SmartBrief Originals
Sept. 24, 2020:
The many roles of big data in HR
July 9, 2020:
The HR technology trends that are defining 2020
May 20, 2020:
College grads: Navigating the job market during coronavirus
April 8, 2020:
How the coronavirus pandemic is affecting job searching
March 9, 2020:
FAQ: Human resources and mental health accommodations 

While You Were Working SmartBrief

Oct. 21, 2021:
Joc rocked the pearls on the baseball diamond

Why it matters: When I think of people known for wearing pearl necklaces, I think of Lisa SimpsonVice President Kamala Harris and former first lady Barbara Bush. However, Atlanta Braves outfielder Joc Pederson is showing that men belong on that list too. His stylish choice of jewelry has become so popular that Braves fans — men and women — are copying it when they go to games. Pederson says he started wearing pearls just because he liked the way they looked. I say more power to him — although I hope his necklace doesn’t give the Braves an edge over the Los Angeles Dodgers in tonight’s Game 5 of the National League Championship Series. — Cathy

Oct. 20, 2021:
“Dune” fans and theaters hoped for a desert blockbuster

Why it matters: I’m almost done rereading Frank Herbert’s 1965 science fiction classic “Dune” in anticipation of the latest movie version, which will officially be released Friday (although you can also catch it Thursday night at some theaters and on HBO Max). My fellow fans are curious as to how good it will be and how it will convey the book’s intricate plot, while the movie theater industry hopes it will lead to a blockbuster series that attracts crowds. (The film is said to only focus on the first half of the book, leaving room for a potential sequel.) I haven’t seen the maligned 1984 adaptation, so I don’t have any reference for comparison, but if Timothee Chalamet is as good in the new “Dune” as he’s been in other movies, I think it’ll be worth buying a big-screen ticket. — Cathy

Aug. 27, 2021:
WYWW’s “Jeopardy!” champion had an idea for the show

As a lifelong “Jeopardy!” fan and two-day winner on the show, I’ve been rather sad about the turn of events involving now-ousted host (but somehow still executive producer) Mike Richards. I agree with those who say Sony Pictures Entertainment bungled the search for the late Alex Trebek’s replacement as host — personally, I would’ve gone with Buzzy Cohen, with Aaron Rodgers as my second choice. (Sorry, LeVar Burton fans, but I didn’t think he was as good during his guest stint). The Wall Street Journal reports that many longtime “Jeopardy!” employees don’t like Richards, so even though he’s undergoing sensitivity training and will be closely supervised, he may need to leave altogether if the show wants to remain successful. I agree with former contestant Kareem Abdul-Jabbar that “Jeopardy!” is a crucial platform for celebrating the importance of facts and knowledge, and I think the show needs to move fast to avoid any more reputational damage. I’m OK with Mayim Bialik hosting for now, but why not give CNN legal analyst Laura Coates or Los Angeles Kings play-by-play announcer Alex Faust, who Trebek mentioned as possible replacements, a shot at hosting? That could go a long way toward restoring viewers’ confidence — and maybe it could help save the show I’ve loved for so long. — Cathy Guiles (WYWW “Jeopardy!” expert and two-day winner)

Aug. 11, 2021:
It took 2 people to replace Alex Trebek

After watching the long line of “Jeopardy!” guest hosts over the past several months, I favored Buzzy Cohen, the 2017 Tournament of Champions winner. I thought he did a great job of handling both serious and funny moments, and his familiarity with the show was a big plus. However, the powers that be have gone with a different choice to replace the late Alex Trebek on the daily syndicated series: executive producer Mike Richards. Mayim Bialik, who was a guest host along with Richards, will host special prime-time episodes and spinoffs. Richards has faced allegations of harassment and discrimination, which he denies, and many “Jeopardy!” fans and former contestants weren’t thrilled that he might get the job. But if the ratings tank with Richards at the helm, maybe someone else will get a shot — or maybe Bialik will get the gig full-time. Either way, at least they didn’t go with Dr. Oz. — Cathy (the WYWW “Jeopardy!” expert)

