My Neighbor’s Yard is an Eyesore!

Do you find yourself thinking these thoughts? She has weeds growing three feet high – it makes the whole neighborhood look trashy, and the weeds spread into my yard! He has two junk cars rusting in the yard, but he says they are “classics” he’s going to restore. They have broken toys and garbage all over the place, and they never clean it up.  I think there are rats over there! These are some of the most common neighbor complaints JCMS hears.  If you take the time to keep your home looking nice, it can be upsetting to have a neighbor who doesn’t. There are many reasons people don’t keep up their yards.  Sometimes older people or those with health issues have trouble doing yard work.  A single parent may be overwhelmed just keeping the household running.  One person’s treasure is another person’s trash.  Maybe your neighbor just doesn’t think the appearance of the yard is very important. If you are comfortable doing so, you can talk (politely and respectfully) to your neighbor.  Maybe he/she isn’t aware that the old cars bother you.  You could provide the name of your yard care people.  Perhaps you could even offer a little bit of help with cleanup or mowing. You might be planning to put your house on the market, and you could mention courteously that you can get a better price if the neighborhood looks nice.  People are sensitive about what they perceive as criticism, so be prepared to stay calm.  If your neighbor takes offense at what you say, back off – don’t let the situation get out of...

Do Neighborhood Animal Odors Drive you Inside?

Jefferson County is home to many animals, including pets and livestock, especially since Jefferson County decided to allow backyard chickens and dwarf goats.  All these animals, particularly in urban areas, can cause conflicts. People tell JCMS: My neighbors have horses, and pile their manure at the fence right next to my house – it stinks, and it draws flies! There are 3 dogs next door, and the owner never cleans up after them – it’s a health hazard and it smells really bad. He keeps goats and chickens, and the odor can be overwhelming when it’s warm outside! It’s not that I don’t like animals – I do, but what can I do about the smell? Unpleasant odors can become very strong once the weather heats up, and piles of livestock manure and dog poop can be unhealthy, unsightly and offensive.  Some people complain about the disagreeable aromas.  While keeping the animals may be legal, many people don’t want the resulting scent drifting into their space. If you are comfortable doing so, you can talk (politely and respectfully) to your neighbor.  Maybe he/she isn’t aware that the odors are drifting your way.  Some people may not react well to statements that their animals are causing a problem.  If you are concerned about your neighbor’s reaction, you could try leaving a polite note for them, stating your concerns.  If your neighbor takes offense at what you say, back off – don’t escalate the situation. If a calm conversation doesn’t work, most municipalities have nuisance laws and code enforcement departments, and neighborhoods with homeowners’ associations have their own regulations.  You can...

Political Conversations: Civility and Appropriateness

From now until Election Day in November, we will all be bombarded with news and talk about the various candidates and issues.  Some people are very intense in their convictions, and it can be difficult to know how to respond when they speak up, or to know what is appropriate to bring up.  As the old saying goes, if you want to avoid offending others, you shouldn’t discuss religion, politics or money. It is our constitutional right in this country to argue issues publicly and try to raise support for our viewpoints.  Debate and criticism can help us to affirm or reevaluate our own positions, and can bring about positive change.  Just remember that people can get upset when you challenge their opinions, and be sure to communicate your ideas respectfully. So, when and where is it probably okay to talk about political candidates and issues? With friends, it is fine to speak up, and you can have some stimulating discussions, but be prepared to change the subject if things get unpleasant. Talking at home with your family is pretty safe, unless your opinions are very different. Remarks to your boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s parents could cause other problems. At your workplace, don’t do it – you aren’t being paid to argue politics, and it could hurt you professionally or harm working relationships. At special occasions, such as holidays, weddings or reunions, it’s better to avoid politics – people want happy memories of these times. On social media, be very careful – people may not want your opinions posted on their pages, and they may not want to wade through all that...

What Can I Do about a Bad Job Review?

Have you heard this from a friend, or lived through it yourself? “My supervisor gave me a negative performance review, and I don’t know what to do.  I thought I was doing well, but now I’m afraid of losing my job.  Is it truly that my performance is poor, or is it really a personal problem between us?” The first reaction to a bad review will usually be fear, along with anger or resentment.  Ask for a little time to absorb the feedback – don’t do anything until you have had time to think it through, and consider talking with friends or family who will be honest with you and not just take your side.  Negative feedback can be a huge opportunity to grow, and turning this into a challenge will show your supervisor that you are committed to improving. One great thing to do is to write down what you are thinking.  Writing helps you to organize your thoughts, so you get a clear picture of what’s going on. An important step is to try to see yourself from your supervisor’s perspective.  Be honest with yourself.  Do you get things done behind schedule?  Is your work sometimes inaccurate?  Do you often arrive late to work?  Do you clash with co-workers?  It helps a lot if you can understand what is making your supervisor dissatisfied.  Be realistic about where you need to make improvements. Once you have calmed down and taken a good look at yourself, ask to talk to your supervisor.  Don’t argue with the feedback – that won’t help.  If you don’t understand what you were told...

Tips to Avoid Problems with Car Repairs

It’s the time of year when cars won’t start, heaters don’t work, or you slide on the ice and your car has body damage.  It will help you to get good repairs if you educate yourself. Do some comparison shopping. Find a shop that has a good track record.  Read online reviews, and ask friends for recommendations.  If you need auto body repair, look at completed paint jobs coming out of the shop and see if the shop looks reasonably clean – a dusty shop equals a dusty paint job.  Make sure they offer at least a one-year warranty on parts and labor.  Your first line of defense is finding a quality repair facility.  Rely on your instincts – if the people seem shady, don’t go there. Get several estimates, and read each estimate carefully to see if all of them list the same repairs and if you think they cover everything that’s needed. If they are different, ask the shop(s) to explain.  If they can’t or won’t do that, go elsewhere.  Remember that going with the lowball estimate can result in a lowball job. If possible, remove valuables from the car before you leave it at a shop or have it towed. Give the shop a list of anything special in or on the car, such as alloy wheels, racing mirrors, upgraded stereo, or aftermarket products, such as remote starters. Make sure that any special equipment is still in or on the car when the work is completed. Finally, when you go to pick up the car, check it as carefully as possible to be sure that all...