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Archive for the ‘Notes’ Category

Welcome

In Notes on March 21, 2017 at 12:05 am

Work Stew is a collection of original essays and in-depth interviews. To learn more, please visit the FAQ.

New essays and interviews will be added regularly, so please check in often. Or you can sign up to receive email notifications of new contentlook for the button at the bottom right of the site.

Also, Work Stew now has its very own Facebook page; if you ‘like’ it, you’ll be able to see periodic updates in your news feed. You can also receive notices of new content via Twitter.

 

A brief history:

The site was launched in January 2011, when I published “Random Acts of Business,” an essay about extraordinarily long hot dogs, True Believers, and my lifelong quest for flow. Since then more than 70 other essays have been added to the mix.

You can view a complete list of contributors here. To date, the Top Ten Readers’ Favorites* are (in alphabetical order):

Molly Bishop Shadel A law professor writes about juggling her wide-ranging legal career with a personal life

Gerald Casale A founding member of the ground-breaking and enduring band Devo reflects on what constitutes “work.” 

Samantha Cole A prep school grad embraces her “inner laborer.” 

Ronald J. Granieri An historian pulls back the ivy to reveal what life in academia is really like.  

Tasha Huebner A self-employed Wharton grad takes a hammer to the old chestnut, “Do what you love, and the money will come.” 

Meg Heimovics Kumin A software developer reboots after three babies and two family crises and emerges as a photographer

Gopi Kallayil A Googler ponders the power of intention after an idea scribbled on a piece of paper almost immediately springs to life. 

Lindsay Moran Following the Abbottabad raid, an ex-spy reflects on her decision to leave the CIA

Rhino A soldier describes what it’s like to come home, including what goes through his mind when someone says to him, “Thank you for your service.” 

Terri Rowe A longtime factory worker reveals the secret identity that has sustained her since she was four years old. 

If you’re interested in submitting an essay of your own, please write to me at kate@workstew.com. I’d love to hear your story.

Thanks,
Kate

Kate Gace Walton
Editor, Work Stew

*Note: ‘Readers’ Favorite’ is a pretty subjective designation based on page views, shares, comments, and the volume of love/hate mail each essay has so far inspired. So, read all the essays; as they say, your mileage may vary.

Seeking Politically-Motivated Job Changers

In Notes on February 18, 2017 at 9:57 am

Work Stew readers and friends of Work Stew readers (FOWSRs):

Do you know someone who has recently left a non-political job to run for office or engage full-time (in some other way) in the political process?

If so, and if they’re willing to share their story, I’d love to connect via email: kate@workstew.com.

I’m looking to talk to someone (via email or phone) within the next week if possible.

Thanks,

Kate

Kate Gace Walton
Editor, Work Stew

What’s Happening Here?

In Notes on August 18, 2016 at 5:28 am

A brief note from Work Stew editor Kate Gace Walton:

Earlier this month, I posted the following note on Work Stew’s Facebook page:

Some of you know that in early 2015 I put most of Work Stew on hold. I was overwhelmed all of a sudden by the demands of my job, my family, and the needs of several friends in crisis.

Things feel more stable now (::Kate furiously knocks on wood::) so I’m thinking, for the first time in 18 months, about where to take things:

Do I return to the task of soliciting essays? Do I conduct more writing contests? Should I use funds that I previously put towards contest prizes to instead pay writers who submit pieces chosen for publication?

Do I return to the podcast? If so, what should I change?

Do I call it a day and move on entirely?

What are your thoughts? Is there anything in particular you’d like to see happen on the site and/or with this forum?

I then posted another note, which I am also sharing here because not everyone uses Facebook:

Regarding plans for Work Stew:

Thanks for the comments and ideas–those that were posted here [on Facebook] and those sent via PM/email. They were very helpful.

I’ve decided I’m going to take the rest of 2016 to recover from some of the hard stuff that’s happened over the last 18 months–it’s been a doozy of time–and to keep thinking things through.

During this time, I’ll keep posting here [on Facebook] and on Twitter but the site itself will remain more or less on hold. By mid-December, I’ll publish a post outlining my plans for the next phase.

Thanks again for all the kind words and support. They mean a lot to me!

See you in a few months. If you need to reach me in the meantime, please feel free to email me: kate@workstew.com. 

