment 69. i'm sure there's a hidden meaning in there somewhere...


Posted by: blortch | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 2:28 PM
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I bailed on buying a house after we had put in an offer. Two offers came in at the same price. They were calling all of the owners to accept our offer and I got cold feet. My wife was pissed, but we bought a much better house 4-5 months later. I am lucky we found the other house because house prices continued to spike up.


Posted by: joeo | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 2:30 PM
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I initially I'm analytical about my choices then I let them ruminate sub-conciously until the deadline, occasionally allowing a thought to pop up and consider. Surprisingly, this has worked well for me. The problem is when there is no deadline.


Posted by: terpbball | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 2:31 PM
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64: Granada, Cordoba and Segovia are quite nice, but Madrid itself is a very cool city and I'd recommend leaving some time just to explore it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 2:37 PM
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71: Serendipity.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 2:44 PM
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68: It's not all bad, we just spent more than we should have, and there is no good way to get from my home to office on public transportation.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 2:46 PM
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I don't make spreadsheets. I just obsess, & default to the risk-averse thing until I'm close to certain about making the change. I've never quit a job without having the next one lined up, for instance.

Stupid things I do are the result of procrastination & missed opportunities, not being impulsive.

When it comes to stuff like shopping & restaurants I'm a model of decisiveness, though.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 2:48 PM
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we just spent more than we should have

You evil, greedy, person. Why don't you care about the poor?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 2:49 PM
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64 Find a guide book that you like at the bookstore, then plan 50% of your trip, leaving the other 50% to improvise.


Posted by: terpbball | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 2:55 PM
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In a restaurant, I try to order the most interesting-sounding thing that I've never had before. Because, like, the penalty for blowing the decision is what? I try it, I don't like it, so I eat something else sooner rather than later. I've never understood people who can't choose someting off the menue in less than half an hour, quaking the while.

But in Life's Big Decisions, my algorithm is
1.) Deny that a decision needs to be made
2.) Get angry that I might have to make an important decision
3.) Bargain: try to twist the situation to avoid making a decision.
4.) Get depressed that there's no avoiding making a decsion, at which time I realize that I know which way I'll choose. Also be depressed about all the shiny along the path not chosen.
5.) Too late to change my mind now.


Posted by: joel hanes | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 3:00 PM
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I find "too late to change my mind now" comforting.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 3:01 PM
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"Too late to change my mind now" can be comforting if it's really too late -- ie evaluating yesterday's decisions. But it doesn't really ever close off current or future choices, although interestingly many people behave as if it does. To a lot of people we're still in Iraq because it's too late to change our minds now. Same things with weddings, jobs, locations--pretty much all the other decisions. Yesterday's decisions can of course change the calculations for today's decisions, but a lot of people treat yesterday's decisions as if they made today's decisions.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 3:07 PM
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I'm terrible at making big decisions. My usual strategy is to discuss the pros and cons of each option until whoever I'm talking to (my wife, usually) is sick of talking about it. I find I can argue against any option pretty effectively, but after a while it starts to become clear to me which one I really want to choose.

Little decisions, I just go with my gut. Right now I'm trying to pick classes for this semester and next, which is somewhere between little and big in size, and so I'm starting the process of driving myself crazy.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 3:10 PM
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This thread's topic is a compelling one for me right now, because in a few minutes I'm off to four hours of interviews at which a startup and I will finally decide about each other. Lots of unknowns; the only sure thing is that if I get an offer and say yes, I'll be working too hard (again) for a couple years.
The last startup I did was by turns: great fun, too intense, heartbreak, exhilarating, and exhausting. It ultimately failed. Am I ready for another? Really, only if I think it will succeed. Will it succeed? It's hard to make predictions, especially about the future.
80:
I see that my spelling tends to deteriorate under stress.


Posted by: joel hanes | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 3:20 PM
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82 With the exception of weddings, not sure I agree.


Posted by: terpbball | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 3:23 PM
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Joel, when the time comes to finally make up your mind, ask the Mineshaft. Look how much help we've been to Teo!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 3:23 PM
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Yes, look at how much help they've been to me. Look long and hard.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 3:24 PM
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The Mineshaft only helps those who help themselves.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 3:26 PM
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That's exactly the problem.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 3:27 PM
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Yesterday's decisions can of course change the calculations for today's decisions, but a lot of people treat yesterday's decisions as if they made today's decisions.

I have this theory that there are a small number of easily understood, but not widely understood, concepts that improve the lives of everyone exposed to them. "Sunk costs" is one of those concepts.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 3:30 PM
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"Long and hard".

Heh.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 4:05 PM
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I think that "sunk costs" is actually too counterintuitive to be widely understood. I also think that, because of that, it's often misapplied - people use it to dismiss sunk costs entirely, and then make goofy decisions (non-literal illustration: "While I've made 59 of 60 payments on this car, those are a sunk cost, and I should switch to a lease on a new car that I'm currently coveting").

All that said, I do think it would be useful if everyone at least had heard of the concept.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 4:06 PM
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Ooh - a decision I can't make: I've always just used the site feed here. I could switch to the comment feed, but that strikes me as dangerous. Right now it's easy enough for me to skip entire threads (should I be admitting this?), thus saving minutes. But I occasionally miss not just good, but really interesting, stuff that way.

Advice?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 4:09 PM
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Actually, I should confess that I am unclear on the concept of a sunk cost. As JRoth points out, not all investments made in the past count as sunk costs. I understand intuitively maxims like "don't throw good money after bad" and "try to recoup on investments" but I can't articulate the criterion for when to apply each maxim.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 4:10 PM
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93: Advice?

Go back and read the archives from the beginning.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 4:14 PM
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Isn't "sunk costs" the same as "cutting your losses" or "don't throw good money after bad"?

In other words, if you've lost $1000 on something so far, you shouldn't put another $100 in it unless you're confident of a net profit on the $100. You shouldn't say "I can't afford to lose the $1000 so I'll put in even more money", unless the new investment will be profitable.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 4:16 PM
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It has become increasingly clear, in retrospect, that I chose my college because its name sounded the coolest.

