Link love

In this week’s f- the police. More.  And also.

ugh

This week in frats.  not a frat, but another huge stupid mess

Stop stereotyping my children.

Ted Cruz and the quest for GOP Obama

No argument

Teaparty math.

Women at Work 100 years ago.

Newborns as the 4th trimester (may be review to those with children or knowledge of infancy)

crazy stuff about social security

The article isn’t great, but the comments section is hilarious.

free heyer stories

one tired gerbil

#1 prefers dancing kittens.

Ready for adoption

So true

Also true  (maybe)

so lazy

Congratulations to undine.

Congratulations to jliedl.

This just in:  Reader Sarah updates us on her ask the grumpies question

Google loving? (Well, that was the title before this post got bumped from Valentines day)

Q:  if i have medical and own a home can it be taken away

A:  If you don’t pay your mortgage, it is possible.  But talk to a lawyer and make sure you know the laws in your specific state.

Q:  i have a mortgage.and my electricty got.turned off will i loae my home

A:  Probably not, but make sure your home is not condemned.  Again, talk to a lawyer and make sure you know the laws in your specific state and your specific town.

Q:  what do you call a romantic person

A:  Mine.

Q:  should we deliberatelychoosing the most difficult road

A:  Depends in your personality type and what the benefits are for that difficult road (as in, are you getting anything out of the extra difficulty or is it just making things worse).

Q:  what most people miss about high school or wish they could go back and change

A:  These days, there’s almost nothing I miss.  Just a few things I would change but nothing major.  In general, it was intense and wonderful and horrible and difficult and life-changing and I am so, so ready to let it go.  There is a lot I do NOT miss!

Q:  mnemonic device music for dressage freestyle

A:  you mean like “All fat bay mares can hardly ever kick”?  Or you mean like memorizing the tests themselves?  Good luck with that, I wish I was better at it.  Did you mean memorizing what order your movements are in and timing them with the music?  You just have to practice, I’m pretty sure.  Any (human) dancers out there want to share tips for memorizing dance routines and how you do it?

Q:  if you dont pay upkeep to gardens can they take your house off you

A:  Depends on your state laws and your HOA.  In Texas, HOA have all sorts of crazy powers (according to an NPR thing a few years back), but it isn’t clear how much power they have in other states.  They can still take you through the courts most places.  Again, talk to a lawyer.

Q:  if i own a form that is fully paid for can the government take it for bankruptcy

A:  The government doesn’t take houses for bankruptcy, the bank does.  You may be thinking of eminent domain.

Q:  if someone pays off your mortage can they take your house

A:  wait, what?  Is “someone” the mortgage holder or is it someone else?  Like, if your parents pay off your mortgage for you, the title of the house goes to whoever it says on the paperwork (which is likely you, right?  What does your mortgage paperwork say?).

Q:  best marriage match for civil engineer

A:  Um… Not us?

Who made your lunch as a kid? (And who makes your kids’ lunches if applicable?)

When I was in second grade, my father made my lunch for me.  Because he was a European immigrant, I generally had a roll (my favorite were onion rolls), a hunk of cheese or sliced carrots and a piece of fruit, often an orange that he would score for me for easy peeling.  All in an old plastic bread-bag.  People made fun of me for not having a peanut butter and jelly or bologna sandwich.  They made fun of the scores on the orange.  They especially made fun of the plastic bag.  In third and fourth grade, my father had bouts of employment that took him away from the family for months at a time and I ended up mostly eating hot lunches at school.

In fifth grade, the teasing about every aspect of my life got worse and nobody ate hot lunch (possibly because they were more expensive).  It was time for me to start making my own lunch because my mother simply did not have time on top of everything else.  So each week she’d get me whatever I wanted at the grocery store that I could throw together (within reason– we couldn’t afford lunchables).  A standard lunch for me would be one of those neon orange soft cheese and cracker packets (store-brand handi-snacks), a bag of doritos, a juice box, and maybe a piece of fruit all in a nice brown lunch bag that we’d buy by the pack.

Possibly in seventh grade I started making more wholesome lunches because my father was back and no way were we wasting money on junk food with him around.  I also started making my sister’s lunch at the same time I made mine– sandwiches with two slices of bread and standard things in the middle, a piece of fruit, and maybe a homemade cookie (as I had learned to bake).  When I left for high school, I’m not sure if she started making her own or just got hot lunch.