Latest Interview: Former Jeopardy Champ Arthur Chu

In Notes on July 25, 2015 at 6:30 pm

Screen-Shot-2015-07-25-at-1.00.22-PM-271x300The Work Stew podcast is still on hold, but I recently recorded a quick chat with former Jeopardy champion Arthur Chu. Chu has emerged as one of today’s most consistently interesting columnists, and I wanted to talk to him about a piece he wrote for Salon called “Gather around, screwed millennials: You must see this.” We discussed the movie that he feels speaks to his generation of job hunters, and we discussed his own career path to date.

Image: used with permission from Arthur Chu.

Coming Up on Work Stew…

Lately, the stirring of the Stew has been increasingly tough to pull off. There just aren’t enough hours in the day, and (TMI alert) I’m really, really tired. So for some time now, I’ve stopped soliciting new essays to publish and, a few months back, I put the podcast on pause. However, I can’t bear to stop Work Stew all together: I’m too attached to the daily ritual not just of working but of thinking about work. I’m also too attached to all of you. So here’s my plan:

  • The posts and chats (on Facebook and Twitter) will continue. These aren’t terribly time-consuming for me, and I figure social media breaks are a better idea than, say, smoking breaks. Especially for a non-smoker.
  • I will continue to hold off on the podcast for now. If I run across someone I feel compelled to interview, I may record a new episode, but going forward I won’t be adhering to a regular (every two weeks) distribution schedule.
  • I will gladly accept essays if anyone feels moved to write one and to send it to me, but I won’t be actively soliciting them.
  • What I will be doing—to encourage a steady stream of original writing about work—is hosting four writing contests per year. Each contest will have a work-related prompt, a word limit (600 words), and a prize ($200 for the winner). After each round, I will publish the winner’s entry and possibly a few other finalists. So that you can plan ahead (humor me, people!), here are the dates for the next four rounds:
CONTEST #6 (HAPPENING NOW!)
Prompt announced: July 15, 2015
Deadline: August 15, 2015
***
CONTEST #7
Prompt announced: October 15, 2015
Deadline: November 15, 2015
***
CONTEST #8
Prompt announced: January 15, 2016
Deadline: February 15, 2016
Work Stew Essay Contest copy

I hope this approach appeals to at least some of you. Let me know: kate@workstew.com. And if any of you have other ideas—suggestions on how the Stew might evolve over time without requiring me to pull all-nighters—please throw those thoughts into the mix as well. As always, thank you for reading, and thank you for chiming in.

New: Episode 2 of The Cartwheel Project

In Notes on June 16, 2015 at 8:00 am

Here’s Episode 2, wherein I investigate whether the laws of physics are on my side.

 

To go back to Episode 1, skip over here.

To read the post that started it all, jump to this.

(Hope you noticed that all my hyperlinks are now calisthenics-themed?)

The Cartwheel Project
FAQ

What is The Cartwheel Project?

I’ve never been able to do a cartwheel and I really, really want to. So my quest—to do one, or to walk away with a definitive understanding of why I can’t—that’s The Cartwheel Project.

Do you realize how unflattering the videos are?

Oh yes. This is not the fault of the producer, Visual Story Productions, which is helmed by my kind husband, Chris Walton; it’s just what happens when you take an honest look at a genuine weakness. And as they say: no pain, no gain.

When will the next video be released?

We aim to release new episodes every 4-6 weeks. We need some wiggle room because: life.

The suspense is killing me. How can I manage my anxiety while I wait for the next installment?

Join the fun! If you’re willing to spend a minute on a short survey, please tell us if YOU can do a cartwheel.

Also, is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but can’t? If so, have you written it off entirely, or is there a chance there’s still time? Please send me your stories. As I spend the summer trying to turn my first cartwheel, it would be good to know what feats—large or small—the rest of you are tackling. I can be reached via emailFacebook, and Twitter.

The Cartwheel Project

In Notes on June 1, 2015 at 8:02 am

By Kate Gace Walton

 

I cannot do a cartwheel, not because I’m injured or unwell; I just can’t seem to pull it off.

A couple weekends ago, I tried to imagine that my life depended on it (“Area Woman Forced to Do Cartwheels at Gunpoint”) and still: no go.

I get my hands down, but when I try to swing my legs up and over, they’re like cement. It looks more like a weird pushup than a cartwheel.

