Service

If you don’t value your time, nobody else will value it either.

I think the goal with service is to do just enough and no more than that.  The goal is to do something visible, something that will help you professionally, and most importantly, something that has a set goal and a set ending date.

I like: admissions, scholarships, organizing speaker series, etc.

I avoid like the plague: faculty senate, women’s faculty group, diversity committees, etc.

Hm… I notice that some of these time-sucks are things that are supposed to help women and minorities.  Ironic.  I blame the patriarchy.

How to get out of unwanted service?  Volunteer for wanted service ASAP and use that service as an excuse to not possibly have time for other types of service.  For example, an untenured professor is only supposed to be on one school-wide committee.  I begged onto the university scholarship committee.  I said that it will help my work on the admissions committee and will help us to build a good student body.  Now when I am asked (again) about the women’s faculty group, I will say, Oh, I’m sorry, I’m already on a university-wide committee and my mentors say that as an untentured professor I shouldn’t take any more time away from my research by being on more than one outside committee.

#2 says: I agree with you.  However, this tactic works much less well when you don’t have enough faculty to do everything that needs to be done.  I do more service than I would like, but I still say no a lot.  Small departments make this hard.  My senior colleagues want to protect my time, but stuff has to get done, somebody has to do it, and they value my input.  Oh well.  At least they are nice!

#1:  No, I definitely agree that we need to do some service.  But we don’t need to do MORE than our fair share (even if we’re missing that essential get-out-of-work free Y chromosome, IBTP) , and we certainly don’t need to be on committees that meet all the time and never produce anything but whining.  I love my department because we don’t have very much of the not producing anything committees (even the curriculum committee doesn’t meet without an end-goal in advance) and our chair has allowed a lot of administrative things to be outsourced to professional administrators (aka highly qualified administrative assistants), which hasn’t resulted from any complaints from me!

Guilt in parenting: IBTP

One of my pet peeves is books (and people) that make new mothers feel guilty.  I don’t care if they’re the sleep training books or the natural parenting books.  They all have one motive:  selling books to unsure new mothers. I Blame The Patriarchy.

Seriously.  There are a zillion ways to raise a child.  The different ways of raising may turn out different children, but different is not bad.

You’re not going to fail your child if you don’t follow some stupid book to the letter.  Most of these books are steeped in Western cultural influence from only the last 200 years or so.  Babies were brought up differently (and are brought up differently all over the world) before many of these ideas were invented.

I am hardcore AP.  That does not mean I follow Dr. Sears to the letter or don’t roll my eyes when he admonishes working mothers for not being attached to their babies.  That means I trust my instincts.  I take what I want from the parenting techniques I see, and, on occasion read about, and I don’t try to force something if it isn’t working.  It amazed me how my newborn’s cry sent me into a tizzy, but my toddler’s cry was just mildly annoying.  There’s an evolutionary reason for that.  My child no longer needed to be picked up right away when I didn’t feel the need to pick him up right away.  The mother-child dyad really does exist.

A related pet peeve is when people insist the the most difficult route is the one that must be taken at any point in time.  That CIO is hard, but if you fail to plug your ears and do it you’re failing your child and (s)he’ll never sleep on his or her own.  Or if you cosleep, (s)he’ll be in your bed until high school (or conversely, if you’re not attached to your baby 24-7 (s)he’ll develop an attachment disorder).  We were the laziest parents on the face of the planet.  We ALWAYS took the easiest route for us with every parenting decision, from sleeping to eating to discipline to potty training and whatever else we were doing.  And our sweet well-behaved child puts himself to sleep, eats reasonably well (we’re still working on a large category of green foods, but Hungry Monkey has convinced me that these will come with time) and is generally practically perfect in every way.  So are many of his classmates whose parents chose different paths.


Book recommendation:  Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent.  After reading this one, I got rid of all the other ones (well, not the Sears Baby Book— we still needed that for middle of the night fevers so we’d know if we needed to call a doctor).  It’s a fantastically well-researched book that explains the anthropology, history, and other science behind baby rearing through time.  It was wonderfully comforting– scientific proof for me to trust my instincts and do what was right for our family at this point of time in our cultural setting.  Since there were many ways to do something, chances are I wasn’t screwing up too badly.

And looking at our child, I think we did ok.

What’s your cooking system?

We’ve already gotten a peek into #1’s cooking system.  (#1 says: I’m supposed to have a system?)  What if you’re cooking for multiple people?

Over my life I’ve had several cooking “systems.”  Sometimes my goals are to save money and sometimes my goals are to save time.  Or both!  Some require advance organization and some are good for playing it by ear.

Grocery Flyer system

This method is for saving money, not time.  Each week, the grocery flyer comes in and shows what its loss leaders for the week are.  Note the especially good deals and plan menus for the week around them.  If there’s a huge sale on roasts, then think “Roast” or “beef stew” followed by roast beef sandwiches etc.  Stock up on baking supplies around holidays.

trader-joes-fearless-flyer

(Sidenote:  #1 put that Fearless Flyer pic in there.  I weep for the lack of TJ’s.  Weep.  Plus Trader Joe’s doesn’t really have sales…)

Pantry system

I always have this system on tap in case another system breaks down.  A well-stocked pantry is dreamy because you can make old standards at the drop of a hat.  I always have the ingredients for spaghetti, bean chili, tomato soup (and grilled cheese sandwiches), lots of rice/quinoa dishes, and so on.  My pantry is full of cans of tomatoes, beans, and grains, and I always have eggs, milk, onions, carrots, and usually celery on hand.  These, along with sauces and mixed frozen veggies, fruit, and/or nuts, can be turned into any number of meals, especially with chicken and bacon in the freezer.  I used to also keep potatoes, but they don’t work well with my metabolism so that’s out (sweet potatoes aren’t as versatile)… no more occasional fry-ups.  When something is used up, a new one is bought to replace it.  If there’s a sale, we stock up.  This saves time and can save money, but can get boring if you’re not feeling especially creative.  (In the summer, creative juices are flowing… not so much during the school year.)

Also, if you overspend one month, you can make up for it by eating off your pantry the next month.

CSA system


This is a healthy eating system.  When the CSA comes, you look at what they brought you and try to plan meals around the bounty.  There is often a lot of cooking and freezing for later involved.  The Victory Garden Cookbook is a big help.  We’re on a break from this because if I see another turnip or mustard green I will … eject my stomach contents.

The menu system

This method requires advance planning, but saves time trying to figure out what to make (and money if you’re likely to give up and just order pizza if you can’t think of anything).  One day a week, we go through cookbooks together and pick things out.  Generally we pick out 4-5 dishes from a Kevin and Nancy Mills book like Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen or Faster! I’m Starving! and one or two weekend dishes from Cook’s Illustrated or one of my old no-longer-in-print books that will take more time and make lots of leftovers.

On one used envelope goes the list of dishes and where the recipes are.  On another is the grocery list with all the ingredients needed.  During the week when we get home we pick one of the Help! recipes off the list, knowing it will take less than 20 min to make and that we have all the ingredients.

When we started out we used the grocery flyer system combined with the pantry system.  When we got real jobs for the first time, it was mainly just the pantry system combined with a lot of eating out because we didn’t have time to cook.  When we had a kid we suddenly didn’t have time to eat out and we moved to the menu system… though a concern for healthy eating had us join a CSA for a couple of years.  Now we’re back to menu + pantry.  I’ve been being good and have cooked some double batch casseroles to freeze for when the school starts again.  Man I love food.

What do you think?

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Link Love (last one before classes start!)

This one is also a little light on the personal finance.  I think the pf bloggers are on vacation while the academic bloggers are doing deep soul searching ‘cuz the school year is about to start.  Or at least they’re sitting at their computers procrastinating while doing class prep and finishing up those articles that need to go out ASAP (maybe that’s just us…).

Historiann on mandatory retirement (with the Isley Brothers)

Reading historical novels for work: not as cool as it sounds

Profacero (Z) with a list that speaks to me, and for a lot of academics I think.  (And I want Z to comment more on our blog!)  Let us celebrate our successes and learn from others’ successes and never feel guilty for being awesome.  I think Z’s future is bright and I look forward to the upward climb into freedom.

Step away from the mall has an ethical question about how many free coupons he can use… if the coupon doesn’t say, “limit one coupon per customer…”  I don’t know the answer.

Everyday tips estimates how much it costs per day to drive a car.

A tale of woe from Money Reasons.  Lest we feel too sorry for him, it got better.  We can now go back to jealously prepping classes for next semester.

Shedoncomics + blogs + grammar… triple play with the funny.  Oh snap!

a new Simon’s Cat video…!

Also: Very important cat safety tips Cats being better than dogs.

Better Book Titles (what it says on the tin)

ETA: This morning’s post from the boxcar kids is just heartbreaking. I hope they find a solution that doesn’t require losing the pets or being otherwise separated.

Gremlins

Why is it when one thing breaks, a million other things break too?  And are we EVER going to get internet at home?

Motivational speaking

Whenever I’m feeling down on my job, #2 reminds me about my alternative option.

You know, the van down by the river?

Where there’s no a/c.  (Or internet!)

And there’s bugs.

And the latrine facilities are outside, with the bugs that aren’t in the van.

And it gets cold in the winter.  And hot in the summer.  And life just sucks in general.

And that is why I need to finish this @#$@# paper.

On a related note: I got nothing.

What gets you  motivated to work when you don’t wanna?

Things That Are Cool

My man went to GenCon and told me about the woman who’s all the buzz: she had a steampunk wheelchair.  Felicia Day took a photo:

steampunk wheelchair

photo by Felicia Day

Someone on a message board (random googling, sorry) had this to say about this awesome lady:

“The woman with the Steampunk Wheelchair is a friend of mine named Noel Meyer. She’s a very accomplished miniatures painter/artist and was the coordinator for all the miniatures programming at the con (the boss of that department basically).  She went all out with the chair, it had a ton of small details like dials and levers which you could only see if you got right up to it. In addition to the lights, it had an aerosol sprayer for steam to come out the back and she had an assortment of weapons she could attach –  some scratchbuilt, some purchased. Unfortunately she’d run out of the canned steam by the time I saw it, but from what I heard it was very cool.”

Other coolness:
I read the book Peeps, by Scott Westerfeld, and really liked it. It was fun and fresh. After I finished reading it, I wanted a sequel. Unfortunately, I heard that the sequel is kind of lame and doesn’t have the same characters or structure, which is sad.

But this post is about AWESOME! Let’s see. Remember how I said that Octopus is the New Black? Well, I think that maybe Owls Are The New Octopus. Check out this live owl cam! Baby owls can make surprisingly horrible noises, it turns out, but also some cute ones. More musings on owls later, but I’m liking them.

Also to come later: new-book awesomeness.

In further Awesome, I like purple.  In general I like deep, saturated colors like burgundy, purple, deep teal, etc. I also like to look at lovely things and lovely colors.

Mangosteen:

mangosteen

Aubergine:

eggplant

Iris:

and a dress or several:

I am SO glad I love math

What follows is an unstructured rant.  I’m new at reading these professor blogs and am reacting strangely.  (Btw, that sexademic blog at the right… some of the instruction manuals are really NSFW.  Don’t be fooled when she posts innocently about peahen plumage.  Check it on your laptop in the privacy of your bedroom ;). )  Note:  tomorrow’s post is a joy post entitled “Things that are Cool.”

Reading blogs of humanities professors (or rather, the comments from adjuncts) is SO DEPRESSING.

The comment from Campbell in this post by Historiann.  About being mid-30s and making 15k/year and older profs need to retire and we couldn’t possibly understand with our 401(k)s and much larger salaries.

First off, I hope this doesn’t stir up a hornets nest (or maybe I do…), but Campbell’s comment is really reminiscent of the complaints I used to see on the CHE forum about how people lost out jobs because a woman or black person got hired instead.  If that woman or black person was not hired or that old person retired, that in no way guarantees that any specific adjunct will be hired for that position, or, as argued above, that that position will be replaced at all.  That’s not necessarily Campbell’s position but the framing is so similar I can’t help but be reminded of it.  (Oh lord, am I really channeling Glenn Beck… “isn’t it interesting…”?)

And yes, I am speaking from a position of privilege, it is true.  But a lot of choices I made were to keep myself from ever feeling trapped.  Being a history professor would have been a lot of fun, but when I made the decision to go into my field, I looked at job market outcomes and average length of programs and decided not history, not math.   Social science, so I can do what I love and get a job and a salary and if academia doesn’t work out I can make even more money in the private sector.  (Sidenote:  Actually the not history was maybe a wee bit more, Good lord some of these historians are CRAZY.  But if they weren’t, then the financial/employment considerations would have been next.)

I have a 401(k) and make money because I got a PhD in a field where demand is large and supply is moderate.  Possibly because my field requires math and data crunching and other things that often aren’t taught well in K-12, and the things I do have uses outside of academia.

If I were in my mid-30s making 15K/year and being miserable… well, I’d find me something else to do.  Heck, office work pays better than that and is probably equally miserable.  And I wouldn’t blame folks who aren’t retiring at age 65.  (Incidentally, that idea that there’s a fixed number of jobs and we need old folks to retire to make way for new folks is very European… even in university settings t-t jobs aren’t replaced one-for-one.)  We need those folks to work longer so that they maintain their quality of life (including the mental, emotional, and physical benefits to working) and keep providing for the economy as they age.  (Not to say early retirement is a bad thing if you can afford it, or isn’t necessary for people with poor health or physical jobs.  Just on average.)

(Don’t even get me started ranting on Krugman’s horrible simplistic Social Security piece in the NYTimes.  He’s good on what he does but is completely ignoring the well-researched, well-thought-out general consensus on SS.)

Anyway, even though IBTP for many things, I don’t let it keep me down if I can help it.  If you’re not in a position of privilege then you have to work harder.  Then make changes so that society improves.  But don’t attack other people, either individually or as a class.  The man may be keeping you down, or that may just be your imagination, but nothing is going to happen if you don’t try to find your own happiness.  Victim-mentality and whining does not constitute action.  Infighting does not improve the greater good.

Gah… why do I even bother writing these posts?  I try to say something and then someone else says it so much better.  Maybe if I had a humanities degree I’d be better at vocalizing my thoughts.  Though I do agree with Dr. Crazy more in her comments and not on all points of her thesis.  I still see the adjunct thing as a problem of supply and demand, I guess in that way I have sympathies for Dean Dad.  Employers wouldn’t be able to do it if there weren’t employees willing to take it.  There are other job opportunities available for someone dedicated and intelligent, even if they don’t use the PhD.  (Maybe not so much these days…)  There should still be minimum wage floors and standards etc. but limiting adjuncts is not necessarily the way to go (especially if it means higher teaching loads for the rest of us, including graduate students, double especially if it means more graduate students).

BUT.  There’s no point in me arguing anything about adjuncts or the number of PhDs produced or paying English professors more/less or any of the other structural facts of academia that I, as an untenured professor, have zero control over.  I cannot let myself get caught up in these debates… otherwise I would join the darned Women’s Faculty Network and be done with it.  No.

Ok, so unless #2 wants to rant on this, I think I’m going to let more tenured heads carry the torch, NYTimes articles and humming blogospheres notwithstanding.  It’s too easy to get up in these wars that ultimately change nothing.  I’ve got tenure to procure and a mortgage to pay.

*end .streamofconsciousness

#2 says: I read your rant and had to stop myself from ranting right along with you, otherwise I would be typing for the next hour and I have things to do.  I have so much ranty on this subject that I’m not going to put it here until I can be more coherent.  I make less than #1 and I am fortunate to have a T-T job.  Unlike #1, the job market has not allowed me to live with my partner of over a decade, and I periodically get very annoyed at this situation.  Oh dear, rant beginning– get out while you still can!!

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The couples and finances issue

#1 Completely shares finances.  All accounts are joint.  This is not what I thought was going to happen, I thought that there would be his, her, and ours accounts.  But it turns out that my partner didn’t like to worry his pretty little head over money and I love to.   He has since read Your Money or Your Life and plays an active role in decision making.  He does the taxes because that stresses me out (and it keeps him in tune with the big picture even if I handle the month-to-month stuff).  He gives himself a weekly allowance and gets 10x his weekly amount at Christmas and his birthday.  I just spend money on whatever I want, which is not much.  I do not pass judgment on any couple who has completely separate finances or a mix of separate and combined taxes.

#2, OTOH, has completely separate finances.  We are currently living in different states (stupid job market), so that is one issue.  However, even when we lived together, we had separate everything, and we probably will once we live together again, too.  Some things will combine when we eventually get married.  I plan to eventually buy a house, and ideally he would contribute to the downpayment/mortgage and therefore the house would be in both our names.  I think I have one credit card that he is on.  I sort of like the idea of his/hers/ours accounts, which is what my dad does with his wife.  They each have their own accounts, plus they have a joint account.  Because they make different salaries, they each contribute the same proportion of their incomes to the joint account, which they use to pay for mortgage, groceries, clothes for the kids, etc.  They use their own accounts for gifts for each other, their own classes, hobbies, toys, etc.  The joint account pays for the cars.

I like this idea.  My partner and I have had some in-depth discussions about finances a while ago, and we’ll surely have more when we get engaged.  We have separate cars, which we paid for separately and do not co-own.  The thing is, we have really different attitudes towards money and different patterns of spending.  If our money were joint, it would drive me nuts and make me paranoid and prone to nagging– even though I now understand why he spends money the way he does.  If we need to pay for something together, one of us will write a check to the other one.

The truth is, both our ways of handling money are fine.  Both of us pay our bills on time, and we both have good credit.  We have been through various periods of one of us supporting the other financially, too.  We individually spend money on things that are important to us and we don’t bounce the rent checks.  We simply prioritize things differently.  Not having to look at his bank balances saves me from having to worry about them!  I trust him, so I can leave his money alone.  Again, marriage may change this some, but it’s a way that we can both stay sane about money and it’s worked for over a decade of our relationship.

How do you handle joint finances, or how do you think you’d handle them?   (Do you judge people who handle them differently than you do?)

Welcome Carnival of Personal Finance Readers

We were included in Live Real Now’s Carnival #270.  Welcome!

What do you think?  What should I do with 24K?

Here are some additional posts you may find of interest:

An homage to Your Money or Your Life

Sure, prepay the mortgage, but don’t *just* prepay it.

Adventures in Retirement Saving Part 1 and Part 2: Part 3

What is satisficing and why it is a good thing to do.

A tiny rant on blog commenters who meta-judge

Octopodes are cute