Today we make our toddler’s lunch (alternating dinner from the night before in a metal thermos with random healthy stuff in a bento-box) and DC1 makes hir own lunch (usually a nut-butter/cookie-butter and jelly sandwich) and a bag of gummies.  We hope that DC2’s wheat allergy is gone before ze starts demanding nut butter and jelly sandwiches like DC2 did in preschool.

#2 says, I remember my mom making lunches for me when I was little, because I remember the little notes she’d write on the napkin.  Stuff like “Have a great day, [my nickname [ed guess: Pookie-pie] [nope] ]! XOXO Mom”.

When it came time for me to make my own lunches, I do remember using stuff like Lunchables (which had just come out and were nowhere near as fancy and varied as they are now).  I also made sandwiches– I have a certain opinion about making PBJ so that the jelly doesn’t soak the bread (put peanut butter on it first [#1 notes:  this is correct]) and the correct peanut butter (crunchy [also correct]).  Also, I ate a lot of cold cuts in sandwiches that I mostly made myself.  Lots of granola bars.  We were not allowed to have doritos or any bagged chips/crisps in our house, and no cookies either.  I remember having an insulated lunch bag.  I have no idea what my sister had for lunch, she’s so much younger than me.

This was all in, say, 4th or 5th grade through 9th grade.  In 4th-6th grade there were also some times where I went home for lunch, mostly with my one friend to her house, and ate whatever stuff they had there.  By 6th grade we were trusted to walk to her house, unlock it, eat, and get back to school on time by ourselves, but we didn’t do it every day, because it was a little bit far to walk in the time we had.  I think the Lunchables in the school lunchroom were 7th and 8th grade.  I never got a hot lunch at school, except for very occasional treats that were pizza days.  [#1 notes:  whoa, I completely forgot that in 4th grade I lived close enough to the school to walk home for lunch, which I would do on a pretty regular basis.  That probably isn’t allowed anymore unless a parent actually shows up at school to do the escorting.]

Tell us about your school lunches, Grumpeteers.  It brings back surprisingly detailed memories, just like Anne Lamott predicted in her book Bird by Bird.

RBOC

  • Did you know that some tape dispensers are filled with lots of really tiny grain sand?  (#2 has one like that.)  Guess who found out the hard way…
  • DC2 has started the dreaded “why” phase.
  • The true reason that people should not retire completely:  They start getting into stupid political debates on online forums and then they email their daughters demanding well-researched rebuttals that they can then use to make their points.  (This is also a good reason to refuse to take money from one’s parents after one has left the nest.)
  • The Prozac wore off.  :(  The kitten was fine and then one evening she spectacularly peed on most of the beds and (conveniently) the extra bedding for the bed she didn’t pee on.  It was great while it lasted.  We’re back to prozac… I hope it kicks in soon.  If not, she’s back to being locked up in the master bathroom.  Update:  The Prozac works.
  • I am always glad that I am not a minimalist when say, the cat pees on my winter coat and I still have my old winter coat to wear.  It may be shabby and have difficult t0 fix tears (because some of the fabric has shredded), but it is dry and doesn’t smell like cat pee.
  • The worst kind of service is the kind that you’re asked to do, then you do it and do it well and it takes time but you do a good and thorough job that you’re proud of and before the deadline, and then they completely ignore that you did any of it.  Or decide they didn’t actually want it.  Or they’ll just keep doing what they were always doing even though it’s bad and wrong and they asked you to figure out the right thing.
  • Note to self:  Stop bothering trying to comment on Modern Mrs. Darcy.  You are on her “bad” list and will always be in moderation for a full day no matter how innocuous your comment.  It isn’t worth it.
  • DC1 recently noted that the proportion of boys to girls on My Little Pony is about the same as the proportion of girls to boys in EVERYTHING ELSE (or specifically in The Lego Movie– I pointed out the everything else aspect).  But it took My Little Pony for hir to notice any gender disparity.  We’re just used to there only being one or two token girls in a world of boys.
  • I had forgotten that when we first met Vimes he was drunk.