Not only am I unable to do a cartwheel now, at age 45; I’ve never been able to do one. Not as a child. Not as a teenager. Not as a younger adult. For the most part, this has not been a problem. My cartwheeling friends have always seemed sanguine enough about letting me hang with them. Cartwheeling prowess never cropped up on college applications, on dates, or in job interviews. And the powers-that-be in my current life—my employers, the IRS, the DMV, election officials, class moms, etc.—seem wholly unconcerned with acrobatics of any kind. So yes, it’s safe to say that one can remain right side up and get by just fine.

And yet even in this world where there are millions of more pressing concerns, it’s hard to let it go.

For one thing, turning a cartwheel just looks so fun. On a summer evening, with a carpet of green grass beneath you, what could feel more free, more joyous?

And then there’s that nagging concern: if you’re otherwise able-bodied, what does not being able to do a cartwheel say about you? That you’re uptight? Anxious? Fearful? And that these psychological hang ups will forever limit you, keeping you not only from a host of simple joys but perhaps also from one or two substantive accomplishments that might otherwise be within your reach? Is that what it means???

When you go down that path, suddenly not being able to do a cartwheel seems like an issue. At the very least, you want an expert—perhaps a physicist!—to tell you that it’s not mental. Maybe short-torsoed giants like myself (I’m 5’11”) have a center of gravity that makes cartwheels literally impossible. That would be sad but not as sad.

And if it is a mental limitation, maybe a different sort of expert—Tony Robbins?—could help me to engineer a psychological breakthrough. Ideally, without hot coals/third-degree burns.

This quest—to do a cartwheel, or to walk away with a definitive understanding of why I can’t—that’s The Cartwheel Project. Over the course of the project, we’ll be releasing a series of videos documenting my efforts. Many of these videos are likely to be unflattering. This is not the fault of the producer, Visual Story Productions, which is helmed by my kind husband, Chris Walton; it’s just what happens when you take an honest look at a genuine weakness. And as they say: no pain, no gain.

***

You? Can you do a cartwheel? If you’re willing to spend a minute on a short survey, please let us know.

Also, is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but can’t? If so, have you written it off entirely, or is there a chance there’s still time? Please send me your stories. As I spend the summer trying to turn my first cartwheel, it would be good to know what feats—large or small—the rest of you are tackling. I can be reached via email, Facebook, and Twitter.

 

 

 

 

The Plan Going Forward

In Notes on May 6, 2015 at 11:02 pm

A note from Work Stew editor Kate Gace Walton:

“The plan going forward” is of course a silly phrase. (After all, you can’t make a plan going backward; you can’t plan the past. If you could, I’m sure we’d all have done a whole lot better.) But I digress.

What I want to discuss here is the plan for Work Stew. As many of you know, this site sprung from a mid-life crisis of sorts: back in 2011, I knew I needed a career change, but I had—in the form of an essay I’d written one night—only the fuzziest notions of what to seek (“flow?”).

However, simply by putting that essay out into the world, good things started to happen: the discipline of having to pin my swirling thoughts into sentences, and the small but robust community that developed as others chose to do the same, helped guide me towards a better fit.

But even as I settled happily into a new career, I realized: with a subject as complicated as work, the stewing never stops. It just evolves. Both at a personal level and at a societal level, there are always difficult questions to ponder, thorny issues to tackle.

So, I pressed on with Work Stew: posting work-related stories on Facebook and Twitter, editing essays at night, producing podcasts on weekends. And I loved it—all of it. For the first time in 20 years, I felt again what I was lucky enough to experience in college: a community of kindred spirits, drawing on a diverse set of backgrounds and experiences, to discuss ideas…and to help each other find our way. Truly, it has been both comforting and exhilarating—which is a weird but wonderful combination.

Lately, though, the stirring of the Stew has been increasingly tough to pull off. There just aren’t enough hours in the day, and (TMI alert) I’m really, really tired. So for some time now, I’ve stopped soliciting new essays to publish and, a few months back, I put the podcast on pause. However, I can’t bear to stop Work Stew all together: I’m too attached to the daily ritual not just of working but of thinking about work. I’m also too attached to all of you. So here’s my plan:

  • The posts and chats (on Facebook and Twitter) will continue. These aren’t terribly time-consuming for me, and I figure social media breaks are a better idea than, say, smoking breaks. Especially for a non-smoker.
  • I will continue to hold off on the podcast for now. If I run across someone I feel compelled to interview, I may record a new episode, but going forward I won’t be adhering to a regular (every two weeks) distribution schedule.
  • I will gladly accept essays if anyone feels moved to write one and to send it to me, but I won’t be actively soliciting them.
  • What I will be doing—to encourage a steady stream of original writing about work—is hosting four writing contests per year. Each contest will have a work-related prompt, a word limit (600 words), and a prize ($200 for the winner). After each round, I will publish the winner’s entry and possibly a few other finalists. So that you can plan ahead (humor me, people!), here are the dates for the next four rounds:
CONTEST #5
Prompt announced: April 15, 2015
Deadline: May 15, 2015
***
CONTEST #6
Prompt announced: July 15, 2015
Deadline: August 15, 2015
***
CONTEST #7
Prompt announced: October 15, 2015
Deadline: November 15, 2015
***
CONTEST #8
Prompt announced: January 15, 2016
Deadline: February 15, 2016
Work Stew Essay Contest copy

I hope this approach appeals to at least some of you. Let me know: kate@workstew.com. And if any of you have other ideas—suggestions on how the Stew might evolve over time without requiring me to pull all-nighters—please throw those thoughts into the mix as well. As always, thank you for reading, and thank you for chiming in.

 

The Stew in the News

In Notes on November 1, 2014 at 11:24 am

Screen Shot 2013-12-06 at 5.30.04 PM

“Random Acts of Business,” the essay I wrote to launch Work Stew back in 2011, was re-published in The Huffington Post. It’s located in a section called ‘The Third Metric,’ which focuses on “redefining success beyond money and power.”

nprAlso, Ashley Gross of KPLU (Seattle’s NPR station) talked to me about why I started the site, why I keep at it, and what I’ve learned.

Many Work Stew contributors came along for the ride: photographer Meg Heimovics Kumin and flight attendant-turned-gorilla caretaker John Safkow were featured in the radio version of the story (click the blue ‘listen’ button to hear it).

Devo founder Gerald Casale, python hunter Ruben Ramirez, high-rise window washer David Schmidt, lice remover Lisa Weisberg, former corporate lawyer Kevin McHargue, and carpenter Samantha Cole all made appearances in the accompanying print piece.

cof2014smaller-1Work Stew went to the woods: I was honored to present at Islandwood’s tenth annual Circle of Friends event, where Cheryl Strayed, best-selling author of WILD and TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS, served as the keynote speaker.

My session, which wrapped up a weekend-long retreat, focused on writing as a tool for personal development. In my talk, I got to highlight the essays of several Work Stew contributors. Thank you, as always, for letting me share your stories.

Stewing on Stage: A Brief Story Slam Round-Up

july2013-slam-web1I love swapping stories here at Work Stew. I think of it as a virtual water cooler where someone is always around with a tale to tell.

But there’s also something to be said for telling a story live—on stage, with no notes, to a crowd of people whose faces you can see.

I’ve done that three times now, at the Bainbridge Island Story Slam, and it’s really, really fun. If your community is currently slam-free, perhaps you should get one going? Feel free to reach out via Facebook or email (kate@workstew.com) and I’ll explain the logistics, which are gloriously simple.

In the meantime, for a taste of the tales you might hear at such an event, here’s my latest. The theme was ‘Dating: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’—but, as you’ll see, my story has a small connection to work as well.

My other slam tales, which focused more centrally on work, were about the summer job I had at Yellowstone National Park and my most memorable night shift.

Flick Picks

In Notes on October 12, 2014 at 6:48 am

1794722_867076539976832_8336157486925416530_nNote: The process of reviewing new submissions to the site is currently on hold; in the meantime, here is a piece from the archives. 

The other day, I asked Work Stew readers on Facebook to share their favorite work-related movies. Not just office-related—any type of work.

Below is a list of the flicks that have been suggested so far. I ranked them in order of their Rotten Tomatoes score (the percentage to the right), so that you can get a quick sense of how popular they are more generally.

What would you suggest? Please email me (kate@workstew.com) and I’ll add your picks to the list.

