Posts filed under 'Coffee break'

Homer gets a muumuu and other randomata

I am sleep deprived and drowning in deadlines. Posting will continue to be light until May 5th or so. For now, enjoy this freelancer-related randomata.

Here’s what happens when Homer Simpson decides to work from home. (Via Jezebel.)

Here’s what the New York Times has to say about charging your clients enough money. (Here’s what I — and some of you — have to say.)

Here’s what a recent study on individual health insurance found:

People who buy their own health insurance saw their average annual premiums rise 18 percent between 2002 and 2005, a modest increase compared to the 34 percent jump in average premiums for people insured through their employers, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Somehow that didn’t make me feel any better about the 30+ percent increase in my health insurance premiums this year. After all, I don’t have an employer to subsidize the monthly premiums. Instead, I raised my deductible so I can afford coverage. Lame. But a common problem in this country.

Here’s a story that made me feel better about the above. This kind doctor quit the medical rat race and started a clinic that serves people with no health insurance. 40,000 patient visits since 2002. Nice!

1 comment April 25th, 2008

Craigslist ad for freelance gig from hell

Who would answer this (sadly, quite real) Craiglist ad? WHO?

I need a ghost writer, someone to help me finish some stories and make them presentable to be published, I can’t pay for the time and effort, but an willing to give credit where credit is due. I currently have 5 stories, and you can choose which one(s) you want to work on. These are typed out COPIES, I have the originals and will keep them, looking for someone that will not tamper with the original idea, but add to the story to make publishable. I have all the ideas, just no time or patients for details, but it’s all in my head. Please let me know if your interested.

In other words, “Hi, I want to be a published writer, but I don’t want to write. Or learn how to spell. But trust me, I have the chops. It’s all in my head. I just don’t have time to type, or use my brain, or open a dictionary. And you should help me. For free. Because I said so.”

What this person doesn’t realize is that if a writer needs to do a couple freebies to beef up her skimpy portfolio, she’s going to write and publish her own dang articles (say for a cool indie women’s mag, or the newsletter of the women’s shelter down the street), not waste her time with this nonsense. Ads like this do a huge disservice to paid ghostwriting gigs offered by credible authors, business executives, and book publishers.

Promise me you will never answer such an ad. I’d sooner advise you to answer a listing on Craig’s like this.

(This rant made possible by my dear friend Diane, who sent me the CL ad in question.)

7 comments February 17th, 2008

How not to date (at work)

hntd_cover.gifIn honor of Valentine’s Day, I bring you this interview I did with Judy McGuire (Seattle Weekly Dategirl columnist) on love in the workplace for nine-to-fivers, freelancers, and temps alike. Judy’s hot-of-the-presses book, How Not to Date, which features more women and men behaving badly than a Jerry Springer show, had me guffawing out loud. Whether you’re looking for the perfect antidote to this incredibly meaningless holiday, need a few tips on how not to behave around potential paramours, or are happily shacked up but could use a good laugh, I highly recommend it. And if you’re in New York or like getting your giggles by web radio, check out Judy’s east coast events and weekly broadcast.

judy_sofa_sm.gif Q. I can see how screwing your boss, your underlings, or anyone else on your immediate team could come back to bite you in the pants. But what if you hold lust in your heart for someone you don’t interact with on a daily basis, like Darcy in Accounting or Dirk in Marketing? Should you go for it? Any tips as to how?

A. I had a long-term relationship with someone I started off sharing an office with, so I don’t really go in for that whole “don’t poop where you eat” way of thinking. Sure, it might get uncomfortable if things don’t work out, but if you look at the bright side, the resulting drama could entertain your coworkers for months.

Sadly office party season has ended so you can’t do the tried and true drunken lurch under the mistletoe, but there’s always happy hour. Invite your intended out, ostensibly for a group happy hour, but “forget” to ask anyone else. This works best if you can catch him or her while they’re on their way out the door (thus assuring no pesky tagalongs).

Q. Any departments you should never, ever, ever touch, not even with your Mother’s vajayjay? (I’m thinking HR might be a no-no.)

A. Mining the Human Resource department for tail is definitely a bad idea, but I think fooling around with anyone in the IT department is far worse. Those techie types can hack into your email, which is a no-win for any dater. In the beginning, he can read all the mushy crap you’re telling your girlfriends about him — thus costing you any pretense of game — and then after you break up… well, that can be even worse.

Q. What if you’re a temp or contractor who’s going to be out of there in three months? Do the same rules of office chastity apply?

A. But being a temp is like being bisexual — it simply widens your dating pool. Who cares if you’re banging the boss if you’re onto the next job in two weeks? What is it my Nike sneaks are always telling me — “Just do it!”

Q. Many a nine-to-fiver meets their romantic match not at work, but through it — a coworker fixes you up, or your eyes lock across the color copier with that sweet young bike messenger. We work-from-home types miss out on all these potential cubicle hookups. Any suggestions as to how we, too, can exploit our jobs to get laid?

A. Even if we’re lucky enough to work at home in our PJs, most of us still have to either talk or email with other humans. I’ve found that married people are almost always anxious to fix a sister up. They’ll try to fool you into thinking that they feel sorry for your sad single self, but really, your uncomplicated, uncommitted sex life is utterly fascinating to them, so let them have at it. The only problem being is that they’re going to want details. “Wait, you didn’t meet him until ten! At night?!? Did he kiss you? Did you guys, you know, do it?!?!”

That can get kind of annoying, but if you’re the indiscrete type anyway, it’s a small price to pay. Plus, spilling dirty details will inevitably spice up your tragically married friend’s sex life, so you’re really just repaying the favor.

Q. You’re a freelancer who’s lucked into an invite to her star client’s annual holiday party. Do you teetotal, or is it okay to have a glass of wine or three and hit the dance floor?

A. Um, you’re asking a woman named McGuire whether or not you should drink? I’m afraid I don’t understand the question.

Want more McGuire? See her live in NY next week. Listen to her on the radio every Friday. Read her hilarious blog. And by all means, get her book!

2 comments February 6th, 2008

Goodbye, Heath.


1 comment January 23rd, 2008

Commuting by water bike

water-bike.jpgBesides working from home, my best commute to work was for the last staff job I had, back in the early nineties. I lived in Hoboken, New Jersey, two blocks from the PATH train into Manhattan. I’d take the train one stop to 33rd Street and then walk a couple blocks to my publishing job. Easy peasy, though not entirely roomy during rush hour.

Today the Seattle Times ran an article about two guys who live on Bainbridge Island (near Seattle) who commute across the Puget Sound by water bike. As in, across the water. By pedaling, not paddling. One guy shaved his 80-mile roundtrip ride to work to just 12 miles, one of which he does on his water bike.

I’ve kayaked in a bunch of lakes and the sound around here, most notably in the San Juan Islands, and all I can say is, good on them! Sounds like a dream commute to me. No traffic snarls, exhaust fumes, or parking fees. Just exercise, fresh air, and seal pups for company.

OK, so now that we’ve established that I’m a tree humper, what about you? What was your best commute? Your worst? Your weirdest?

4 comments January 22nd, 2008

MDs and ESQs: “I don’t get no respect”

Pity the doctors and lawyers. They slogged through countless, sleepless years of higher education and amassed astronomical student debt only to realize that they’re no longer envied and revered by the rest of us poor working slobs.

According to yesterday’s New York Times, “some doctors and lawyers feel they have slipped a notch in social status, drifting toward the safe-and-staid realm of dentists and accountants.” What’s more, MDs and ESQs “only” make six figures, when much sexier-sounding hedge funders and webpreneurs (some of whom didn’t even go to college — gasp!) are making millions.

Call me callous, but I find it hard to feel sympathy for anyone who chooses a profession just because they think it will sound good at a dinner party. (Why does the Sunday Style section measure everything against the dinner-party yardstick?) This might have something do with the fact that when I was in school, everyone and their grandmother (mine included) regarded Lawyer or Doctor as the holy grail of career choice. As for flexible, creative, entrepreneurial work? That’s what stoners and slackers did.

So score one for the so-called slackers. And note to the Times: Not everyone under 30 in the brave new entrepreneurial workforce wants to be the next Web 2.0 bazillionaire. Some just want to do work they can stomach, have some time left over to spend with the people they love, and avoid a hefty dry cleaning bill in the process.

11 comments January 7th, 2008

Makeup makes the woman (or man) in the boardroom, says scary-sounding new book

In the book Drop Dead Brilliant, Lesley Everett, described by her publisher as “the United Kingdom’s leading professional branding expert,” writes:

It is a fact that women who wear make-up in business generally get better jobs, get promoted more quickly and get paid more… in a survey, 64 per cent of directors said that women who wore make-up look more professional and 18 per cent of directors said that women who do not wear make-up “look like they can’t be bothered to make an effort.”

