Re: Achoo

1

If there is puke, I will stay home....


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 7:59 AM
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What is your criteria for taking a sick day off?

Hangover.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:00 AM
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it costs companies a lot of money because it makes other people sick
But if everyone still comes in when they're sick then no extra people miss work due to cross-infections. Efficiency!


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:03 AM
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Still working this one out at my new job. Seven years of telecommuting made it a nonissue. Whether I got any work done when I was sick was a different question, but you could ask the question just as well when I wasn't sick.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:05 AM
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If I feel unwell, I don't go to work. I would go in with a mild cold, but not if I feel really shitty.

But I don't work under some barbaric system in which sick days and holiday days are combined. I also get a lot of holiday days.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:08 AM
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I so, so hate when people come into work (or students come to class) with illness, particularly the flu, which is everywhere right now. [Coughs on paper] "here's my assignment!" God, it's awful. The colleagues who are prone to do this are also prone to letting you know that they are indeed at work while suffering mightily and doesn't that just speak to their dedication? Ffs.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:11 AM
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My girlfriend had a PTO system at her last job, and used it up almost as soon as she started by being incapacitated with a back problem, so no vacation for us last year. This year, the new job doesn't give you any vacation the first year (strictly speaking, unless you worked 180 days in the prior calendar year), so none this year either (she's been taking unpaid leave to do things like go home for Christmas). At least her new job has some kind of paid sick days, but it's some incomprehensible accrual thing with variable rates and group pools and stuff.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:12 AM
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I am pressing my 'your country is fucked' hot-key again.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:13 AM
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It's funny - as someone who never gets sick (almost literally - maybe 5 days missed in 13 years), I viewed the combined PTO as a great innovation; I hadn't really thought about this downside. If I'm sick enough not to work, there's no question about it.

Depending on the size of the org, it seems to me that one or two examples of someone sent home by a supervisor could be very effective - send the message that spending a sick day at your desk will be considered PTO. Draconian, except that I really think it only needs to happen a couple times to shift peoples' sense of where the sick day/work day line is.

I would add that a healthy attitude towards half-days is probably helpful here. My understanding is that some offices are uptight about half-days, but if someone can show up at noon, or some in for a few hours in the morning then go home to bed, and not be screwed out of PTO, that would improve decision-making.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:14 AM
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Compelling people to take time off sick as holiday? Is that even remotely legal?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:14 AM
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Possible improvement: combine it with maternity leave! "Sorry, you took two months off when you gave birth. No more vacations for you for the next four years."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:15 AM
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I dunno. I get winter colds that are all sneezy, but I'm not really sick, just blowing my nose a lot. If I took days off for those, I'd be out of work all the time. Maybe it's obnoxious to come into work, but what am I supposed to do -- work halftime December through March?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:16 AM
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Compelling people to take time off sick as holiday? Is that even remotely legal?

These places don't distinguish between holiday and sick day. If you're healthy all year, you get (for example) 15 holidays; if you're sick 5 times, 10 holidays; if you get the flu, you don't get to go to the beach.

As for legality, it's just a question of what happens to you after your fifth sick day - it comes out of your wages or out of your holidays.

I should have said before - for most employees, makeup work on weekends or whatever should be made available - I used to work with a guy who was sick all the time, and his last paycheck of the year would always be short. He was willing to work weekends, but the boss was often a dick about it.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:17 AM
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I never like to waste a sick day on being actually sick.


Posted by: Lackey | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:19 AM
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What is your criteria for taking a sick day off?
Unexpected sanity.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:20 AM
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This year, the new job doesn't give you any vacation the first year

I hate that shit so much. Look, if I take time off in the first month and then quit, take it out of my last paycheck. But don't give me this "vacation is something you earn/accrue" crap. If I need time off in my first month (much less six), fucking give it to me.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:20 AM
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re: 10

Seems to be standard practice over there. It's crazy.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:22 AM
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Compelling people to take time off sick as holiday? Is that even remotely legal?

Why would it not be legal, if it's what corporations want to do?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:24 AM
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A shoutout to my coworker who came in really sick a few years ago and ended up having TB, making us all have to go get tested. Thanks, dude!


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:25 AM
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But I don't work under some barbaric system in which sick days and holiday days are combined.

So what happens with your extra sick days at the end of the year?

One reason I like the combined PTO is that it skips the stupid dance of "he called in sick - is he really?" Another way of avoiding that nonsense is the holiday/personal day distinction. You get 2 weeks (or whatever) of vacation, which you schedule with HR or your boss or whoever, then 5 or 8 days that you can use for sickness, kids' snow day, errands, or just an unplanned day off. Vacation rolls over, and unused personal days are paid off in cash.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:25 AM
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Even better possible improvement!
"Well, Bill, we're all glad to see you back safely from your tour of duty with the National Guard in Fallujah. Of course, you spent fifteen months over there - which means no more vacations for you EVER."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:25 AM
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re: 18

Here in the UK we have laws that constrain what companies can do. That would be one of the areas in which those laws exist. There are also EU laws covering the same area.

re: 20

I don't get 'sick days'. If I'm sick, I'm sick. No-one's keeping a tally.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:27 AM
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The problem with PTO is that the combination of sick and holiday time is that the combined days are fewer than the separate allotments. If you had 15 vacation and 10 sick, presto, you've got 20 PTO days! What a bargain!
I went in when I was moderately sick a couple weeks ago, but it was my first 2 days on the job so I felt like I shouldn't miss orientation (and also needed to officially start to have health insurance.) My old place in theory had combined "personal days" for sickness and vacation, but no one really counted the sick days against you. New place is nicer, this is on top of all vacation days:
Monthly paid employees do not have a formal method of accruing or reporting sick leave; a reasonable number of justifiable absences for illness are paid in full. They may also use 3 sick days per year to care for an ill family member.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:27 AM
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16 - The first-year vacation thing seems to be the result of some unfortunate union negotiations. It's a job at a place that's mostly blue-collar lifers, and the benefit structure is heavily weighted towards being there for 20+ years. I think vacations for first-years were thrown under the bus as some kind of concession to keep other benefits for people who have been there a long time. (In another example of stay-a-long-time bias, the pension takes 20 years to begin vesting, and is then fully vested after 24 years).