Nov. 9, 2020:
Alex Trebek left a legacy of caring, humor and smarts

Why it matters: I spent a big chunk of this past weekend reading questions and keeping score for academic tournaments for middle and high school students (held online this year because of the pandemic). I got the gig through a fellow “Jeopardy!” champion, just one example of how being on the show eight years ago changed my life. Alex Trebek was at the center of the experience, holding court while helping us contestants feel comfortable and less nervous. Over the course of my three games, I found him to be very engaging and encouraging.

However, when I read his book this past summer, I fully realized what a genuinely caring person he was, as evidenced by his extensive USO tours and global humanitarian work with World Vision. Now that he’s died, it’s hard to imagine “Jeopardy!” without him. Still, I’m sure the show will continue to be a quality undertaking that reminds us of the importance of knowledge, truth and facts while having a lot of fun — and even helping people learn English — in the process. The kids in the tournaments I worked at will never get to be on “Jeopardy!” with Alex, but they’re already continuing his legacy in their own way. — Cathy (the WYWW “Jeopardy!” expert)

March 24, 2020:
WYWW Shining Moments: This Phelps fan remembers a big win from 2008

Jan. 15, 2020:

Ken Jennings proved the WYWW “Jeopardy!” expert wrong

Why it matters: My prediction last week that James Holzhauer would win the “Jeopardy!” Greatest of All Time tournament didn’t come true last night, as Ken Jennings took the title in dramatic fashion. The match was up for grabs going into Final Jeopardy, which was about Shakespearean tragedies, and Ken shocked me by betting zero (although he didn’t shock me by getting the right answer of “Who is Iago?” — his wide range of knowledge throughout the game was incredible). James bet everything, as he tends to do, but he guessed wrong — “Who is Horatio?” — so he and third competitor Brad Rutter went home with $250,000 each, while Ken got $1 million. All in all, I think the tournament was great television — and it wound up being a great tribute to host Alex Trebek as well. — Cathy 
Jan. 14, 2020:
Ken Jennings may be named the best “Jeopardy!” player ever tonight
Why it matters: The “Jeopardy!” Greatest of All Time tournament has been leading in the ratings and sparking conversation this past week — but it could come to an end tonight, if Ken Jennings wins his third match. I’ve loved having an extra hour of “Jeopardy!” almost every day, but I’m surprised that Brad Rutter hasn’t fared better so far. If he or James Holzhauer, who’s won one match, wins tonight (starting at 8 p.m. Eastern on ABC), the tournament will continue tomorrow. And if you’ve been inspired to try out for the show, sign up for the online test later this month. — Cathy (the WYWW “Jeopardy!” expert)
Jan. 7, 2020:
“Jeopardy!” got ready to decide its best player ever
Why it matters: “Jeopardy!” has held many mega-tournaments during its 36 years on the air, but starting tonight, it’s aiming to find its greatest player of all time. The three contestants are Ken Jennings, who won 74 consecutive games; Brad Rutter, who’s won the most money of any contestant; and James Holzhauer, who dominated this past “Jeopardy!” season and won its Tournament of Champions. Personally, I think James will win, given that he’s the youngest and has played the most recently. However, Brad has beaten Ken in almost all their previous matchups (a notable exception is the 2011 tournament that was won by IBM’s Watson computer), so maybe he’ll come through again this time. Above all, I hope the competition is fun for host Alex Trebek as he thinks about the end of his tenure. — Cathy (the WYWW “Jeopardy!” expert)
June 4, 2019:
“Jeopardy!” James’ streak is over, thanks to a gutsy challenger
