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Get Your Halloween Out of My Face!

Get Your Halloween Out of My Face!
    Is this "eye" evil enough for you?

    I know some people love Halloween, but can we keep it out of the office?

    This is not to say that you can’t go out and have all the drunken, costumed fun you want with your friends after hours — I just don’t want to deal with it at work.

    Remember, we’re not friends — I’m just barely tolerating you for 8-9 hours a day, and if I win the lottery, I’ll be flipping you off on my way out the door. I don’t want to be the killjoy, but it’s just that I think there’s no joy in this to start with.

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    Why?

    Really?!

    Hmmm — let me think…

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    #1: “I wish I could forget.”

    Putting aside all the inappropriate costumes which I’m not addressing here, because I think the problem with those is obvious, there’s still plenty more who dress up on Halloween in the office, and there are consequences for doing so. Namely, we remember, or more accurately– we can’t forget. Seriously I wish people would think these things through:

    • When the 300 lb. nerd comes in a skin-tight Superman costume, there’s just no “unremembering” that. That was two years ago, and yet every time he sends out an email, I still think of the comment “I guess Doritos are his Kryptonite.” Even when I’m looking you in the eye all I can see is your junk in spandex.
    • Clowns. There is nothing in America more polarizing than clowns. Some people love them, some people hate and fear them. Do you really want to take the chance that your boss or your boss’s boss is a clown-hater, and that you’ll be condemned to dead-end work for the rest of you time at the company?

    And it’s not just coworkers you need to consider before coming in looking like a fool. Last year we were desperately trying to hire someone, and no one thought that calling them into interview on the costume day was a problem. Two of the people interviewing were in full, ridiculous costume. The person never returned our calls after. When I pointed this out, I was told the costumes let them know “what a fun office we are”, which is problematic because:

    • We were going to expect that person to work very hard initially to catch up, so we needed a serious, motivated person.
    • We’re not a fun office. We’re the opposite of fun– we’re overly political, nitpicking, backbiting, gossiping jerks, and that’s just my boss. And one day of costumes doesn’t make us any less awful.

    Finally, a meeting on Halloween is half straight and half scary, so it looks like when The Addams Family visits their neighbors.

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    #2: The Enthusiasm Gap

    There’s always an enthusiasm and creativity gap at the office Halloween party. Some people go way over the top, and others phone it in. Two years ago one of the managers criticized people who didn’t put much effort into costumes. Really. Where in our job descriptions does it say we have to have good costumes? “Oh, I see here that you have an engineering degree from MIT, but what was your costume last year?”

    My biggest concern is that our job performance should not be judged by our costumes. Any attempt to correlate effort in costume to success at work is ridiculous and insulting. The boss who criticizes someone for not being in the spirit ends up sounding like the restaurant manager in Office Space complaining that she has only the minimum pieces of flair. We have enough lazy, stupid people not pulling their weight, so it’s a bad idea to encourage them to divert what little effort they actually put into the job into picking out a costume.

    And don’t get me started on when they give out a prize like getting a paid day off FOR THE BEST COSTUME. How about a paid day off for working all weekend on the presentation that won a new client? Or for working late for two weeks to launch a project that had to meet a ridiculous deadline, especially considering none of us get overtime?

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    But the thing that always makes my case about how ridiculous things have gotten is the voting for Best Costume. Because that’s when it all goes horribly wrong. When the shy girl wears the same costume as the popular girl, but the popular girl puts almost no effort in and still gets more votes. It always happens. Priceless.

    And then there’s the cruelty. One year a few people voted for an annoying coworker who wasn’t in costume and he won for his “douche costume”. It may have been deserved, but it was mean. And the people who put on earnest costumes and made an effort were mad because the prize didn’t go to them, which it should have. I almost regret what I did.

    So, in conclusion…

    Halloween in the office is great if you want to see your coworkers dressed up, spend way too much time competing for something that won’t help us go home on time, or if you’re into something that creates new opportunities for favoritism and hurt feelings.