Recently I saw it beating out some of my other choices in a ranking of colleges with the best names (aesthetically, not reputationally) and this made me feel alot better.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 4:16 PM
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Given that you'll be saying the name of your college a lot over the next four years, and possibly even more after that, a cool name seems like a reasonable thing to take into consideration.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 4:19 PM
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33 -- Oh, LB, I hear you on the hours! If misery indeed loves company, know that you have company. AT the end of the year, it's the quantity, not the quality, that really counts...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 4:23 PM
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94/96: it's not just that--it's basically just the idea that you should ignore all already-spent and non-recoupable costs in your decisionmaking calculus. So, yeah, don't thorw good money after bad--your $1000 is already lost--but also don't let past costs hold you back. The classic example being if a city is building a bridge that they expect will cost $20m and bring $25m in benefits to the city, but then halfway through construction they realize their calculations were faulty and the bridge will only bring in $15m in benefits (so with a $20m cost is a net loss to the city). Does it make sense to go ahead and throw $10m more into a losing project? Yes! Because the relevant calculation now is $10m in costs to obtain $15m in benefits (a net gain)-- the first $10m is already spent, it's a sunk cost that's not coming back and should be ignored.

Admittedly the "don't throw good moeny after bad" examples are more common and probably more intuitive.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 4:28 PM
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Yeah, my working style is really poorly suited for billing by the hour. I can turn out better work than plenty of other lawyers at my level, and about as much if you measure it by the task, but the 'about as much' is composed of a whole lot of fooling around and wasting time, compensated for by bezerk fits of efficiency when necessary. There's no honest way to bill that by the hour that makes me look good.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 4:28 PM
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96: Like I said, the don't throw good money after bad part is clear enough to me. Given your example, I can also see why JRoth's example is a fallacious example of how to apply the sunk cost fallacy. (!) The 59 payments on your car are a sunk cost, but now it only costs you one payment to get full ownership of a car, which is a much better deal than leasing.

But let's leave the world of fake examples and try to find actually cases where clinging to past bad investments counts or doesn't count as an instance of the sunk cost fallacy. I took a seminar on global oil depletion two summers ago, and one of the things I was told is that the big oil companies would prefer that the next energy source be natural gas, or some other fossil fuel, so they can recoup some of the trillions they have invested on the oil infrastructure. This seems like good reasoning, and not a case of the sunk cost fallacy, but it is nevertheless phrased as if it were exactly a case of the sunk cost fallacy.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 4:29 PM
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100 helps.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 4:30 PM
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102: non-recoupable is key.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 4:32 PM
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Yeah, my working style is really poorly suited for billing by the hour.

I sense that The Mineshaft is subtly being blamed.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 4:37 PM
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Is there anything The Mineshaft can't be subtly blamed for?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 4:38 PM
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101 is exactly right (and was sort of what the first paragraph of 43 was getting at).

I'd really can't stand billing my time. Here's your work, you are happy with it--why the fuck do you care how long it took me to do it?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 4:38 PM
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LB, perhaps you are putting too much emphasis on billing honestly. If a client's papers are somewhere on my desk and I'm at my desk, I figure they're fair game.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 4:40 PM
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Why do lawyers charge by the hour, anyway?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 4:40 PM
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Before someone reports me to the bar I should note that 108 was a joke. I shouldn't have to say that, but some of you seem to have a hard time telling sometimes...


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 4:45 PM
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Clients, understandably, want to control costs, and what we do is often difficult for a layperson to comprehend and difficult for us to justify. I can write one summary judgment brief that takes me a couple of hours, because what I'm really doing is mostly a search and replace on the last similar one I wrote. I can write another one that takes me an all out effort for a month. Charging a client by what the motion is called isn't going to work at all; charging by what we think it's worth is going to be hard to sell to the clients. So charging by the hour is comprehensible and justifiable.

I think it also creates a whole bunch of perverse incentives, which I brood over as I sulk in my office, but the basic reason is pretty clear.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 4:46 PM
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109: depends on a lot of factors (nature of work, nature of clients, level of experience, part of country). Anywhere from roughly $50 an hour to $1000+.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 4:46 PM
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We will be visiting one Brock Landers quite unexpectedly.


Posted by: The Legal Inquisition | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 4:46 PM
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111: Makes sense, I suppose. I think I tend to underestimate the importance of justifying things to clients because we mainly work on contingency.

112: I suggest you take a closer look at 109.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 4:50 PM
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111: well, yeah, I've been explained the rationale. I note that Wachtell doesn't bill clients by the hour--they do it by the job. And they seem to make it work. I'm not at all sure that "rationale" isn't in some ways just a thin pretext (though probably usually not a conscious one) used to support those "perverse incentives". But that's neither here nor there. I'm not expecting it to change, I just personally don't like it. If I were the slow and steady type things would be different.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 4:51 PM
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I'm not at all sure that "rationale" isn't in some ways just a thin pretext (though probably usually not a conscious one) used to support those "perverse incentives".

Oh, absolutely, me neither.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 4:52 PM
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114(b): oops.

I think I'd love working on contingency, were there any contingency work I'd love doing.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 4:54 PM
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Works on contingency? No, fee!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 4:56 PM
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I work in exactly the asme fits and spurts as LB. Contra 108, that means that in practice what I actually do is work all the fucking time, never see my wife or kid or get enough sleep or doing anything fun, all in order to achieve a *very* modest number of annual hours. Many co-workers put in much less time and bill far more, but I just casn't make myself sit here and work for 9 or 10 (or, erm, 3 or 4) hours straight every day.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 4:59 PM
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I so, so truly feel your pain. I'd blame it on Unfogged, but I'd be doing something else if it weren't for Unfogged. I just don't have that much focus in me in any given day.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 5:06 PM
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Blame it on unRain.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 5:09 PM
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120: right. I wasn't any better (well, only marginally better...) before I started spending so much time here; I just wasted my time in less entertaining ways.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 5:10 PM
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118 - Heebie shouldn't have that Bar Association logo there, either.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 5:12 PM
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try to find actually cases where clinging to past bad investments counts or doesn't count as an instance of the sunk cost fallacy.

The path of the vagus nerve (brainstem-heart-jaw) in the giraffe. Sensible in the ancestral vertebrate, not so in all of its descendants. The backwards retina, and the crossed optic nerve pathways. The fucked-up state of pharmaceutical patents, which is broken, but no-one with a stake is willing to pay to preserve their stakes under new rules, better to fight rule changes.

These are all cases where the cost of an improved arrangement is enormous now, and the benefit is realizable only over long time scales. The solution is to start over; the horseshoe crab, for example, evolved by adding anatomically distinct eyes while keeping the old ones rather than choosing one best.

The lesson for an individual life is only sometimes a hopeful one.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 5:14 PM
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I chose my college because its name sounded the coolest.

Destroyer goes to Philander Smith College?

I chose mine because, having been wait-listed at my top choice, I could opt for going 30 miles from home, or 3000. Most of my decisions are similarly ill-founded, and it's only heavy doses of good luck that have kept me from making irreparably bad ones.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 5:15 PM
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I think I've mentioned this here before, but I went to law school rather than graduate school solely because the applications were due first. I truly couldn't decide between the two, and thought I'd postpone the decision a few more months by applying to both. But once the law school apps were all done, well, I just didn't feel like going though that process again.

Most people I mention this to seem to think I'm joking.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 5:19 PM
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I was thinking Destroyer went to Beaver College, but those spoilsports changed their name in 2001.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 5:35 PM
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those spoilsports changed their name in 2001

Pussies.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 5:38 PM
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101 succinctly summarizes about 90% of why I'm no longer in private practice. Also 119. Timesheets suck, and timesheets plus some semblance of a conscience really, really sucks.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 5:46 PM
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My school was part of the conference in which Beavers and Trojans go at it every season, but I didn't attend either of the relevant schools.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 5:48 PM
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Whatever ladies are around make the big decisions for me, and I never argue or complain. They also make most of the little decisions. Recently a question of changing positions, selling the house, and moving to another state came up. I said:"Whatever." and meant it.

I try to manage most of my life so that whatever choices I have to make can be randomized or arbitrarily routinized.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 6:01 PM
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And I understand you've outsourced the decision of when to hit the streets with an axe handle to Ezra and Matt.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 6:02 PM
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133:I am trying to imagine anyone objecting to my doing so, especially since MY and Ezra will not outsource that decision for themselves. It is not as if they would follow me. It is not as if anyone would follow me.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 6:21 PM
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Destroyer, you will regret your choice to attend the Maharishi University of Management. St. Norbert, Transylvania, and Misericordia are all great names for schools, but you went too far.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 6:22 PM
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It would be more interesting if you were able to securitize your decisions, rather than routinize them. Can you assess the risk of your actions rationally, bundle similarly risky decisions and sell shares?


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 6:23 PM
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133 sums up the problems with revolutionary movements purely through self-referentiality. McManus: genius!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 6:23 PM
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135: no.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 6:24 PM
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137 expanded:
Can you assess the risk of your actions rationally

No.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 6:26 PM
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137: No what?


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 6:27 PM
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A lot of contingency, boy-are-we-lucky-if-we-manage-to-get-paid-for-this-one-day work requires you to track your hours too (e.g. if there are multiple firms/lawyers on the case, & their agreement depends on time.) Much of the pain-in-the-ass-ed-ness, and a lot more risk.

But the work's more interesting, of course, which helps a lot. The thought of putting in Bigfirm hours on Bigfirm billable stuff is horrifying.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 6:27 PM
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Ah.

Well, okay.

Plus, you might end up with an unsustainable mcmanus bubble.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 6:28 PM
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Hee! TJ is funny, and perceptive.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 6:29 PM
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/momentarily deblurking

Jesus, this thread adds new dimensions to my perceptions of y'all. Amazing. It's like the fest going on at Bitch's (a personal fave) place today.

If I wasn't on sabbatical I'd hand out my card.

Research in the not too distant past indicated therapists, when faced with their own challenges, tended not to seek out the assistance of cognitively oriented peers as much as those with whom they could express their "gut" feelings. Reason shmeason. Yo, #17.

/resuming downward gaze, returning to the chair


Posted by: the psycho therapist | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 6:33 PM
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I endorse 74, except have not been to Granada or Segovia. If you're planning on going to some of the big museums in Madrid, be sure to find out which days they're open.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 6:40 PM
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Barcelona is cool.


Posted by: cdm | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 7:14 PM
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145: FUCK YOU, MAN! THAT'S A LIE!

Sorry, trying to disrupt the comity. Any other utterly uncontroversial statements will similarly be met with invective.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 7:17 PM
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OT: Has anyone linked to this? It's pretty fascinating.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 7:29 PM
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It isn't cool. It's freaking hot.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 7:29 PM
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one of the things I was told is that the big oil companies would prefer that the next energy source be natural gas, or some other fossil fuel, so they can recoup some of the trillions they have invested on the oil infrastructure. This seems like good reasoning, and not a case of the sunk cost fallacy, but it is nevertheless phrased as if it were exactly a case of the sunk cost fallacy.

As you have phrased it - "to recoup some of the trillions" - the infrastructure cost is, in fact, a sunk cost and Big Oil wouldn't behave this way. But the Big Oil conspiracy theory isn't based on the idea that they want to recoup sunk costs, it's based on the idea that they want to maintain a competitive advantage by keeping entry costs to their business high. They have a bias toward an energy source that they can control.

(Though in that scenario, one might argue that the expenditure on oil infrastructure is a sunk cost for society or the economy, and should thus be disregarded.)

The obvious current example, as Brock mentioned in 82, is the lives expended in the Iraq war. The president argues that because we have expended these lives, we have an obligation to expend more to justify or honor the earlier expenditure. Not so, say some of his opponents: Those lives are a sunk cost and we should judge our continued involvement in Iraq purely on the cost and benefit going forward. (Other war opponents might reject the sunk cost argument, and instead argue that we have an obligation to honor the dead by ceasing to be fucking morons.)

An example that I like better involves drug development. Imagine two companies, one that has spent a billion dollars developing a treatment, and another that spends a million dollars. Both treatments are otherwise functionally identical in every respect. As a matter of pricing strategy, how should those development costs figure into the price that they charge for the treatment?

The correct answer is those costs shouldn't figure into their decision at all. In each case, the companies should price their product to maximize profts or minimize loss. The optimal price will be identical for both companies.

The U.S. has generously decided to pay more for drugs than other countries, so the drug companies charge more - but those companies are still happy to sell their wares in Canada, and will charge even less in Africa.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 7:46 PM
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Have fun at Harvey Mudd, destroyer. That peach donut guy is just over in Glendora, so you will be well fed.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 7:47 PM
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All of these guesses are very amusing.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 7:53 PM
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147. "The Holocaust was bad enough, without making things up," Dr. Yablonka said.

Unintentionally comic genius.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 7:54 PM
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Donut Man!


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 7:55 PM
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151: to be honest, Rammster B. Assreem Technical College just isn't very well known outside of the deep south.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 7:59 PM
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I think the best unintentionally comic line from 147 has got to be "I Was Colonel Schultz's Private Bitch."


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 8:16 PM
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"oh, you certainly do know something, Schultz."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 8:17 PM
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I just don't have that much focus in me in any given day.

I work for a company that does contract programming work, so I deal with a lot of the same issues in tracking billable time and the thing that frustrates me sometimes is that the quoted sentence is, inmo, completely true and that so many people refuse to recognize that in either themselves or others.

The eight hour day is not a good standard for jobs that require uninterrupted focus. On a day like today where I spent a lot of time talking to people and passing information back and forth eight hours is fine, on a day when I am head down in a programming job 2-3 hours of really productive work is about par, 4 hours of working hard is a productive day and 6 or 8 hours of intense focused work is something I've done and it's brutal, I can't walk in a straight line after a day like that.

In practice you just find ways to stretch 3 hours of productive work into an eight hour day, but that hardly feels like the ideal solution.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 8:27 PM
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I'm also in contract programming, often, and my solution is that once or twice an hour I get pinged and note what task I am, notionally, working on, regardless of whether I'm in focus mode or not. I assign billing hours based on that, not on hours of focus. I think it's honest - the original notion of billing hours is just a proxy for overall length of the project, and as long as my estimates and work match up in that regard, it's all good. You don't suddenly owe 8 hours a day of focused work just because you started counting carefully.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 8:43 PM
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As a matter of practice I do that as well but, returning to the subject of the thread, that is a decision I end up second guessing.

It's also frustrating when you're working on multiple projects and are aware that one project has been getting a much higher percentage of non-productive hours. That's really when I get myself in trouble because then I try to make up for it by trying to put a bunch of quality work into the project I've been neglecting and burn myself out.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 8:51 PM
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All of these guesses are very amusing.

My guess: Slippery Rock.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 8:52 PM
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A lot of contingency, boy-are-we-lucky-if-we-manage-to-get-paid-for-this-one-day work requires you to track your hours too

Certainly, and I don't mean to imply that the lawyers at my firm don't track their hours; they do. It's just that their fees are deducted from negotiated settlements (or, much more rarely, awarded damages), so explaining the breakdown of fees to the clients isn't such a big deal.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 8:55 PM
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At what sort of law firm do you work, teo?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 9:00 PM
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160: When I noted that the list was compiled by aesthetics, not reputation, I neglected to point out that there seemed to be a strong correlation.

But now I feel like I'm lamely trying to impress my pretend internet acquaintances.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 9:01 PM
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At what sort of law firm do you work, teo?

Consumer.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 9:02 PM
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But now I feel like I'm lamely trying to impress my pretend internet acquaintances.

No shame in that.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 9:03 PM
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Like products liability?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 9:04 PM
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I think lots of people would like to get rid of the billable hour, but no one has figured out a way to do it that doesn't impose unacceptable risk on one party or the other.

I'm filing a summary judgment reply tomorrow on a fee issue: the client, a lawyer, won a contingent fee case, and his client is suing saying that the agreed upon fee is too high. Not because the percentage is too high -- all agree that it's a commercially reasonable figure -- but that if you take the total amount received, divide it by the number of hours (they didn't keep track, it's an estimate) you get a high number. Guess what -- not the business model. But the client is insisting that you get to look back on a per hour basis, and essentially re-write the agreement.

If this catches on, a lot of contingent fee work is going to look like too big a risk.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 9:08 PM
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158 is an interesting strategy. I don't have to bill my hours, but sometimes I wish I did, simply to keep myself honest. I'm not sure how I would measure up with the pinging strategy. I generally have at least two browsers open, one with work, and one with not work. (I bet a lot of you are like this.) If you catch me when I am staring at the not work browser, it will often take me a second to remember what I was doing in the work browser. Am I working?

I also frequently hit this pattern: I am working in a word processor, and find I need to look something up one line. So I open Firefox. While opening Firefox, I think, I'll check on Unfogged. Then I read a thread for a bit before I think "I should be working" and close the browser to go back to my Word document. Once in the Word document, I think, "what was I doing...oh yes, I need a piece of online information, that's why I opened Firefox."

Eventually, the papers get graded.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 9:14 PM
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Like products liability?

Some (mainly car stuff), but also debt collection and credit reporting issues.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 9:35 PM
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Before Katherine's comment and CharleyCarp's I was going to suggest that LB look into the plaintiff's bar.

I'm told that billable hours are fairly new. I think that they came in around the same time that schools started awarding J.D.'s instead of L.L.B.'s. People used to just write we'll bill X for a certain amount of fairly simple work and Y for the more complicated stuff. Clients wanted to know exactly what they were paying for, but it doesn't seem totally unreasonable to me. (BTW, I can imagine working in-house for this reason. Private practice without billing hell.)

Brock, how does Wachtell do it?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 10:15 PM
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I need help with a "decision."

As some of you know, my boss gave me a third and final warning. Company policy says that I can't transfer to another store (and probably not to another team). the assistant store team leader who might be about to get promoted was very clear on that.

At least two of the warnings were total bullshit, but there was a legitimate issue concerning my productivity; I'm not really fast enough, and I think that my boss may have decided to find fault with me over little things and to take things personally, because she thought I wasn't trying. That and the fact that she feels abandoned when she puts time into training people and they leave--even if the job outside the company is a better one.

One person from my old store told me to fight the warnings, but I want to do that in a non antagonistic way.

The Store Team Leader will be out of the store a lot, because he's going to be working on the Wild Oats merger. (I don't know how that managed to go through. I thought that there was some weird mathematical formula, and if the FTC said that you were going to be a monopoly, then that was it.)

Beer and Wine guy and a couple of other people have told me that STL is a good guy, hard-working and a man of integrity. I've arranged to talk with him on Saturday.

I want to ask him for help transferring either to another store or to another team within our store. This requires bending the rules and his pulling some strings, and it depends a lot on the willingness of a store team leader to overlook the warnings.

I think that one of the stores where he worked in the past might be willing to overlook it based on his personal recommendation, and there is at least one Who/le Bo/dy team leader at Fre/sh Po/nd who totally discounted the warnings, because they were coming from S.

What's a good way to approach him.

I want to let him know that I need his help, that I think I'm a good employee (team member) who needs to work on things, but is still a good employee, but I think that it may not be possible for me to perform adequately in my current situation. Do I just say that there's a personality conflict.

Part of me wants to say that S. has a history of writing people up, and you should look at that etc., but I think that only courts find that sort of thing persuasive. It sounds legalistic.

I do need to look for another job, but the stress of my current position is slowly killing me. There are moments of respite, but mostly it's horrid. I can't really focus well enough to plan my next move, so I think that a transfer would be my best bet for now.

Does anyone have thoughts on the best way of approaching this? I'm off tomorrow, so I can check back in.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 10:33 PM
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Is there something about the position you want to transfer to that makes it a better match for you? (Other than escaping the current evil). Some story you can tell that makes it worth his while without him necessarily having to buy into a theory that S is bad?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 10:43 PM
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avoid decisions, rely on fate. was born into good caste, so it's worked thus far.


Posted by: fnook | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 10:47 PM
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172: He knows that S. is bad. I won some movie tickets in a raffle, and he joked that I got them for putting up with ATL M. M said, "Wait, I'm the nice one." And he said, "Okay, the other one."

Some story you can tell that makes it worth his while without him necessarily having to buy into a theory that S is bad?

I can't think of one. Most of the other options involve possibly worse hours (though more predictable 2-10 hours which would allow me to plan for interviews and networking), departments I'm less interested in or more expensive and longer commutes. I can't even apply for another position without his help, and I wouldn't get any help from my current team leader.

The new ATL actually said, "everyone knows that BG and S don't get along." I think that a Rep had let it slip to the TL at the New/ton store to which I had applied.

The message I'm tempted to convey is, "I'm willing to do almost anything, work in any department to get away from this woman. Please help me do that." I'm pretty sure that that's the wrong message. I don't think that I have much in the way of leverage. I'm pretty expendable.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 11:03 PM
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Even if he knows what's really going on, a pretext that doesn't make him both bend transfer protocol AND actively side w/ a lower ranking employee over a higher ranking one may be useful for his sake. I don't know enough details to come up with a good one, though.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 11:14 PM
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In other career-related questions.

I saw a job listing at H/B/S. One was working on research analyzing provision of financial services to low-income people. Full time. That would probably last two years.

The other was part-time, but once in I think that I could get another part-time gig. It said that the ability to read French or German was a plus. My German is shit, but my French is pretty good, and Har/vard offers free classes. I'd have a chance to work on improving my German.

The professor thought that knowledge of STATA was a plus. I don't know shit about statistics. Not learning about statistics is one of the things I most regret about my college career. (The professor was consistently badly ranked. A High 4 meant that the lecturer was hugely popular. 3's reflected mediocrity or difficult core courses. 1.2 was--even if you think taht student evals are often dumb--pretty solid evidence that the guy sucked.)

How hard is it to learn STATA? I'd love to take a course in statistics, but is it possible to run it without actually understanding statistics?


Posted by: Bostonaingirl | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 11:21 PM
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I'm off to bed, but I'll check in tomorrow.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 11:24 PM
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I'd be interested in the answer to that, too. Some of the jobs that interest me most are looking for social sciencey stuff that I don't have: STATA or other statistical packages, GIS, that sort of thing. They assume candidates would have learned that stuff from a BA or a MA.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 11:27 PM
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I can only speak to my specific industry (pharmaceutical and medical trials), but it's almost entirely SAS rather than STATA. The learning curve for SAS is awfully steep, though.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 6-07 11:47 PM
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168: Every profession has its version of this.


Posted by: elemund | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 12:00 AM
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How hard is it to learn STATA? I'd love to take a course in statistics, but is it possible to run it without actually understanding statistics?

I am not being funny here, but if you don't understand statistics, you really shouldn't be messing around with STATA. It's like saying "how hard is it to start up an orbital sander, if you don't really understand much about antiques restoration?". Just learn damn statistics already. It is hard and not fun but useful.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 12:18 AM
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174: Assuming in company transfer: You've mentioned that S's reputation is known. So you have an excuse right there, but one excuse is obviously not good enough, or they would have dealt with S long ago. Can management see that you've made them more money over time than your replacement would? If so, you should be free and clear; from what you've said about contacts at other stores it seems that you might have an out here. If not, you should be looking at graceful/profitable exits.

P.S. If the only issue is walking from Fresh Pond to Alewife at 10:30, Tuesdays through Thursdays I could give you an honor guard. In parade dress, of course. You'd have to dress appropriately, too, or I'd feel silly.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 12:23 AM
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by the way, any good backgammon book will tell you a principle which has much more general application - that time spent choosing between A and B, where they are difficult to distinguish, is almost always better spent looking for C which is better than both. 174 and 171 refer.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 12:28 AM
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It is hard and not fun but useful.

The problem I found with learning stats was using it enough to keep on top of it. I found learning the actual stuff pretty easy [although I had already written philosophy seminar papers on probability theory* and stuff so the basic maths/concepts weren't alien] but since I only ever have call to make use of stats very very rarely, I basically have to relearn it all again every 3 or 4 years. Which is a pain in the arse.

* Ramsey, De Finetti, Bayes, Kolmogorov, all that good stuff ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 1:06 AM
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Witt, 74 is on the nail. If you're going for 8 days, you might well have a hard time getting out of Madrid once you get into it. In that case, prioritise Granada, otherwise, if you're in eastern Andalucia, a day in Cordoba is well worth while, and Sevilla needs is worth two at least. Spanish trains are cheap and reliable, but mostly slow. The AVE from Madrid to Sevilla or Corboba, however, is like Concorde on rails and charges accordingly.

Food is good and affordable if you eat animals. If not, be clear that what you order doesn't contain chopped raw ham (serrano), which is often used as a condiment, so waiters forget to mention it unless specifically asked. You can get a good dinner for free in Granada from the tapas if you drink enough. Most other places, they charge for them.

Lonely Planet and Rough Guide are OK for Spain.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 1:35 AM
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We went to Granada last year. It's a great city. We were there for 6 days, though, and, to be honest, we could have probably seen everything we wanted to in about 3 or 4.

OneFat is right about the free tapas in Granada. Lots of bars would present us with tasty delicious stuff along with our drinks. Also, another impressive thing, was the number of kids playing flamenco. I don't mean people playing for tourists, but several times, out late at night we passed groups of teenagers sitting together in some quiet side street or alleyway playing and singing.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 1:39 AM
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Madrid is a young, energetic city full of partiers and all night discos. In terms of more conventional tourist stuff, the Prado is the main attraction, I think.

I would recommend Toledo, which is not very far from Madrid. It's a medieval walled city perched on a hill.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 2:17 AM
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When I changed jobs recently, I actually did draw a diagram to represent the chances of failure in either versus the rewards, with an offset for cognitive bias towards risk aversion.

Then I asked Dsquared.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 4:34 AM
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188. Last time I heard this gag it was Feynman. Daniel should be honoured.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 5:28 AM
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176: Not to contradict dsquared, who's kind of generally right from a career planning/intellectual integrity point of view, and I don't specifically know STATA, but I'm sure you could pick it up enough to follow directions from someone who did know the actual stats. I had a job like that in high school -- using SPSS to do statistical analysis I didn't understand for a professor, and it wasn't particularly difficult to pick up. (Now, she probably should have been fired, because she didn't understand the stats either (I have a traumatic memory of explaining how a standard deviation worked to her, and realizing that she had no concept of basic algebra) but doing my job to her satisfaction didn't require actual understanding.)

If you go that way, I'd try to pick up some quick and dirty STATA experience, and then do like dsquared says and learn some stats for real once you've got the job, because you won't be able to go anywhere with the experience unless you understand what you're doing, but there's no real reason you have to do it in the right order.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 5:35 AM
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good God, is someone accusing me of intellectual integrity? ignoble thought. It's just that with statistics packages, it's really, really easy to embarrass yourself if you don't know why you're doing what you're doing, and as a google search for "david+kane+for+fuck's+sake" on Tim Lambert's blog will reveal, the stats crowd are really, really really mean to people they suspect of faking the funk.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 5:39 AM
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Sure, but BG's not looking at a job where she's going to be the one with a reputation hanging on it -- she's looking to be someone's assistant. Learning how to use STATA on a cookbook level will get her through the sort of "Run stats X and Y on dataset Z" that the job sounds like, and she can catch up her understanding later.

Now, if the prof doesn't know what they're doing, that's a real problem, but it's not BG's problem.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 5:49 AM
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my husband spends as much time with STATA as he does with me--I think his RAs use it & pick it up reasonably quickly. LB sounds like she's on the right track.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 7:00 AM
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Wild Oats merger. (I don't know how that managed to go through. I thought that there was some weird mathematical formula, and if the FTC said that you were going to be a monopoly, then that was it.)

WF/WO convinced the FTC that the relevant "market" included traditional grocers and places like Wal-mart (since they are carrying more and more organic and "natural" products and are therefore competing for the WF/WO business). Against the broad grocery market, the WF/WO merger is small potatoes, and so was approved. If the market had been defined as specialty upscale oganic/"natural" grocers, it would have failed the market concentration tests and been rejected.

I worked heavily with STATA at an economic consulting outfit where I worked during college. It's not terribly difficult to learn. Even though the commands will all be completely foreign and non-intuitive at first, you'd be able to pick up basic (and probably even reasoanbly advanced) functionality very quickly. Based on my limited experience with it, I think SAS is probably a lot harder to pick up.

The bigger question is whether you could do the job without the statistics background -- if you had little understanding of what it was you were doing with the data sets in STATA. Obviously that depends on the job. LB's right that some jobs could be done by a STATA-trained monkey, but keep in mind that's also likely to be much less interesting work. Just punching commands into a statistics program all day without really understanding what's going on or why sounds dreadful. This probably also depends on exactly how much about statistics you do or don't know.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 7:18 AM
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In 194, "Based on my limited experience with it,", "it" s/b "SAS".


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 7:19 AM
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Well, the job listing seems to have disappeared overnight, so it's probably been filled. It just said, "Experience with STATA a plus," at the very end of the description. Way before that it said that the ability to read French or German was helpful, and my French is still pretty good. I'd need a dictionary for business terms, of course.

There's one left for a professor writing case studies on the role of the leader, but the poverty finance one seems gone. There's also a general listing for research associates from all backgrounds (they mean 22 year-olds in humanities or science fields). That post date was a lot earlier. I should apply, but I find writing a cover letter to a central hiring committee much harder than writing one that looks like a specific professor is going to read it.

There was a lurker who sent me an e-mail a while ago suggesting I look into it--because that's what he was doing-- but when I asked him for tips on how to get in, he said that it helped to know someone. That's how he got his job. He didn't offer (probably because he wasn't in a position to) to help me set up an informational interview.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 8:53 AM
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This one I think I'd actually be qualified for:

Project will entail research on the business leader's specific responsibilities, in three broad categories economic, legal, and ethical, and the conflicts that may arise in attempting to uphold those standards in the boardroom, the courtroom, and the court of public opinion.

Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 9:06 AM
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My question was more rhetorical than anything. They didn't actually convince the FTC. They convinced aa district court judge and an appeals court that the relevant market included traditional supermarkets and Wal-Mart. I'm just surprised that the Court didn't defer to the FTC more.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 9:11 AM
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198 is right... didn't realize it was rhetorical.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 9:19 AM
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Sobe!


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 9:23 AM
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Oh, and 158 and 159 seem partly right but partly wrong. Or maybe you're just ess lazy than me. Of course I'm not going to stop billing if I momentarily lose focus while working for a client, or find my mind wandering or something. And I don't deduct ninety seconds every time a colleague walks into my office and chats briefly about her weekend plans, or whatever. On the other hand, I clearly couldn't bill a client for time spent, say, reading a novel, even if I were doing it at my desk and otherwise did work for that client all day. But most (of my) distractions are in between those two extremes, and it really is all about the amount of time spent with the distraction. And I find that, especially browsing through my rss feeds, or reading unfogged, or doing other things like that, I can easily lose 15 minutes or more before I even really get started. It's tough for me to bill that time in good conscience.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 10:02 AM
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On the original point, it seems neuroscientists have found that people with damage to the "emotional" areas of the brain can make endless lists of pros and cons but can't make a decision. (E.g. Antonio Damasio's description of his patient "Elliot")


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 10:17 AM
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I hate to abuse my unfogged friends, but I still need help. I went to a lot of trouble to make sure that he'd be in the store etc. I have to say something. I did try to move before this final warning. I tried to go to a smaller store--writing that I wanted a wider range of store experiences etc. Anyway, the team leader at that store was polite enough to call me and thank me for offering to work shifts at her store (to see whether we'd be a good fit).

Moving stores was a mistake.


Posted by: Bostoniangir; | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 12:42 PM
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The slow Friday. So dumb of me not to have solicited advice mid work-week when people feel the need to procrastinate.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 3:58 PM
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I'm not following you exactly -- you're planning to talk to this guy tomorrow and still need advice?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 4:26 PM
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Fate has often bounced me in the right direction (decent jobs or apartments dropping into my lap just on time, for example). Nice, but... slacker tendencies die hard. OTOH, to buy a house: I researched, learned everything I could about the process and finances, looked at over 40 houses in 15 months (in no rush but also crazy market at the time). Ended up with a great mortgage deal and am happy in the house.


Posted by: Honigessig | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 4:26 PM
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205: Yeah. I've gotten conflicting advice from a lot of people, most of whom have worked primarily in non-profit settings. One person who works in management had said that she would advise me, but she hasn't gotten back to me.

I have to talk to him tomorrow, because he's going to be away for a month, and I could easily get fired before then.

I wanted to find out whether there's any way that I can switch teams to buy myself some time. I'm not sure that S. isn't itching to fire me.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 5:27 PM
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Talk to him. Don't worry excessively about being polite; start that way, but make sure you get your point across.

I'm sure, having met me twice now, you know how seriously to take my advice.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 5:28 PM
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Have you got a selling point that makes you a good, useful employee? You're in a kind of rough position rhetorically (which, obviously, you know). Might an approach like: "Hey, STL, is there anyway an exception can be made to allow me to transfer to [store X]? I know it's against the rules, but [I'm really great and useful to the company for some specific reason] and I've been having personal difficulties that make working at this store very difficult for me. I love the company, and I love my job, but I have personal reasons for needing a transfer." If he says "Oh, you mean that S is out to get you," smile ruefully but don't actually say anything. If he wants to know what the personal reasons are, shuffle around and try to make them sound too personal to explain.

This isn't actually good advice, it's just the best I can come up with. The problem is that explicitly framing it as a conflict with S looks like a sure loser -- but there isn't any positive reason to ask for the transfer. I'm really hoping someone else chimes in with "That's idiotic, say this instead."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 5:39 PM
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If S has got such a reputation for being a complaint-writing hard-ass, why not explicitly say to the store team leader "dude, S is trying to get me fired, and I really need a transfer and I'm a good employee---I swear---and here are some other great morale-boosting reasons to grant me an out-of-protocol transfer, etc."?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 5:44 PM
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Enh. Nobody at my level is a *great* employee. We're not financially responsible for a particular department.

My real strength is customer service and product knowledge in my area. It's hard to prove that that makes me valuable, since it's difficult to make a direct link between that and department profitability.

I'm just not able to do my job adequately, because I'm afraid of the blows that S. is going to inflict.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 5:45 PM
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"I feel like my relationship with S is causing trouble in my department, and I feel badly for it. I do really like the working environment here, as well as all of you, and feel like a lot of the problems that have been going on have been a product of a dysfunctional relationship, and I feel like a change of scenery would give me a better chance to show what a productive member of the team I can be, which seems like it would work out great for everybody."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 5:46 PM
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You are great! Actually 212 should have integrated into it someplace "I feel like I have X Y and Z that I contribute to the department." Avoid expressing your personal doubts about how useful you really are.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 5:47 PM
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some other great morale-boosting reasons

I don't know what you mean, JM.

I think S. has lasted, because our sales are up. The person who held her job previously wasn't great and decided to take a demotion to a less stressful position. It's kind of hard not to have increased sales when the store is only a couple of years old.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 5:50 PM
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My real strength is customer service and product knowledge in my area. It's hard to prove that that makes me valuable,

Eh, you don't need to prove it, you just need to say it. "I really add value for the company through my encyclopedic knowledge of [whatever], and the way I communicate with the customers. I'd like to be able to be really useful, but for personal reasons I can't here; is the transfer possible?" If he knows what's going on, the idea is to look like you're trying not to knife S.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 5:50 PM
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I see my backgammon analogy was too abstruse. Thus, I become explicit - this level of time and effort is not worth spending on making your current job better and ought to be spent on finding a better job.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 5:51 PM
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Well, BG can't actually "knife" S, right? She's too far down in the pecking order to have much influence and is actively concerned that S is going to get her fired. At this point, dropping a hint that S is the problem and that BG is a useful employee who deserves a break doesn't seem so out of line to me.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 5:54 PM
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dsquared, I think that you're basically right. I do take expensive drugs that are covered by my healthplan, and I've got a doctor's appointment coming up in a month or so. I just need to keep myself from getting fired while I look.

It's awfully late for you to be checking in here.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 5:56 PM
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I agree with dsquared, pretty much, though with the caveat that if there's a way to stretch things out at work a bit to cover the time before you find something new without expending too much energy (mental or otherwise) in the process, that might be worth it. And if things end suddenly, in addition to all the other suggestions you've received, there's always temping. It sucks, I know, but it pays the bills for a while--and sometimes it doesn't suck all that much. But really: given what you've said, getting out is the way to go. It will make things better, almost certainly.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 5:56 PM
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And, yes, dsquared is right: it's never sounded as though you were happy in this job, and it's much better to jump ship than get fired. Maybe that's something you can say to your STL: "if I don't get approved for a transfer, I'm going to have to quit." It has the virtue, I believe, of being true.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 5:57 PM
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While good advice, a close reading of the thread would tip you off that she's already come to that conclusion. The problem is that she's on the brink of being fired, and would rather look for another job while employed than while unemployed, and also that her current situation is making her upset enough that it interferes with jobhunting. The goal of the transfer is to get some time with reduced stress but a continued paycheck with which to joh hunt.

(And nice Freakonomics review.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 5:57 PM
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215 and 217: Believe me, I would knife her if I could. If she got fired, I think that I could organize a party to celebrate pretty easily consisting of former employees.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 5:57 PM
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And remember COBRA. Probably not cheap, but better than no health insurance if it comes to that.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 5:59 PM
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220: I think they'd prefer to have me quit than have to fire me. I think that it must affect their unemployment insurance contributions or something.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 6:00 PM
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DaveL beat me to the COBRA reminder. Obviously it would be best to have no gap in your work, but you won't have an actual gap in your health coverage (unless you simply can't afford COBRA payments, of course).


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 6:02 PM
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COBRA's not that bad. I think it's $154/month. The plan's deductible high-ish ($1100 per year), and they give you something called a Personal Wellness Account which is a bit like an HSA in that it builds up over time. You get more money per year, the longer you're there. It's like $300 at first, but then it's $1200 or so, and it rolls over from year to yeer, but you can't take it with you. My plan finally paid $20. My October (non-mental-health doctor's visit will actually be covered by the plan.

My drug deductible is $550 per year which I hit, but the chief virtue is that Medco negotiates huge discounts off of retail prices.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 6:05 PM
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The problem is that she's on the brink of being fired, and would rather look for another job while employed than while unemployed

(The above was addressed to dsquared, but since I agreed with him)

I understand that. And if it can be done, great. But at this point it seems like only limited energy should go into trying to stay, inasmuch as the odds are low. Stretching it out a bit to cover a bit more health care would be good, but unfortunately unless things go unbelievably well, there's a likely outcome of at least a few months without health care (which, if I understand things, is one of the real sticking points.)