As WYWW’s resident “Jeopardy!” expert, I can attest to the impressiveness of James Holzhauer’s 32-game winning streak, which ended Monday night. Winning just one game, let alone two like I did in 2012, is hard enough, but to have the stamina to make it to 32 and break records along the way is astounding. What’s really noteworthy is that James won just about as much money as record-holder Ken Jennings — $2.46 million vs. $2.52 million — but did it in less than half as many games — 32 vs. 74 — by making supersize wagers and zeroing in on Daily Doubles and higher-value clues. (James’ small Final Jeopardy wager of $1,399 on Monday made perfect sense, however, as he was trying to lock out challenger Jay Sexton, who finished in third place.) For me, James’ games were less exciting to watch because I always figured he’d win, but I appreciate how he’s gotten people of all ages talking about “Jeopardy!” and helped boost its ratings. Hats off also to Emma Boettcher, who beat him in impressive fashion, finishing with $46,801. James’ challengers often adopted his unorthodox approach, and I’m interested to see whether future contestants will keep doing that — and what James will do for an encore. — Cathy
The Arlington (Va.) Connection
Aug. 29, 2018:
Backpacks with a blessing
By Catherine Guiles
When some children in Arlington go back to school next month, they’ll bring more than notebooks and pencils. Their backpacks will have special tags attached, courtesy of churches that gave the backpacks — and the students wearing them — a blessing for the new year.
“We thought it would be a fitting start to the school year for people to carry their faith into their daily life,” said the Rev. Ann Barker, rector at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Glencarlyn. Her congregation is holding its Blessing of the Backpacks on Sept. 9.
Besides giving children — and interested adults — pocket crosses and tags saying “This backpack has been blessed by a congregation that loves and supports this student,” St. John’s will have parishioners say a special prayer.
It’s “a request for God to bless their time in school and to bless the use of their resources and [for students] to behave in a faithful manner at school — be attentive,” Barker said.
Backpack blessings have been around for several years but are a new ritual for some Arlington churches. Cherrydale United Methodist Church and St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Westover are holding their first ones on Sept. 2 and Sept. 9, respectively.
“It’s something I’ve done at other churches in the past where I’ve served,” said the Rev. Beth Magill, rector at St. Michael’s. “It’s an opportunity to invite children to expand their imagination of their faith beyond the walls of the church.”
The church will give out tags reading “Blessed to be a Blessing.”
“We’ll talk about what it means to give blessings and receive blessings,” Magill said.
A backpack blessing can also reassure children, said the Rev. Elizabeth Foss, pastor of Cherrydale United Methodist.
“We have a number of children who are worried about going to school,” she said. The tags, which say “Blessed are you” and quote Matthew 5:12 (“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven”), along with congregational prayers, will let them know that “our church community supports them” and be “a reminder of God’s promises.”
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Cherrydale held one blessing at its service Aug. 26 for the 29 backpacks it collected for the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing and will hold another for the congregation Sept. 9.
Parishioner Anne Dailey, who helped coordinate the collection, said the message on the tags, “God’s Got Your Back,” complemented a Scripture reading at the service from Ephesians 6, which instructs Christians to “put on the whole armor of God.”
“The blessing of the backpacks and the tags, that’s kind of your ‘armor’ to get you through the school year,” she said.
Dailey hopes the children served by APAH like the tags, which will be in the backpack pockets. “It’s their choice as to whether they want to put it on,” she said.
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in the Old Dominion neighborhood also donated 25-
30 backpacks and tags to APAH, with a message from Joshua 1:9: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
It will give out roughly 170 tags at services Sept. 9, said the Rev. Amy Slater, senior associate to the rector.
“People like something tangible,” Slater said. It’s “particularly important for kids — they can look at it if they’re having a bad day.”
All the pastors said people who don’t normally attend their churches are welcome to come for the backpack blessings — and they hope children ultimately get a message of love.
“I’m hoping they can become more fully who God created them to be,” Magill said.
The Englewood Review of Books
Dec. 28, 2018:
Oct. 18, 2017:
Religion News Service
Feb. 24, 2017: