The Reply-All Button Ruins Lives

I like to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume that in 2012 everyone who has an email address understands the difference between a “reply-all” button and a “reply” button. Unfortunately, I am discovering this is not the case and, as such, feel it is my moral duty to inform you all that reply-all can ruin your life (and annoy the snot out of me) when used incorrectly.

So, what’s the difference?

Reply: Sends an email response to the original sender of the email.

Reply-All: Sends an email response to all 28 people who received the initial e-mail.

And what’s the problem?

Let me set up a scenario for you:

Jim sends an email to the whole company, including me, your aggravating, lunch-stealing, once-a-week showering boss, discussing all the nitty-gritty details of the meeting I’m holding Friday that will likely cut into your lunch time. He explains that we won’t be having lunch during the meeting due to recent budget cuts around the office.

You, my frustrated, overworked, underpaid, reasonable employee decide you’ll respond with a complaint to your mutually disgruntled friend, Jim, about said meeting and me, your horrible boss.

You Reply:  Message goes to Jim. Jim laughs. Jim responds. Your worries and annoyances are aired. You feel better to have vented.

You Reply-All: Message goes to Jim…and 14 other people you work with, including me, your smelly boss. You feel better to have vented. You lose your job. You are unemployed. Your dog starves to death, because you can’t afford food for him.


The Reply-All Button Ruins Lives…and threatens the lives of animals…particularly when used inappropriately. It would beheave you to take note of this Public Service Announcement. Thank you for your time.

Stop! Or I’ll…Dump Water On Your Head

A psychiatrist I was working with was recently talking to some families about the importance of following through with so-called “parenting-threats” you make to a child. As I listened in I thought how difficult it must be to consistently do that, especially if following through with the consequence adds an element of stress or difficulty to your situation. A quick interrogation of the Google machine turned up hundreds, if not thousands, of relevant blog posts and articles to confirm my suspicions that this was no easy feat.

Be Careful What You Say

Today I was considering that conversation and came to the conclusion that if anyone in my marriage would eventually have trouble with this, it would be my laid back and quiet husband, not me (because I’m so perfect and all). I’m the type of person who tends to be more over-bearing, outspoken and “in charge” (typically only in my own mind am I honestly in control of anything).

He’s the type of person that doesn’t say a whole lot. But, that means when he does decide to talk – you listen – because it’s either hilarious, important or absolutely ingenius (or occasionally borderline insane).

I remembered an incident from when we first started dating and realized my assessment of which of us was better at following through was apparently starkly inaccurate.


  It was Spring of 2007, we’d known each other less than a year and were cooking dinner at his house one evening. I was in an ornery mood and doing something that I’m sure was purposefully annoying and painfully asinine in the name of flirting.

As I tapped and poked him in the ribs over and over, not unlike a four year old I watched in clinic trying to provoke a reaction out of his mother, Donnie said to me,


“If you do that again I will pour this entire bottle of water on your head.”


I thought,

“There is no way he will do that. We’re in his kitchen and it would make a huge mess and it would probably make me mad. I’m his new girlfriend…nobody wants their new girlfriend mad. He totally wouldn’t do that.

So…I poked him again…right in the ribs. And…

He poured bottled water over my head…right there in the middle of his kitchen.


Right there in front of God and everyone (and by everyone I mean Aubrey, his Zambian roommate who ended up as the best man in our wedding) my boyfriend dumped 12 ounces of bottled water onto my freshly-straightened hair and stared at me with an I-warned-you-you-dummy look on his face as spring water some kid in the Andes meticulously bottled by hand (what, you mean your water doesn’t come hand-bottled from the mountains? weak sauce.) dripped down my previously dry t-shirt, rolled down my legs and splatted onto the tile floor of his rent-house.

As I stood, soaking wet, in a puddle in the middle of his kitchen I never thought that incident would come back to me in 6 years as an indicator of how trustworthy he is.


And, I can tell you one thing, now when he tells me…

“Stop or I’ll…”

…I stop.




It may seem silly or trivial, but it’s true – when people follow through on their word, even on things that are seemingly pointless (or even mean! like dumping water on your girlfriends freshly straightened hair), it builds trust.

Do you have trouble following through? Do you think this is an important aspect of gaining trust in relationships? Parents, how hard is it to consistently follow through with your kids?

Image: photostock /

Image: Paul |

Always Zip Your Backpack Pockets…

or risk losing your favorite study snacks to a vicious predator with long hair, big eyes and a wet nose that is apparently ridiculously good at it’s sniffing job.

Do I look sweet & innocent? Good, that’s what I’m going for…
I’ve often discussed the fact that I own dogs who could, if canine-psychiatry was a real life field, likely earn themselves a diagnosis of Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Generally, when I’m talking about my dogs thieving things it’s in reference to our Red Heeler procuring balls and other toys from the neighbors’ yards using her superhero-like skills to scale our 6-ft wooden picket fence…

but not this time.

In addition to supplying us with uncharacteristically good food, the hospital cafeteria attached to my medical school conveniently stocks little packages of peanut butter to put on toast and bagels. Occasionally when I eat there I will have a random package of peanut butter left over and I have taken to throwing them in my backpack with some saltines for a high-protein snack during study hours.

At home our office is the first stop from the back door after you make it through the laundry room and as such my 480 lb. backpack generally ends up living in the most convenient place to drop it when I come in from a long day of studying – on the floor by my desk.

I had been studying at home one day and, being the irresponsible dog-owner that I am, was paying more attention to charts on renal function than I was to Wrigley, my youngest “child,” and the un-zipped backpack sitting right next to me. A little bit later I walked into our bedroom and noticed shredded white paper all over the floor. At first glance I had no idea what it was and, since this dog’s favorite past time seems to be destroying paper towels and dryer sheets, I ignored it under the assumption he’d been dumpster diving again. Then…I smelled peanuts…and noticed this laying on his bed:

I walked back into the office to find a furry white body hanging out of my backpack, the head presumably attached to the front end of said body completely submerged in the front pocket of my backpack searching for a second peanut-buttery treat for the day:

I guess he knew I was about to steal away his tasty treat, so when he noticed me taking pictures he took off running. I tracked the deviant creature down in the kitchen and, naturally, snapped a couple more pictures before snatching away the prize he was so obviously proud of. 

Look Mom! It’s delicious, you should try it…
Not to worry, I was so proud of the little dude’s first cranial nerve and the fact that he had tracked down peanut butter at the bottom of my backpack and formulated a way to rip through the plastic packaging to eat all of it without me knowing, that I opened the package and let him and his sisters chow down. 

What can I say? I’m a bit of a pushover.

And the moral of the story is…
peanut butter is irresistible, zip your backpack pockets.