Well, colo(u)r me not making an effort. I wear makeup so infrequently that when I do I feel like a mime. But before you cry foul! blasphemy! sexism! know that men are not immune in Everett’s perfectly quaffed pod-person workworld:

Men also need to consider make-up, which is something they should be aware of for diminishing minor skin imperfections that could be distracting. Foundation or base make-up should be considered if your skin tone is uneven or blotchy, and certainly if you are presenting under bright lights or making a TV appearance. Always apply your base after a moisturiser. Choose a colour close to your natural skin tone and you will give your skin a healthy and natural appearance.

Everett certainly isn’t the first career consultant (or whatever you call someone who’s making a living by telling people they need to go shopping) to say that image is everything, and I’ll be the first to admit that in some circles it is, however stupid or unfair. I quoted an HR expert saying as much in this article. And I’ve certainly been known to wash my hair and wax my eyebrows and use deoderant before a public reading or TV interview.

But in the interest of not making an effort, I’ll stay the hell away from cookie-cutter corporate cultures that won’t let me wear my worn-out jeans and hand-screened T’s to meetings. And if I have to meet a client face to face (which rarely every happens, thanks to the interweb), I will take a few extra seconds to throw a beloved vintage blazer over the whole ensemble. More often than not, I’ll be the one who’s overdressed for the meeting.

(Thanks to my pal Diane for sending me the Times Online piece. The photos are priceless.)

8 comments December 5th, 2007

Death by cuteness

My Puppy's First JournalSince I’m trotting out all my freelance projects this week and I was just talking about pet photography, I want to introduce you to a journal/book I worked on last summer that Sasquatch Books recently published. It’s called My Puppy’s First Journal, and it features the stunning pet photography of Emily Rieman, proprietress of Best Friend Photography in Seattle. There’s only one way to describe Emily’s work: so freaking gorgeous-adorable it makes you coo and goo and blubber like a baby, which I of course mean in the best possible way.

It probably won’t come as any shock that this goes down in history as my best freelance project ever. It wasn’t as high-paying as, say, my less-sexy mega-corporate high-tech work, but it was hardly work to sift through achingly cute puppy shot after achingly cute puppy shot and come up with accompanying text like, “the first time I humped my person’s leg,” “the first time I pooped on the carpet,” or “the thing I did in front of company that embarrassed my person so much they had to change their name and move to the next state.” (That last one’s not in the book, but I kind of wish it was.) Working on this project was one of those freelance high points where I almost felt guilty accepting money because I was having so much fun. And the fact that Emily was a blast to work with was just icing on the already delectable cake.

dexter.jpgSo… if you’re a pup fan or you have friends who recently adopted a four-legged bundle of joy, I highly recommend this one. And for the record, this is Emily’s book, not mine. As in, she earns the royalties. I was paid a flat fee by the publisher for my work on the project. So the only thing I get out of you buying the book is the satisfaction of knowing that more people will get to slobber over Emily’s scrumptious pup photos and that another freelancer’s doggone done good.

2 comments October 12th, 2007

Sir Freelancelot

Tell me you don’t want this T-shirt! Thanks to Ariel for sending me the link.

Add comment October 7th, 2007

It came from the conference room…

I’m writing my next PayScale story, and I need anecdotes about your worst workplace meeting ever! I’ve been in meetings where someone fell asleep (OK, it was me), the person who called the meeting had no idea why we were all there, the meeting went on so long we all had to work overtime to get our daily to-do lists done…but that’s nothing new. What nightmares have you experienced in the conference room? Did the batphone for those lucky enough to telecommute blow up? Did someone have a seizure and yet your manager continued to drone on as though nothing had happened? Was there a Jerry Springer-esque smackdown in which the attendees removed their earrings, shoes, ties, and shirts before beating each other to a bloody pulp with their laptops?

Send me your best TRUE meeting nightmare tales — either in the comments below or via this email addressby Monday, October 8. Let me know if I can use your first name, industry, and city, or if you prefer to remain anonymous (in which case, you will get a pseudonym if I use your horror story in the piece). I will snail mail the person with the craziest TRUE meeting nightmare tale a signed copy of my book. Okay? So start dishing… Thanks.

3 comments September 30th, 2007

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Hi, my name's Michelle Goodman and I've been freelancing since 1992. I'm author of My So-Called Freelance Life and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide. Read my full bio here.

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