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:27 AM
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Forgive my stuttering.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:28 AM
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16, 24: this would definitely be illegal over here. You are legally entitled to a certain number of holiday days per year. I suspect that the pension arrangement described would also be illegal. (Does this mean that if you leave the company after 19 years of contributing to the scheme, you get nothing at all? Because that would definitely be illegal.)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:30 AM
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This is just dumb. If you put people's fun paid-time-off and people's not-fun sick days in the same category, you create this problem. And then you wonder where it came from. Jesus. We should make it a pretend widget problem.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:33 AM
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26: I think if you leave after 19 years, you get a cash payout of your contributions to the pension fund, plus some nominal interest growth; what you don't get is any kind of income in retirement.

And yeah, the US is notable for having exactly zero required holidays or vacation per year.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:37 AM
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21 thinks it's a joke.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:37 AM
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I don't get 'sick days'. If I'm sick, I'm sick. No-one's keeping a tally.

OK, I"ll admit that this never crossed my mind. Over here, 2-person businesses keep track of these things. I assume it was ever thus.

OTOH, the whole "calling in sick with a fake cough" thing because sick days are "free" but holidays are counted is a pretty clear flaw in the trust system. I wonder if British factory workers also have the Implicit Trust system of sick days.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:38 AM
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One of the most "American" quote on time off (though not sick days), was billionaire oilman Marvin Davis who said something along the lines of: I give all of my employees two weeks vacation and I'd like to meet the son-of-a-bitch who has the guts to take all of it.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:39 AM
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One reason I like the combined PTO is that it skips the stupid dance of "he called in sick - is he really?"

But only by assuming that he's not.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:40 AM
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12: Is it allergies? I wouldn't stay home for allergies, and I wouldn't stay home for just the sniffles (no sore throat, no cough, no aches, just sneezing) because that's my upper respiratory tract's response to winter.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:42 AM
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>They may also use 3 sick days per year to care for an ill family member.

Ha. My kid in day care averages close to 3 sick days a month. Its like a petri dish over there.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:42 AM
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I don't get 'sick days'. If I'm sick, I'm sick. No-one's keeping a tally.

See, this would dramatically affect whether I worked sick or not. I get 7 sick days per year. Before using one, I have to think not only about how sick/contagious I am, but how many of those am I likely to need later on for staying home with a sick kid. I suppose I get that there are Ferris Beullers out there who take advantage, but I wish employers would just treat people like grownups with respect to sick time -- if you're sick, stay home, no one's counting. Surely the management can weed out malingerers some other way.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:43 AM
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re: 30

Here, at my work place, and this is fairly typical, any absence of less than a week, you're required to fill in a form saying why you were off but it's taken on trust. Absences of more than a week require a letter from a doctor backing you up.

So, it's quite easy to game the system if you've, say, got a hangover. But much harder to game it for longer periods.

Also, it'd be fairly typical that if you were taking a lot of short sick periods without any real excuse, that you'd probably get a talking to from your boss, or sent to see occupational health.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:44 AM
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Because I teach, I have to be really sick to take a full day off, especially if the class that day is a once-a-week three-hour class. I find trying to schedule some kind of make-up class nightmarishly difficult if it's that subtantial a block of time, though missing one lecture session in a class that meets three times a week isn't that big a deal. I'll teach with a cold, for example. I will skip committee meetings and so on, however, so on a semi-sick-day I may only be at work for class time and otherwise resting at home. I think I've cancelled class due to illness only three or four times in the last 14 years.


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:44 AM
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33: It's a winter thing, and yeah, sniffles. But I can get fairly impressively snotty without actually feeling ill; someone annoyed at sneezy coworkers would be annoyed at me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:45 AM
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I have to be very, very sick to take time off. I took 3-1/2 days in the last week (hence all my commenting), which I think was the only sick time I've taken in the two years since I started this job.

One of the major considerations for me is what happens if I'm not there. In a small office or working with the public, when you don't come in it means that other people have massively more work added to their day, or customers wait far longer to be served. When I was a receptionist, I tried never to take time off. It was almost impossible to get a temp receptionist (location issues) and so that meant that two or three of my colleagues would have to spend all day listening for the phone.

These days if I don't come in it means that computer problems go unattended and can spiral into worse issues, the angry-people calls get dumped on a co-worker with much less authority and ability to give a proper response, reporters don't get prompt answers...it's a cascade effect.

Once upon a time I had a desk job that really had no consequences at all if I took a sick day or two. I didn't take much time then either, but it was an easier call.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:46 AM
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There was some factoid going around that by the time he had spent four years as a War President, Georgie had taken more vacation time than most Americans take in their entire lives.

28: given the performance of some pension schemes, that doesn't sound too bad...

30: most employers will ask for a doctor's note if you take more than a couple of days off at a time. (On the grounds that if you're sick enough to take three days off then you're sick enough to see a doctor.) And an employee who tried to, say, take Thursday and Friday sick every week would probably attract attention. So it's not done entirely on implicit trust.

The problem is more from long-term invalidity benefit abuse - "chronic back pain" etc - and that's a government concern, of course, not an employer concern.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:46 AM
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Additionally to 36, you're not legally obliged to get a doctor's note for less than five days, and most doctors are seriously pissed off to be asked for one; like phoning the company HRand shouting pissed off.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:47 AM
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37 is important. Teaching is one of those areas where missing a day can throw off your entire term. Showing up and getting part way through the material even is much better than not at all.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:48 AM
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The UK thing just sounds a lot more sane. Treat me like a grown-up, and I'll act like one. Treat me like a little kid looking to get out of school, and you get the flu going around.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:50 AM
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I hate the trust issue, too. I've worked for employers who trusted me and those who didn't. I never thought that the hoops that the mistrustful ones set up were anywhere near worth it in terms of catching misbehavior. It just demoralizes your staff and makes them feel like -- wow -- you don't trust them.

Which is also why I hate the culture that says don't talk about about your salary, or attempts to forbid (!) you from doing it. I missed the earlier thread, but I make $52K a year, although I pay for my own health insurance (for complicated reasons).


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:51 AM
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43: It's like reimbursement policies. Treating your employees like children (I won't reimburse you $7 for lunch without a receipt) may save you a little bit of abuse, but in exchange it will piss of pretty much every employee at some point.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:52 AM
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45: Or anything, really. Not to want to generalize too much, but I find that with, e.g., students, a 'you and I both know what is reasonable, be an adult about it' works for everything from extensions to attendance to quality of work.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:56 AM
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OT:

Ben w-lfs-n or others, I would like to buy a book of the work of Daniil Kharms, but I am unable to detect what the difference is between "Incidences", published one year ago by Five Star, and "Today I Wrote Nothing", published less than a year ago by Overlook. They're even the same length, for god's sake. The reviews I've found seem to also suggest that they are exactly the same book. What's going on here? Neither is, of course, in any physical bookstore near me.


Posted by: Cryptic N | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 8:57 AM
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The UK system of course sounds better, but given what we're stuck with, I'm like JRoth in that the combined PTO bank ends up being more vacation time for me.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:06 AM
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Interesting. We're a very small office, so coming in sick is pretty obnoxious. If I'm sick, I call the office manager to see if there's anything pressing happening that day, and almost always I'm told to just stay home. If I do have to come in, I email everyone and tell them to stay away from me. We're a PTO place, but it used to be a trust system until someone was let go and tried to sue, claiming (falsely) that she'd been compelled to work without the legally mandated time off for lunch and whatnot, so we started keeping track of time off (not for lunch, but for half-days and more).


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:11 AM
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re: 48

But is really rubbish for people who are actually sick. Who, arguably, we ought to care more about.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:12 AM
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50: sounds like socialism to me.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:13 AM
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re: 51

Funny that, isn't it?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:14 AM
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PTO is a problem for exactly the reasons that Di outlines in 35. If you have any caregiving responsibilities at all, and you want a prayer of enjoying some actual vacation, you have to take your vacation, and then hope like crazy that you don't have to use more days for caregiving than you actually have left. Heaven forbid you get sick yourself.

If you lose the gamble, you're stuck taking unpaid time or scheduling a vacation for as close to the end of the year as you can. Depending on the job, there can be a strict rule that no one is allowed time off in the last two weeks of December, or even the whole time period from Thanksgiving-New Year's.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:16 AM
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sounds like socialism to me.

What's next, progressive tax schemes? Just get sick less you wussies.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:22 AM
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But in the UK, if you haven't taken enough sick days by the end of the year, the police come to your home and forcibly infect you with stuff.

If you haven't taken enough holidays, MI6 black-bags you to the gulags of North Berwick or Troon.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:23 AM
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This is a timely thread for me because I am sick today, although at work. I came back to work because, although still congested and coughing, I no longer have a fever.

I do feel much more justified calling out when I've been to the doctor and gotten a prescription, like it is somehow less acceptable to get sick when the only thing you can do is rest.


Posted by: pasdquoi | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:26 AM
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I'm obligated to hate on you UK motherfuckers because where I work, The Internet Auction Company Who Must Not Be Named, we of course have people doing the same work as I do in the UK office, but getting obscene amounts of time off.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:29 AM
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I have a solitary office (rare, I think) when I'm not in the lab (which I share with a lot of people.) When I was sick, I 'self-quarantined' -- I spent all day in my office with the door mostly shut, clicking refresh obsessively on Unfogged.


Posted by: Klug | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:32 AM
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57: we over here refer to that little asymmetry as "Cornwallis' Revenge".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:32 AM
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misdirected hate: woot!


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:32 AM
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From an employee's perspective, I hate PTO. I'd hate to think that some bad luck means no vacation. As a manager, it makes things so much easier. We have separate sick days and vacation where I work and it sucks having to second-guess if someone is abusing the system or negotiate with people about which things fall into which category, especially since you can't use sick leave to take care of your kids.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:36 AM
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Boy, there is power in a union all right--even my weak one which lost the last two strikes. I get both sick time and vacation time, accruing about one day per month of each, plus a couple of floating holidays so that we get four-day weekends at Christmas and Thanksgiving. Of course, due to the vagaries of my actual position, I don't take any of either to speak of. I managed to take the week of Christmas off, and that's about it for actual vacation for me for at least the next year. Prior to that, I had taken a week and a half off in October 2006.

Plus, in all honesty, I've been pretty healthy so far. I think the last time I was really-seriously-multi-day-ill was summer 2004.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:36 AM
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IIRC, the last time I took a sick day was when I had a kidney stone. I am almost never sick with anything contagious - if Rah gets a cold or the flu I very rarely manage to catch it - though I very reliably get allergies in spring and fall. That said, I have always preferred to be trusted over being tracked and my current manager doesn't hesitate to tell someone who comes in obviously sick that she is not going to count it against them if they go home early.

In my current position, I can work from home if I need to; there are inconveniences to it but I can still be productive. At Ma Bell that wasn't allowed so our bosses had a localized rule that 3 or more days needed a doctor's note but anything else they would trust us on. That wasn't a company rule, it was just our direct managers choosing to treat us as adults. The overall company rule was of the PTO pool variety which, needless to say, stinks.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:37 AM
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When I'm teaching, I show up. We have very short intense classes, and there's just not a chance to make up a session if it's missed. And there's no slack in the schedule.

If it's a research day, though, I'll stay home with any kind of fever. Work if I can, read if not.

My whole family has colds all the time right now with kids in two different schoolsgerm pools. Like LB, we'd come to a screeching halt for the winter if we stopped for the sniffles.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:41 AM
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I spent all day in my office with the door mostly shut, clicking refresh obsessively on Unfogged.

I do this too. Of course, it's hard to tell the difference between sick days and normal days. My office is no longer solitary, but hey, if I'm suffering, so should they, right?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:43 AM
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After three companies with irritating sick day/personal day/holiday rules, it was refreshing to work for The M/thW/rks where you're told, "Sick? Don't come to work. Don't worry about it."


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:47 AM
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At any rate, my point, which I failed to note: all this would be fixed by telecommuting. Obviously a lot of jobs can't telecommute but a lot of jobs can and to be honest I gain precious little from the physical presence of my colleagues.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:49 AM
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You know, I've spent the last 10+ years in various situations were mostly if I need a day/afternoon off to go do something, I just take it and nobody is counting. If I've got lecture or a scheduled meeting, sure, I have to be there. But hell, if I want to go walk in the park on a nice wed. afternoon and work a rainy saturday morning nobody is going to get in my face about it; I can mostly schedule however I want so long as my work is done.

It occurs to me that it will be very difficult to go back to a situation where someone is keeping track, if I ever do that.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:51 AM
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re: 55

Please no, not Troon!

I'd take Camp Shuggie, the detention centre on Cumbrae, over that.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:52 AM
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My kids have been ill last week and this, and I didn't get it but C did. He had a day off on Monday, and worked at home on Tuesday, then went in on Wednesday although he was still feeling rough. He goes to work when he's ill, although I tell him to not be stupid and stay at home, because, well, life doesn't stand still, and if he doesn't go to work he just has more to deal with when he gets back. But it's self-imposed, not work- (the University) imposed, and when he had CFS they were fantastic.

Of course, he also lives by the rule (and is this a general UK thing, or just the University?) that if you are taking holiday and you get ill enough that you wouldn't be at work, then those days count as sick and you don't have to take them off your holiday allowance.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:53 AM
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I am at the office while sick right now. Fortunately, I am not teaching, just crouching in my office trying to write, and off course, chatting with you good people.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:53 AM
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especially since you can't use sick leave to take care of your kids

And if you have little kids, you likely spend a fair amount of time taking care of them when they're sick, and taking care of yourself because the little wretches made you sick. If you have a generous allowance of sick and personal days, it's fine to group those together, but vacation time should absolutely be kept separate; otherwise having a family and having family vacation become incompatible. Whenever a trend like PTO arises, it's just the ingenuity of capital coming up with ways to screw labor.

Also, the presenteeism threshold has to vary with the job. In an office where you can tell people to stay away? Fine, come in if you have to. In a restaurant or daycare? Stay the fuck home.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:54 AM
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71: I've gone to the office while sick (but not horrible so) just for a change of walls --- but not when I shared an office.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:55 AM
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Of course, he also lives by the rule (and is this a general UK thing, or just the University?) that if you are taking holiday and you get ill enough that you wouldn't be at work, then those days count as sick and you don't have to take them

It's been the rule at a few places I've worked. But I've never availed myself of it. I'd feel bad phoning in sick when I was on holiday.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:57 AM
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73. Most people over here outside academia would say, "What are office walls?"


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:57 AM
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The M/thW/rks

You worked at a meth lab? I hope they had a good dental plan.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:57 AM
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he also lives by the rule (and is this a general UK thing, or just the University?) that if you are taking holiday and you get ill enough that you wouldn't be at work, then those days count as sick and you don't have to take them off your holiday allowance.

See, now you're just rubbing salt in our wounds.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 9:58 AM
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76: They have a floating license for that, so you're ok unless too many of your colleagues are getting work done.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:01 AM
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77: They get that salt free, as a workplace benefit.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:01 AM
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I work in a small office and my boss is curmudgeonly about all forms of sick leave and holidays. We get 20 days leave + public holidays (bank hols etc.) but about 5 of those are used up at Christmas.

Sick days are noted but there is no offical limit. If I were out a lot I could expect to keep hearing complaints about it pretty much for ever. The unwritten rule on sick leave is that we are expected to drag ourselves in no matter how sick if at all physically possible. Infecting co-workers is not a concern.

The rule of thumb in Ireland generally is that after 3 days you have to produce a doctor's note but here I'd be expected to have been to the doctor for any absence - the note itself is not that important but the doctor visit is seen as evidence.

Having said all that I had an emergency dental appointment today over an abscess and my boss just rang me to see if I was ok and was kind of sympathetic. Mind you, the dentist was very surprised I was going back to work. He would have given me a note but having been already seen upright and conscious in the office I felt obliged to go back, particularly since I am taking a scheduled day off tomorrow.

My regular dentist is on holidays so I went to see a nearby colleague who he had arranged with to provide emergency cover. He lanced the thing, flattened off a few cusps which were causing painful clashing and prescribed antibiotics. It didn't cost me a penny and I was conscious of gratitude for not living in America.

Supposed to go out tonight but my chances on the pull are probably a bit limited since I look like I'm storing nuts in my cheek.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:01 AM
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77: Deservedly though. It really doesn't help anyone to pretend workplace culture about time off isn't aberrant here.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:02 AM
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61: Becks, I don't think the variable there is PTO, at least not exclusively. A company can have "sick/caregiving" time and "vacation" time as two separate pots, and then you're not having fights with your staff about whether they're REALLY sick or just, horrors, staying home with their sick kid.

As far as second-guessing sick time, it's a horrible position to be in as a manager, but again it's not because of PTO. You can be a trusting organization or a mistrustful one. IMO, it's a cost-benefit question, and organizations often calculate the costs wrong. It's cheaper to have a handful of employees overstep by a few days a year than to obsessively monitor all of your staff all the time.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:03 AM
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76: that's an interesting Rorschach test. I assumed it was "Moth Works" and imagined some sort of high-tech research facility along the lines of the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:03 AM
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It's cheaper to have a handful of employees overstep by a few days a year than to obsessively monitor all of your staff all the time.

Especially if you want to be able to call on those same employees for a bit of `above and beyond the call' if you're in a pinch.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:06 AM
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I was conscious of gratitude for not living in America

I hope we had something to do with that.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:08 AM
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Moth Works.


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:08 AM
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Especially if you want to be able to call on those same employees for a bit of `above and beyond the call' if you're in a pinch.

Exactly. I bitch about the formal rules of my firm all the time, but informally there are alot of people who have bent over backwards to cut me a break when I've needed it (and I've needed it alot in the past year). Those particular people are well aware that, in a pinch, I will bend over backwards for them, too. People who go out of their way to make sure I know I'm the subordinate? "Gosh, I'm really swamped right now. Sorry I can't help this time."


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:14 AM
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My criteria?

One bottle of wine, no sick day.
Two bottles, sick day.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:21 AM
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||
May I bleg? I have to make a birthday cake. I'm looking specifically for a recipe for frosting—the ideal is light, minimally sweet, and with good sculptural properties. Any links or suggestions concerning the cake itself, design, techniques etc. are also welcome. I'm pretty adept in the kitchen, but I rarely do any baking, so there's that. Feel free to use my email addy at the link.

In advance, a million thanks.
|>


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:28 AM
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Desired flavors? Are we talking chocolate, fruit, vanilla...? Rose Levy Berenbaum sees and knows all, so if you give me some specs, I'll look one up for you tonight. Or go buy a copy of the Cake Bible.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:32 AM
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Light, unsweet, and good sculptural properties is tough, though -- you get sculptural properties from fat and sugar. She's got a whipped cream with a little gelatin in it for stability that might be what you want.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:35 AM
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Those particular people are well aware that, in a pinch, I will bend over backwards for them

Workplace dating is such a bad idea, Di.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:40 AM
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I hope we had something to do with that

I might be missing a joke here. The dry boring answer is that you people have heightened my awareness of how difficult and expensive the same thing might be for many U.S. residents. Not that Ireland is a socialist paradise, you have to have worked so many weeks in the last two years to qualify for dental benefit. Our health system is an awkward public-private hybrid but nobody gets bankrupted.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:41 AM
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Yeah, Cake Bible, I know—I'm just caught up short (birthday is Saturday). At this point I'm thinking a simple white cake; the only parameter set thus far (by the girls) is strawberries. So maybe a strawberry-flavored frosting, or a light chocolate.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:42 AM
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Hagfish slime can help provide body in a healthful way.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:42 AM
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If you can get good fresh strawberries, then a whipped-cream frosting with, say, a layer of sliced strawberries in the whipped cream between layers, and whole ones arranged prettily on top, wouldn't be bad. But what's she doing asking for strawberries in February? I'd break up with her for insufficient awareness of seasonality.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:44 AM
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Yellow cake, chocolate buttercream, strawberry jam between the layers?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:46 AM
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I'd break up with her for insufficient awareness of seasonality

It's for my daughters, so breaking up is not an option. But remember we're on the West Coast, where strawberries have just started turning up at the market. Anyway, thanks for the suggestions so far.

Hagfish slime can help provide body in a healthful way

Funny you should mention it. They also wanted a mermaid, so maybe an entire hagfish with a doll's head on it would do the trick.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:49 AM
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Workplace dating is such a bad idea, Di.

That's why you should restrict it to strickly fuck buddies, and from different work units. Then you're golden.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:50 AM
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Italian meringue is also light and good with strawberries, albeit way sweet.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:53 AM
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Actually, I don't think hagfish slime would be viscous enough to provide really good structure. Maybe if you heated it slightly (add boiling water?) to start the proteins coagulating.

They also wanted a mermaid, so maybe an entire hagfish with a doll's head on it would do the trick.