Lost in Translation (2003), 95% on RottenTomatoes

The Sessions (2012), 94%

Glengary Glen Ross (1994), 94%

Fargo (1996), 94%

Up in the Air (2009), 91%

Network (1976), 91%

High Fidelity
 (2000), 91%

Adaptation (2002), 91%

Norma Rae (1979), 90%

Michael Clayton (2007), 90%

Chef (2014), 88%

Jerry Maguire
 (1996), 85%

Dead Poets Society (1989), 85%

Cedar Rapids (2011), 85%

Working Girl (1988), 84%

Erin Brockovich (2000), 84%

9 to 5 (1980), 82%

Baby Boom (1987), 81%

Office Space (1999), 79%

Wall Street (1987), 78%

Mystic Pizza (1998), 78%

Devil Wears Prada (2006), 75%

The Last Days of Disco (1998), 71%

Horrible Bosses (2011)
, 69%

The Company Men (2011), 67%

Boiler Room (2000), 67%

Clay Pigeons (1998), 63%

Pretty Woman
 (1990), 62%

Secret of My Success (1987), 58%

Joe vs. the Volcano (1990), 58%

The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009), 51%

Empire Records (1995), 24%

Suggested by Work Stew readers but not rated on Rotten Tomatoes:

Death of a Salesman (1951)

Deskset (1957)

His Girl Friday (1940)

I’m All Right, Jack (1959)

 

 

A Memory Smorgasbord

In Notes on July 16, 2014 at 6:08 pm

photo-2Yesterday on Facebook, I asked:

What do you remember most from visiting your mom or dad on the job? For example, my kids love the electric pencil sharpener at my office; they just can’t get enough of it. What do *you* remember noticing as a pint-sized workplace visitor?

Below, in the order they came in (and edited only to string together follow-on posts or to fix typos) are the responses I received. Since many Work Stew readers aren’t on Facebook, I thought I’d share them here as well.

To add a memory of your own, please email me at kate@workstew.com. I’m always happy to throw another tidbit into the Stew!

Rebecca Kerr: The peppermint bowl!

Navin Madras: The typewriters, a whole row of them. My mom worked as a stenographer at a company that manufactured sewing thread. The office was about a 15-minute walk from school. Oh, the joy of pounding the keys and hearing them clack, the ding of the carriage, that satisfying slide and stop when you return it. And to beat all those, rolling the spool of spent typrewriter-ribbon across the floor.

Heather Walton Barnhart: My dad is a train dispatcher, and I could see rows and rows of these lines that represented the trains…that and the moveable keyboard and rolling chair! The lines were displayed on computer screens back in the DOS days…very cool as a kid when computers were new and exciting. They were different colors depending on what they were doing…red, white, and green. It was like Christmas! And they blinked. I’d say there were 20 or so screens, three rows high, several monitors-long wrapping around the desk. If I was lucky, I got to sit in the chair and roll side to side to watch them. It was neat.

Bethany M. Allen: My dad worked for the forest service. During the summer, my siblings and I would nag him to take us along when he went to work, even though it meant leaving the house super early. We would spend most of the day riding all over the beautiful state of Maine in his big, green truck. I remember the dewy summer mornings, Italian sandwiches for lunch, and hanging my hand out the open window as we drove along.

Emily Sato: The black ball point pens that said “U.S. Government” on the side. The dark green linoleum in the Department of Interior building. The huge rooms full of lab equipment making funny noises. Oh, and the moon rocks in plastic baggies.

Trish Bittman: I loved helping my dad’s secretary file and I thought it was so cool my dad’s suite mate had a TV in his office.

Chad Barker: The photocopier. They owned their own company together so I felt entitled (when have I not?!) to put whatever items I wanted onto that glass. I also loved going into the office supply closet.

Justin Ausmeier: The “flight chair” and little spit bowl next to the flight chair in my dad’s dental office. The drills were cool too!

Marcy Porus-Gottlieb: The dictaphone in my dad’s doctors office. He used it to dictate patient notes—my sister and I sang into it!

Melissa Rich: The Norman Rockwell paintings in my dad’s office—and lots and lots of stacks of papers! I now have the Rockwell prints and also have stacks and stacks of papers. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Annie Pearson: It’s possible to squirt milk directly into a cat’s mouth when milking a cow. (Never learned to do it myself…)

Christine de Brabander: The very cold room where they kept the computer. And, that there was a bicycle out in the warehouse/plant area that was for getting around quickly. My dad worked at a Chrysler plant, in the office section of the parts depot. He was also a UAW officer there, so the really *magical* thing wasn’t in his office, it was that when he went on a business trip to Detroit, he brought back this little bag of salted peanuts from the plane.

Lisa Maguire: My father was a Freudian psychoanalyst, so we could only go to his office when it was empty. Sometimes we went to the office to clean it on weekends. I noticed that he doodled in the margins of his notepads (he eventually stopped taking notes—when did they all stop doing that?). We liked to play on his couch.

Dana Sweany-Schumacher: I remember walking into the embassy lobby and seeing the marine security guards on duty in the guard box, wearing their dress blues.

I also remember my dad sweeping his desk clear into his top drawer as soon as he sighted us. I always thought it was top secret papers he was hiding. I did not realize, until I was a teenager, that it was his cigarettes and ashtray. Turns out my dad was a chain smoker at work until he quit around the time I headed to college. However, I never saw him smoke a single cigarette my whole life. He did not want my sisters and me to know he smoked or to think it was okay.

Erika Dreifus: Definitely the typewriters. Also, the gumball machine—no coins needed!—in one of my dad’s colleagues’ offices. And the view of the Statue of Liberty from Dad’s window. (Um, maybe I should have re-ordered my responses. But maybe as a little kid I did think the gumball machine trumped Lady Liberty.)

Michael T Heath: My mother worked for AT&T, so we didn’t get in as kids. Dad was service manager for Buick, and I recall making a fishing pole out of a car antenna and ‘fishing’ in a barrel of old motor oil from a stairway in the shop.

Lindsay Moran: My dad worked for the David Taylor Naval Research and Development Center where there was a ginormous (very dimly lit) towing tank that seemed dangerously easy to fall into and never be seen again. Also, he worked in a cubicle-sized safe, and his secretary answered the phone with, “This in an insecure line.” My mother worked at University of Maryland’s office of readmissions and had three hot male undergrads as her assistants. I could walk by myself across the green to The Dairy—for the University of Maryland’s world famous homemade ice cream.

Roger Pitcher: My Dad worked at an Engineering company. We would drive over in the evenings to pick him up in our ’56 Dodge (with fins). We would wait out front, our car parked next to the Chairman’s limousine. The driver, who wore a uniform, would open the back door and let me and my sister look in. It was the first time I ever encountered an air-conditioned automobile. I remember it was very, very cold.

Aaron M Berntson: My Dad was a teacher and taught shop for a few years. I remember coming in on the weekends while he worked on one or another projects and playing chase with my dog between all of the shop benches that were set up checker board style. The smell of sawdust was in the air.

Pam Older: My dad was a dentist and I learned about making jewelry using dental wax and tools from him. I was always very crafty so that was a revelation and I loved to work in his lab and make simple rings. I never thought about this before but this was a precursor to my becoming a jewelry designer!

Meesh Joslyn Pierce: My Dad was a radio producer for the likes of Casey Kasem’s American Top 40, King Biscuit Flower Hour, and other shows broadcast around the world on Armed Forces Radio. I remember the smell of the studio and the 2′-3′ strips of reel-to-reel tape my Dad had on the inside of his metal storage locker that were expletives he’d spliced out of the recording sessions!

Nina Slotkin Fortmeyer: I rarely went to my father’s office in NYC, but I liked the copy machine. Not much there for a kid.

Amy Hillgren Peterson: Until I was in third grade, if elementary schools had a day off but upper schools did not (hence both my parents worked while I was out of school) I would accompany my dad to a junior high school of about 300 enrolled, where he, the principal, and the secretary were the only office employees. I remember the hallways. I’d accompany kids on study hall (who thought I was so cute) to deliver notes from the office, sit on a stool and observe in shop class, eat lunch with a table of seventh grade girls (some of whom I knew well as they babysat me on the occasional Saturday night), and generally occupy this netherworld of young ruler.

I did not have nearly the status when I really was in junior high, unfortunately.

Tuck Pescosolido: I have fond memories of computers controlled by punch cards, a Pepsi machine that only charged 10 cents, and a warehouse filled with crates of motor oil.

Kate Geis: From my Mom, being allowed to help pass meal trays in the galley kitchen to her flight attendant colleagues on a Pan Am flight to Mexico (the world 20 years before 9/11). At 10-years-old being a flight attendant seemed really fun. And from my Dad, he was a USIA public affairs officer, which involved everything from overseeing a library to hosting authors like Susan Sontag. Consulates, government offices, have a particular sterile smell that I love but at the same time remind me of childhood boredom waiting for him to finish work so we could do something more fun.

Krista Brockwood: My dad—recently retired—was a teacher, so going to school was also going to work with him. I couldn’t cross my eyes without it getting back to him. I do remember that he would oversee Saturday School (think Breakfast Club but way more boring) and I’d go with him sometimes. I’d try and figure out what everyone did wrong to get there. Not surprisingly, I was a bit of a goodie-two-shoes…until I wasn’t.