Recessed lighting and energy efficiency

We had an energy audit done on our house (free from the utilities company!)

We thought he’d go around the house with a fancy heat gun checking for drafts or something, but he didn’t.  But no, first order problems don’t require any fancy equipment.

What were his main suggestions?

1.  Put a tent over the stairs to the attic on the attic-side in the air conditioned access part.  He was shocked that we have attic access from inside the house and not just from the garage.  This has turned out to be difficult because there’s an inconveniently placed pipe up near this access point in the attic.

2.  Do something about the old-fashioned recessed (bucket) lights.

3.  Get black screens for our sun-facing windows.  (These look pretty creepy from the outside, like the windows are painted black, but our HOA must allow them because all sorts of folks in our neighborhood now have them.)

The recessed lighting has a light in a can, basically.  The cans (from before 2004) have holes in them because if they don’t, then the lights get so hot that it’s a fire hazard.  Because of the holes, the hot attic air comes down into the house because of some sort of pressure convection thing.  When the air conditioner is on, it pressurizes the house which means it blows cold air up into the attic.  Not only that, but these lights are supposed to have no insulation within three inches so that things don’t get so hot that they catch on fire. When people do temperature readings, you can see where the recessed lights are.

Since then, they’ve made new models that don’t have holes that you can put insulation up against.  Also compact fluorescent lights and LED lights are not as hot as regular lights.

He said, we’d really like to seal off those holes.  Our choices:

A.  Switch out with the new cans.  They may not be air tight but it’s better than just the holes.  Just like any fixture, they have a light shape and maximum wattage.  Their maximum wattage is lower than the old-style cans, but that’s clear on the can.  With this option, you can also do B because the cans themselves are metal and still transfer heat into the house.

B.  Buy covers that are insulation tents that you can just drop over the cans.  These can be used with the old-fashioned hot bulbs, but you have to be sure to open vents within the covers for safety reasons.  But then there’s a hole again.  With the modern lights you don’t need to open the vent.

C.  Tape off the holes in the current cans.  You can only do this with the low-wattage bulbs.  The internet is full of horror stories about what a bad dangerous idea this is.  We have opted not to do this one.

We have 9 of these recessed lights.  DH switched out 7 for LED and 2 for compact fluorescent (we’d already swapped those out when the previous bulbs burned out).  Finding them in the attic was difficult– one of them was buried in insulation underneath the air conditioner and took 20 min to find.

DH is concerned that if we just do option B that at some point in time someone will put in a bulk that the fixture says is ok, keep the vents closed, and it will start a fire.  Who?  Maybe a tenant or someone who buys the house after us… something small probability but a scary one.  We could remove the tents prior to someone else living in our house, but we’d have to remember to do that.

So most likely we’ll go with option A and option B combined and have an electrician do it.  DH has been banned from home wiring projects after a mishap wiring a fan.  (This ban is ironic given his educational background and the other types of home improvement projects he has not been banned from.  But an alive husband is the most important thing.)

How much will that cost?  Well, the new LED lightbulbs cost ~$30 each, so ~$210 for that.  The new cans are ~$10/each, so ~$90.  The tents are ~$15/each on the direct webpage (the amazon link above is more pricey), so ~135.  We’re not sure how much an electrician will cost– that’s something we need to find out.  But this little project will most likely cost more than $500 total.  How long will that take to pay for itself in lower utility bills?  No idea!  But our summer energy bills are pretty awful, so it might be less time than we think.  If only we could also do something about the water bill.

Have you done an energy audit?  What do you do to keep your energy costs down?

Link Love

In this week’s f the police… Also in this week’s f the police… the kind of thing white women brag about doing on their facebook pages.

UGH

Lighten up.  (Holy fish, this is AMAZING, everyone go read it)

Why does nobody ever talk about the problem of white-on-white violence in this country?

#rapalbumsthatcausedslavery

Birth control costs

More vaccine stuff.

religious freedom bill ditched after amendment is added to prevent gay couples being humiliated

Ick.

When worlds collide.

An excellent personal ad.

I like leeks.

generate your own bogus job description. You are a growth hacker who uses wide approximation to create creative strategy of championing in clean energy.

no punctuation

Donna Freedman launches “How to write a blog people will read

when good enough is good enough

If you like Hark a Vagrant, this has more.

Leaving academia for large corporations (wonder what ended up happening…)

I want the less/fewer one.  (Not for the cost of shipping and stuff, but, you know…)

I didn’t find what I was looking for, but this is a great group of images.

Ask the grumpies: minimum wage

Mutant Supermodel asks:

what do economists think about raising the minimum wage? Is there a general consensus either way or is it as mixed up as it is on my Facebook feed?

#1 is not the economist but I’ll say that I support it right now, within reason.  What does #2 say?

Ok, the short of it is:  Economists are still divided on the topic of whether or not, and at what point, raising minimum wages decreases jobs or job growth.

Basic econ 101 theory says that if you raise the minimum wage, creating a wage floor, in a perfectly competitive market, then employment will go down because all the people who would have gotten jobs at lower wages will no longer get jobs.  (This is usually taught in the same chapter as why rent control is bad.)

That’s basic economic theory in a perfectly competitive market.  Market intervention hurts jobs.

HOWEVER, we don’t live in a textbook world.  So this is an empirical question.  And there are literally hundreds of papers exploring the effect of minimum wage increases in a non-experimental framework.  They find mixed results based on functional form.

The first major natural experiment on this topic is one by David Card and Alan Kruger.  They look at the effect of a minimum wage increase on employment of fast food workers at border counties in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  They find that employment doesn’t change or actually *increases* in the state where the minimum wage goes up.  It doesn’t seem to be decreasing employment at all.

There are a number of potential explanations.  One that I’ve always liked (for its simplicity), but many prominent economists don’t share my like of is the thought that these fast food markets have monopsony power– which is like monopoly power, but what you have when you’re the only employer (or one of the only employers).  When employers have this kind of labor market power, they can keep wages artificially low because they can say either you work for us or you get nothing, because there’s no competitor to say you can work for me and I’ll give you a penny more (thus bidding up wages).  (You don’t need just one employer for there to be some monopsony power– just a small number of employers if they’re willing to collude, or for there to be other frictions in the labor market.)  When this happens, increasing the minimum wage would just reduce profits but wouldn’t negatively affect employment.

David Neumark is the big anti-Card and Kruger guy.  His work with coauthors argues that Card and Kruger’s survey data are inaccurate and that employment goes down based on administrative data.  Card and Kruger disagree.  There was some back and forth.  Cambridge-school economists tend to believe Card and Kruger.  Chicago-school economists tend to believe Neumark and Wascher.

More recently there’s been some work that reconciles all of the findings, suggesting that minimum wage increases don’t actually have a lot of effect in the short run.  People don’t get fired because the minimum wage increases, because firing people is bad for company morale (among other things).  HOWEVER, this newer work suggests that the minimum wage does depress job growth in the long-run.  As people leave (as they often do in minimum wage jobs), they’re not replaced  one-for-one.  There may also be an effect on overall growth by industry (with firms that can only afford minimum wage workers shrinking or going out of business), which would further disguise any negative effect on employment.

What’s the bottom-line?  Economists don’t know.  Most, if not all, economists will agree that there’s some point at which the minimum wage really does decrease employment rates.  (If minimum wage were $100/hr, most of us would stop sending our kids to daycare and fast food workers would be replaced entirely by machines.)  Many economists will also point out that, historically, real minimum wages have been much higher, particularly at times of economic growth (correlation not being causation, but slyly winking and nudging that direction), and some will even note that we’re subsidizing companies that don’t offer a minimum wage with foodstamps and other benefits.  Without those government subsidies, companies might be forced to offer living wages.

Personally, I think the minimum wage should be raised right now.  However, I’m not sure that it should be raised as much as some people are suggesting, particularly in some parts of the country where living costs tend to be lower.  (Just as a sniff test, I’m willing to hire people at $10/hr for standard minimum wage jobs that I’m not willing to hire at $12.50/hr– I’ll just do it myself at that price unless I already know the person is exceptionally competent.)  And then there’s all those exceptions to think about… should teenage wages be lower (and what does that do to adult unemployment?)?  Waitstaff positions?  And so on.  It’s a very complicated question full of many moving parts, and if economists can’t even agree on the direction, it’s hard to know what the magnitude is!

 

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