OMG WANT


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:56 AM
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They also wanted a mermaid, so maybe an entire hagfish with a doll's head on it would do the trick.

with a strawberry in it's mouth.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 10:59 AM
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Meringue's a possibility. I'm thinking light and not sweet only in comparison to simple buttercream I've made before, or that horrid stuff that comes in cans. Maybe just a lot more whipping. Partly, I'm trying to minimize the amount of sugar that 14 or so 4- and 5-year-olds will consume.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:00 AM
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its. dammit. its.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:01 AM
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Calling in sick: I'm a nurse in labor and delivery. We have 12 days of vacation per year, which works out to 4 weeks of 3 shifts per week. However, vacation time slots are doled out months in advance by seniority. Thus it is very common for nurses to deal with unexpected occurrences or denial of vacation by calling in sick.

Therefore, anyone calling in sick is suspected of lying.

Nevertheless, my personal criteria remains, "Would I like for someone in my condition to breathe on my newborn?"

On frosting: Start with Julia Child's "Italian meringue" or Better Homes and Garden's "seafoam frosting." It's basically beaten egg whites stabilized with hot sugar syrup. You can then add cream, chocolate, butter, etc. It's not a pound of confectioners' sugar--most adults can actually swallow this.

The key to good cake is the imbibing sauce drizzled onto the layers just before frosting them. If you don't want to add the liquor, just use sugar. It keeps the cake from tasting dry. Also consider splitting the layers in half.


Posted by: Shamhat | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:10 AM
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I had a case about PTO not long ago. On the question of whether it gets cashed out (like vacation) or not cashed out (like sick) when you leave, the answer, in Maryland anyway, is the former. And no, it doesn't matter what the company policy, or even an explicit employment contract, says about the matter.

Also, anyone in a use-it-or-lose-it situation ought to keep track of accrued leave "lost."


Posted by: NĂ¡pi | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:12 AM
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"Would I like for someone in my condition to breathe on my newborn?"

Sounds like a damn good one to me. If you were walking around spewing coronavirus all over the place would they actually let you onto a delivery ward?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:13 AM
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Thanks, Shamhat. I'm off to the store.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:17 AM
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I'm a nurse in labor and delivery.

Now that is a commitment to commenting.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:19 AM
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Seven Minute Frosting.

No link, because all the recipes I'm finding require a double boiler, and I swear I didn't need one when I made it.

I believe that I already referenced that cake as perhaps my proudest achievement in life so far. The interior was a simple white cake (neither angel nor sponge - chiffon?) with lemon curd in the middle.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:26 AM
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101: Hagfish slime is uniquely fibrous. Seriously. Google "fibrous" + "hagfosh" + "slime".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:31 AM
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I can tell that you skipped the "slime" chapter in your biology book.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:33 AM
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110: I've admired it before, but that cake is hard-core.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:33 AM
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||

Oh, man, am I getting out of here just in time. A partner who hadn't heard I was leaving just called with a case I worked on two years ago, that just partially emerged from a bankruptcy stay. Telling him to go find someone else was a pleasure.

|>


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:36 AM
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Possible improvement: combine it with maternity leave! "Sorry, you took two months off when you gave birth. No more vacations for you for the next four years."

As with leave for military service, if only this were a joke.

What you describe is actually what happens a lot of the time. Standard max maternity leave is 6 weeks as "disability." If you want more than that, you save up your vacation time in advance and also sick days if you're able to bank them, which you can't in a lot of places.

For paternity and adoption leave, you're lucky to get anything at all. If you do, my anecdata says two weeks is generally the max unless you save up vacation.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:37 AM
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115: Are you not eligible for FMLA, or not counting that because its unpaid?


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:42 AM
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The link in 86 is great. Thanks, felix.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:43 AM
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My sister-in-law's brother-in-law (no, not me) is a professional cake chef. (Don't miss R2D2 under occasion cakes, which we had at my brother's 35th birthday party.) The comparison to anything I make is too depressing for me to try adventurous baking. The kids and I (mostly me) made sugar cookie letters last night for valentine's day that spelled out "we (heart) u mommy" and I was all worried about things like the length of the arms of the w.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:44 AM
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all this would be fixed by telecommuting

Slippery slope, though. If you're contagious sick but feel okay to work, fine. But if you're not feeling well enough to work, I think some employers would be less willing to give you leeway there; after all, you're already working on your couch in your pajamas, right?

It's one of the problems inherent in telecommuting; it's easy to end up working too much, and/or having your employer expect you to do so.

Of course, it's also easy to end up fucking off too much.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:45 AM
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116: Not counting because unpaid. Most people can't afford to take it.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:50 AM
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This seems like it would be a good time to advertisemy mom's cakes, for anyone in the northern virginia region (or possibly DC, if you're nice).


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:52 AM
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First my bleg about the identity of the Mickey Rooney movie with the office full of cats falls on deaf ears, and now nobody wants to tell me what the difference is between the Daniil Kharms books. Hmph.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:52 AM
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I know Jesus has already left for the grocery store, but for everyone else, there was another good cake thread here.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:53 AM
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Decapitated cow, hippo, and armadillo. Sweet.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:54 AM
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What is your criterion, or what are your criteria.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:55 AM
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117: they're fun, aren't they? I bought a clockwork stag beetle from him.


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:56 AM
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47 to 125.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 12:00 PM
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Didn't make it to the store, because my dear little daughters have done something with the key to my truck. Thanks for that thread, SK; Elbie, didn't you have a picture of some amazing cake you made up on the front page sometime last year?

Incidentally, given that strawberries and mermaid have been requested, I'm thinking sliced strawberries for scales. Pretty good, eh? Something tells me I'm going to be up all Friday night making this thing.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 12:02 PM
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111: god dammit, I spent three years studying marine biology and now I've been agnathopwned by some philosopher who's never even got his feet wet. I feel so humiliated.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 12:02 PM
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My show-off picture.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 12:04 PM
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You know what else would solve this problem? Task labor. Wouldn't work for all jobs (mine, for instance), but it makes a lot of sense for many.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 12:06 PM
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Oh, Ned, I've been meaning to look at those Kharms books myself; while you're waiting for an informed response, you might see if you can track down a copy of Russia's Lost Literature of the Absurd, which has selections from both Kharms and Alexander Vvedensky.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 12:07 PM
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sliced strawberries for scales

Sheer genius.

Get yourself a mandoline, if you don't have one.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 12:12 PM
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130: What a gorgeous cake, LB. I don't have the patience for that perfectly-smooth stuff (also my flaw as a woodworker, incidentally).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 12:13 PM
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133 was me.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 12:14 PM
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134: It's easier than it looks -- it's fondant, which is stiff Play-doh. Roll it thin, cut a circle, drape, smooth it down, and it looks smooth as anything.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 12:17 PM
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Jesus McQueen: the latest issue of Cook's Illustrated has a one-minute chocolate frosting that looks, well, like it really takes a minute. No idea what it's like, but I've never had a failure from a CI recipe before.


Posted by: Anarch | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 12:19 PM
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My company has a very sane-for-the-US vacation and sick day policy. Sick days are unlimited and uncounted, any issues that may arise in taking too many are up to the manager's discretion. Same deal with vacation, though the company handbook and employment contracts all prominently have a "suggested minimum of three weeks per year". In practice, most people take at least the three weeks and 4+ is not uncommon when extra days here and there like just-because three day weekends are counted.

Better deal than my consultant friend in the UK, who supposedly has 5-6 weeks vacation a year, but as far as I can tell has been unable to take them apart from a 2 week furlough between assignments at Christmas/NYE.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 12:21 PM
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Treat me like a grown-up, and I'll act like one. Treat me like a little kid looking to get out of school, and you get the flu going around.

My last employer's policy was the same as what ttaM and OFE describe; no sick time, if you were gonna be gone more than 5 days in a row you had to go on short-term disability. It was FUCKING AWESOME.

My current employer does PTO. What was particularly entertaining was negotiating my hire package, and having the HR person tell me "our benefits are awesome!" Not compared to what I had at the time they weren't...


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 12:25 PM
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I could theoretically cancel class while I'm sick, or get a substitute, but the nature of missing a class is such that it would stress me out way more to fall behind in the syllabus than it pains me to simply show up, muscle through, and beg them not to come too close to me. I've never cancelled a class for sickness, despite flu, vomiting in the faculty bathroom, etc.

I.e., I'm a filthy disease-spreading whore.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 12:29 PM
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I've never had a failure from a CI recipe before.

It's all right, it happens to everyone. Don't worry about it.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 12:29 PM
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Most of my coworkers and I spend enough time working nights and weekends that the vacation/sick policy is "don't come in if you don't feel like it. Telling your manager before is appreciated but not essential."


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 12:32 PM
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I.e., I'm a filthy disease-spreading whore

All the good ones are.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 12:34 PM
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129: A surprising number of bright people skip that "slime" chapter.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 12:36 PM
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I take a sick day when I'm feeling sick. If I feel sick for more than 5 working days, I go to the doctor (if I haven't already been) and ask for a sick line. If I'm feeling really ill I ask the doctor to make a house call.

At my workplace, people who feel fine but are probably still infectious are encouraged to take a sick day or to work from home.

Oh yeah... I live in the UK. *thumbs nose*


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 12:38 PM
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various- move to ban UK contributors.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 12:43 PM
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Jesurgislac lives in the UK???

I always mentally placed you in New York. Don't know why.

I take as much sick time and vacation time as I want to not be paid for.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 12:44 PM
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ban UK contributors

Why? The poor dears are stuck on an overpriced rainsoaked island populated mostly by Brits.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 12:48 PM
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131: Task labor

Also known as piecework. Very popular in sweatshops.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 1:09 PM
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If I'm feeling really ill I ask the doctor to make a house call.

Good lord. Even with everything else I know about your fine welfare state, this surprises me. No one's made a house call in the U.S. (to anyone who wasn't uber-rich) since like 1956.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 1:13 PM
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150: My father made house calls until well into the 1970s, but he was a dying breed.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 1:16 PM
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LB, how was the cake itself? Chocolate Oblivion Torte sounds promising.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 1:18 PM
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Dense and soft -- think mousse more than cake. It was almost too much for me -- the kind of thing where you can't eat more than a sliver -- but good. The recipe's in the thread, and the key is good chocolate, because you're almost eating it straight.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 1:20 PM
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Very popular in sweatshops.

And look how successful they are!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 1:28 PM
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I'm looking specifically for a recipe for frosting--the ideal is light, minimally sweet, and with good sculptural properties

You want cream cheese frosting. Not sure how it would go with strawberries but I can't imagine it being bad. Minimally sweet if it's made right, easily spread (I've never tried to sculpt it) and ridiculously simple to make.

Actually, fondant is totally what you want but cream cheese frosting is just so super-simple and you get the cool points of having it be homemade.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 1:29 PM
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41: is this true? every job i've worked at requires a doctor's note for any missed time.

of course this is because i've only had low-wage service sector jobs and this policy is basically meant to force you to work no matter what - obviously if you're sick, you're already missing a day's pay, and going to the doctor (unless you're currently in college and can go to student health) is the equivalent of probably closer to two days' pay, and who's going to do all that just because they're puking and running a fever? better to just show up and trust to the mercy of a manager to send you home.


Posted by: steven crane | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 1:42 PM
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re: 156

Really? I've worked in a bunch of shitty service sector jobs and, generally, most places have varied between requiring a doctor's note after 3 days and after 5. I've never worked anywhere where it was required after 1 [which would be highly impractical].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 2:23 PM
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were any of those places wal-mart?

i figured that the difference between "excused" and "unexcused" absences was something that vanished after high school, but i was wrong.


Posted by: steven crane | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 2:51 PM
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In Australia, the system is more or less UK-like, except that if you take sick leave suspiciously near a public holiday, then you need a doctor's note for 1 day.

Shitty service sector jobs tend to be casual (no leave at all, pay per hour, can be fired with very short noice, you get about 20% more per hour over your permanent colleagues in lieu of leave and notice). At various times there've been legal or union requirements to move people to permanent after about 12 months as a casual. (Healthy young people tend to dislike such moves, they get 20% less money for what doesn't appear to be an interesting benefit. When they discover that they get paid while on holidays, that changes a little.) I'm not sure what the situation is at the moment.

Places where there's some value in longevity tend to let sick leave accrue for years and years, because they want you to eventually come back to work after your heart attack. Or they have some kind of pool of unused hours at the end of each year and people who have a lengthy illness can apply to take leave from the pool rather than their personal allowance. That would require serious evidence from and discussion with a doctor. Software, naturally, tends not to accrue sick leave.

The coverage of how Australians use their leave goes both ways. I recall, in one of those dubious recall-from-newspaper-article-long-in-the-past ways, that more-or-less healthy people tend to find ways to use about 80% of their sick leave, generally by lowering their standards as the year goes on for what sick feels like. But presenteeism is also a commonly discussed problem: Australians work really long hours considering that it's a first world country with commie benefits and apparently sometimes our weird work compulsion induces presenteeism even when sick leave is available.


Posted by: Pineapple | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 2:58 PM
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Jesus McQ: I think your daughter(s?) and I share a birthday. Shall I place my cake request here, or would you prefer e-mail?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 3:01 PM
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150 - can't imagine getting a house call here either, it's becomingly vanishingly rare.

Although I think I did have them after a couple of babies (home births, needed to be okayed by a dr after a day or two - in hospital you get a paed, at home I got my GP who I'm not convinced knew quite what he was doing!).


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 3:05 PM
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147: I've only been to New York once for five days, six years ago.

148: Yeah, and we get way too many American tourists.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 3:15 PM
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Jesus McQ: I think your daughter(s?) and I share a birthday

The 16th? You and they and Kim Jong Il. I'll reserve you a piece, but I don't know how well it'll travel.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 3:20 PM
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Kim Jong Il's birthday party will probably end with more leftover cake. Write to him and ask.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 3:21 PM
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wow. fondant cala lillies on a birthday cake? Very impressive, but dude, my hypothetical kids are never allowed to look at those magazines. I'm a decent cook & decently artistic, but actually getting the food to look artistic requires fine motor skills I lack.

Actually, my mom was quite good with this sort of thing: we had a panda, a chicken, a train (4 bread-pan sized cakes festooned with candy), etc. But those were decorated w/ the supermarket brand icing & a lot of props.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 3:40 PM
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Whoa. I didn't know about Kim Jong Il. Thanks!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 4:15 PM
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165: That's not a standard cake for me -- I put up the picture because I'd impressed the bejeezus out of myself. Normally an ordinary layer cake suffices.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 4:18 PM
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Current workplace: official policy is we have PTO. Unofficial policy in our group is that it's OK to work from home if you're feeling under the weather, and if you're sounding particularly dopey in work chat, you're ordered to step away from the root prompt and go get some rest.

Last job we had separate sick and vacation time, but we couldn't use the vacation time for a full year after our start date. (I'm sure they'd have withheld the sick time too if they'd been able to find a way to do it legally.) We didn't get the day after Thanksgiving as a paid holiday (despite the fact that most of our customers did) and we did get the day after Christmas eventually -- in the company Christmas card, maybe a week beforehand, we got a little note saying that as a "present" we would be able to take the day off paid if we so chose. Needless to say, they later proved themselves to be utter bastards in several other ways.

PTO is an idea that's fantastic if you're in your 20s and work like a dog and never get sick, but maybe not so great when you're older and getting more decrepit and/or have children or older relatives you're responsible for.


Posted by: Magpie | Link to this comment | 02-14-08 11:21 PM
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In the Netherlands, we don't have sick days: if you're sick, you get paid normally, don't get shortened on your holidays AND your employer is obliged to keep paying your wages for a maximum of two years of illness. After that, you get disability benefits. Short illnesses are usually taken on trust, if you're away longer than two weeks the company is legally obliged to both check to see if you're not gaining the system and help you get better through a socalled "reintegration project". A whole industry has sprung up around this; can't beat acapitalism.

The idea behind it is to make sure less people end up on disability benefits, by giving companies a financial incentive to get people back to work. This has lead to a certain amount of abuse.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 02-15-08 1:20 AM
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19: I wish that were me. Fuck my coworkers.


Posted by: yeah right | Link to this comment | 02-16-08 5:43 PM
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