    Let’s just skip it and save all our resentment and hatred for the work that pays the bills.

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    Last Updated on October 23, 2018

    Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally

    Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally

    My mother was a great knitter and produced some wonderful garments such as Aran sweaters which were extremely fashionable when I was young. She also knitted while my father drove, which caused great amusement. I often wondered why she did that but I think I know the answer now.

    Knitting is good for your mental health, according to some research studies. The Washington Post mentions a 2013 survey of about 3,500 knitters who were asked how they felt after a knitting session. Over 80% of them said they definitely felt happier. It is not a totally female occupation as more and more men take it up to get the same benefits. Harry Styles (One Direction) enjoys knitting. So does Russell Crowe although he does it to help him with anger management!

    The Neural Knitwork Project

    In Australia, Neural Knitworks was started to encourage people to knit and also become aware of neuroscience and mental health issues. Knit-ins were organized but garments were not the only things created. The knitters produced handmade neurons (1,665 of them!) to make a giant brain. The 2015 project will make more neural knitted networks (neural knitworks) and they will be visible online. You can see some more examples of woolly neurons on the Neural Knitworks Facebook page.

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    While people knitted, crocheted and crafted yarn, they listened to experts talking about mental health issues such as addiction, dementia, depression, and how neurons work.

    The knitting and neural connection

    The human brain has about 80 billion neurons. Learning new skills, social interaction, and physical activity all help to forge neural connections which keep the brain healthy and active. They are creating networks to control movement and make memories. The knitters learn that as they create the woollen neurons, their own neurons are forming new pathways in their brains. Their creations are mimicking the processes in their brains to a certain extent. At the same time, their brains are registering new and interesting information as they learn interesting facts about the brain and how it works. I love the knitworks and networks pun. What a brilliant idea!

    More mental health benefits from knitting

    Betsan Corkhill is a physiotherapist and has published some results of completed studies on her website, appropriately named Stitchlinks. She conducted some experiments herself and found that knitting was really helpful in reducing panic and anxiety attacks.

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    “You are using up an awful lot of brain capacity to perform a coordinated series of movements. The more capacity you take up by being involved in a complex task, the less capacity you have for bad thoughts.”- Betsan Corkhill

    Knitters feel happier and in a better mood

    Ann Futterman-Collier, Well Being Lab at Northern Arizona University, is very interested in how textile therapy (sewing, knitting, weaving and lace-making) can play an important role in mood repair and in lifting depressive states.

    She researched 60 women and divided them into three different groups to do some writing, meditating and work with textiles. She monitored their heartbeat, blood pressure and saliva production. The women in the textiles group had the best results when their mood was assessed afterwards. They were in a better mood and had managed to reduce their negative thoughts better than those in the writing and meditation groups.

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    “People who were given the task to make something actually had less of an inflammatory response in the face of a ‘stressor’.” – Dr. Futterman Collier

    The dopamine effect on our happiness

    Our brains produce a chemical called dopamine. This helps us to feel happy, more motivated, and assists also with focus and concentration. We get a boost of dopamine after sex, food, exercise, sleep, and creative activities.

    There are medications to increase dopamine but there are lots of ways we can do it naturally. Textile therapy and crafting are the easiest and cheapest. We can create something and then admire it. In addition, this allows for a little bit of praise and congratulations. Although this is likely not your goal, all these can boost our dopamine and we just feel happier and more fulfilled. These are essential in facing new challenges and coping with disappointment in life.

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    “Sometimes, people come up to me when I am knitting and they say things like, “Oh, I wish I could knit, but I’m just not the kind of person who can sit and waste time like that.” How can knitting be wasting time? First, I never just knit; I knit and think, knit and listen, knit and watch. Second, you aren’t wasting time if you get a useful or beautiful object at the end of it.” – Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much.

    If you thought knitting and textiles were for old ladies, think again!

    Featured photo credit: DSC_0012/Mary-Frances Main via flickr.com

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