Um, I'm a little tired and emotional right now, so I should probably stop there. Dammit, I was invited to two--two--very hip parties tonight, one in Boston, one in New York, and what am I doing? Drinking beer in my underwear in Pawtucket, watching the Red Sox and looking at the net. Depressing, on one hand, but I have to admit I'm happier here.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 6:07 PM
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Anyway, I'm going to speak with him, because it seems to me to be one of my last options there. I'm told that he's a man of integrity, though he's clearly really cheap.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 6:07 PM
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Sure, about the limited energy, but all she's doing is asking for advice on how to talk to a supervisor. If that doesn't work, yeah, the only thing to do is to sit tight and look for work. Wait to get fired rather than quitting without having found a job, though -- you really want the unemployment insurance.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 6:09 PM
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Forgot to mention COBRA, but the point's been hit. On the other hand, if they're waiting for you to quit rather than fire you, that gives you an advantage if you can tough it out.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 6:09 PM
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Also, it's pretty easy to tell a potential employer that I took some time off by working at WF, but that now I know what I want to do. If I take another menial job, it seems to me that it would look like I'm a crappy employee.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 6:10 PM
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Crossed with LB's 229, which I agree with. On advice about talking to a supervisor, I fear that, for me at least, it's really too hard to offer much of any as an outsider to the situation. But I think Sifu Tweety has been making sense.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 6:11 PM
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But I think Sifu Tweety has been making sense.

Uh oh.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 6:14 PM
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Uh oh.

See the last paragraph of 227.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 6:15 PM
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Heh, I'm doing more-or-less the same thing, except about thirty miles away, and on the Massachusetts side of the border. Also, wearing more than my underwear thus far.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 6:19 PM
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Comity!


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 6:20 PM
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234: I think what Sifu is referring to is the fact that his approach to schooling and job hunting etc. isn't exactly orthodox. I'm sure that I sound cryptic, but I don't want to reveal off blog communication. I'm wondering if I should take a few vacation days. Were I to quite, they's owe me a check for two weeks worth of work. Fired, I lose that but gain the unemployment insurance.

Sadly, September is the start of the busy season.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 6:20 PM
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That actually sounds like a delightful evening to me, versus this mess of a brief I'm trying to write. This complaint could choke a horse -- 140 pages of "here's absolutely everything that happened in the management of this corporation for the last ten years; and here are seventeen legal theories under which we, the minority shareholders, were damaged by it." I think it all dissolves into nonsense once you pick it apart, but it's just so goddamn huge.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 6:21 PM
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Do you really lose your vacation for getting fired? I don't think you should -- accrued vacation is compensation you've already earned.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 6:22 PM
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Wait to get fired

Definitely this; forget any 'I'm going to have to quit' talk. As far as your chat with STL, I too think Sifu is making sense (note that while I am also watching the Sox, I'm drinking wine and not lounging around in my underwear, so my credibility is enhanced).

(Ooh -- near-brawl! This could get good.) Anyway, good luck. Dealing with petty tyrants in a retail situation sucks monumentally.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 6:26 PM
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I'm sure that I sound cryptic, but I don't want to reveal off blog communication.

Oh, don't worry about that, just having a little fun in an otherwise serious moment. If I were you, I'd use them strategically if possible (when you really need to get away for a little while or else kill someone, or a job interview, etc.) You don't want to wipe them all out, in case you need to quit, but you don't want to leave them on the table, either. Right now you are in the position of wanting to hang on as long as possible while you look; and if you must go, getting fired while having a couple of good connections is best.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 6:29 PM
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240: (fucking confusing near-brawl, I tell you what)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 6:29 PM
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That actually sounds like a delightful evening to me, versus this mess of a brief I'm trying to write.

I'm sure. I don't think I've mentioned that a lawyer interested in having me blog about a case he's involved in sent me his latest filing along with that of the opposing counsel late on the Friday before Labor Day weekend, thinking I might want to peruse them and comment over the next couple of days. Somehow it didn't happen.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 6:32 PM
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"STL, don't think of it as transferring me to another store. Think of it as fire insurance."


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 6:36 PM
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If you go that route, muttering darkly about people taking your stapler is key.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 6:43 PM
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I agree with the tenor of LB's suggestions, along with sifu.

One thing to remember is that most managers have some bad experiences with employees in common, so badmouthing your current boss while looking for another one rarely wins many points. So pitching your strengths and emphasizing your abilities, love of the company, and desire to make it work in a new spot will get you farther than a critique of her management style.

BTW, Those research positions have been a good launching point for a few people I know.


Posted by: cw | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 6:51 PM
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the tenor of LB's

More of an alto, really.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 7:00 PM
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243--
am i reading this right:
"a lawyer interested in having me blog about a case he's involved in"

why would he want you to *blog* about a case he's involved in?

i mean--does he just want your thoughts on it, or does he want to make some info more widely known, or is he fishing for more plaintiffs to represent, or what?

just seems weird--not a sentence i expected to see.

(okay, ben--nominal phrase).


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 7:01 PM
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I was wondering the same thing.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 7:06 PM
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cw--Do any of those people know people there now?

so badmouthing your current boss while looking for another one rarely wins many points

That is exactly what I'm trying to avoid doing. It's so very hard, given how difficult she is.

Actually, there was Sociology FAS Ph.D. student/ D.Bus doing research on our particular store. She was studying morale, commitment to the culture, how much we believe that we have good opportunities for growth.

Fortune always writes up WF as one of teh best places to work. The company asks us to write up how great it is to work for them, and then they pass them on. I've kind of wanted to figure out how I could write to Fortune to say that company comments are coerced and morale is rather low.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 7:07 PM
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why would he want you to *blog* about a case he's involved in?

Basically door no. 2 from your choices above. Also, both sides seem to be putting a lot of weight on the public relations battle, and he views me as sympathetic. Which is a complicated matter, and I don't think I'll be writing anything about the filings, anyway.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 7:08 PM
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250 - I think that must have been my cousin's wife, BG. That's hysterical.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 7:11 PM
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There's a sheet of paper posted in our break room with her e-mail address on it. I keep thinking about writing her. She came by my department, because she was having a hard time getting enough responses from us.

I don't know enough about statistical methods to understand this, but I keep thinking that high turnover is going to mess with the data. I bet that she can adjust for this, but she won't be tracking the same people.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 7:20 PM
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JL--I sent you an e-mail. Thanks for the e-mails.
A couple of things. One, I used Raiser's Edge a long, long time ago. Two, I love the ISG museum. Three, my great grandmother was friends with Mrs. Gar/dner.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09- 7-07 7:33 PM
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