• Not only will Ing not give up my money, Fidelity is sucking too.  They ignored the checked box instructing them to make all accounts the same as the first account on our initial forms and put half our stuff into cash reserves.  They also didn’t believe DH’s account roll over had vested so a good 30K has been sitting in cash reserves as they couldn’t move it to stocks (even though it was in stocks with Ing).  And I can’t find an automatic annual re-balance feature.
  • Update:  I fixed the above with Fidelity (except the auto-rebalancing), but still annoying.  Why do you have to fill out all those forms if they’re just going to ignore them?
  • The Ing guy came by my office and finished half of a sentence in which he was wondering why I’d gone with Ing in the first place (since I seemed to be not entirely clueless).  I told him I was pregnant and busy and he provided a service, but now I have more time.  I also complained that they still haven’t transferred my account but he did not offer to help with that.
  • #2 wishes she made as much money as #1.
  • Quarterly dividends rock my world.  (I said that already though)
  • Everyday tips feels our pain.  Free trials are eeeeevil.
  • Those of you on something other than a Jan-start financial schedule, have you requested your FSA reimbursements yet?  More than $2K reimbursement for daycare was just sitting in my account… Another almost 3K to go…
  • Employer discounts are pretty awesome.  I sure wish our employer listed them somewhere so we didn’t have to ask.
  • Another reason to prefer index funds:  trying to figure out cost-basis information.  There’s a reason we haven’t sold our single share of AOL, or our multiple shares of the two Time Warner companies that used to be AOL.  What a hassle.  Yay for new legislation on providers to keep cost-basis info.  Boo for it happening too late to help me!

Have you had any frustrating or joyful money experiences recently?


Couchblogging and Rearranging the Library

Friends, here is my first blog post written on my couch… because I finally got a new computer with actual functioning wireless!  Hooray!  Plus, now the world can Skype with my cat.  Ah, the internet.

I’ve been thinking lately about rearranging my books, a perennial joy of the bibliophile.  Right now they are arranged somewhat randomly, but there is some meaning.  All the books by each author are, of course, together.  I mostly own fiction, but also some nonfiction.  The nonfiction is growing, but not as fast as the fiction.  Nothing is alphabetized.  (#2:  GASP!  There may be dust over everything and clutter on the floor but my books and spices are alphabetized!)  All the cartoon books are together; these and other works that cheer or comfort me are kept near my bed for easy access in times of stress, books being excellent for mood regulation.  Other books are distributed across shelves and rooms with little rhyme or reason, other than a few outposts of nonfiction on the edges of the fiction shelves.

I would like to have a few “subject” areas, such as keeping all my books about writing together.  But shouldn’t the how-to writing manuals stay shelved with the fiction that author wrote and for whom I originally loved her or him?  Hmmm.  I would have a section for animal books (such as Tell Me Where It Hurts and All Creatures Great and Small) and a section for books about books and reading.  I would like to keep all my graphic novels together, perhaps, but what of authors who have both graphic and regular text novels?  Perhaps the graphic novels will remain spread out.

A lot of memoirs and other non-fiction is stuff I keep because it reads as quickly and easily as fiction (they call it “narrative nonfiction” these days, or “creative nonfiction”).  Those things I wouldn’t want to separate from the fiction; in my mind they serve the same purpose as fiction, which is amusement.  They beguile me to pass the time.  These types of books that I read purely for pleasure are distinguished from what I think of as “work” books, which may or may not also be interesting and enjoyable but which I read mainly for work purposes.  Lately I’ve been thinking I want to segregate these from the rest of my books, on a separate shelf perhaps, and integrate the rest of the narrative nonfiction with the fiction (which is partially the case now).  It would be cool to be able to browse all the “fun” books at once, whether fiction or non-, and to keep the books that remind me of my job off to the side where I won’t accidentally stumble on them and think about my job when I am trying to relax.

Any organizational scheme must allow for uneven expansion, which is why alphabetization has failed me so far.  I refuse to put books in an order such that it’s hard to add one new one without having to move all the others (and I don’t have that much expansion room to spare).  Right now I just know where each book is, but as the collection grows that becomes probably less possible — I haven’t found the limit yet, though.  (#2 doesn’t mind moving books for expansion, her OCD actually enjoys it, but also has temporary solutions by having very tall spaces between shelves, so as things get added they can lay flat on top of the other books.  When there’s no more room, she buys another bookcase.)

If you have time, you can read the classic On Books and the Housing of Them, by former Prime Minister and noted bibliophile William Gladstone. Realistically, I probably won’t do anything except look at pictures of other people’s bookshelves and drool.

#2 says,  *DROOL*  So not all of the books in my house are alphabetized.  The children’s books are sorted by reading level and only partially alphabetized starting with the chapter books.  The non-fiction (except cookbooks) is mixed in with fiction hardbacks and only partially alphabetized because they’re in the living room and sorted first by hardback/large paperback and then by subject so that they look pretty.  One day I may re-tackle that.

What’s your organizational schema?

Linkus Lovius

We were in this week’s carnival of personal finance.

This is literally the best thing I have seen all week:

Budgeting in the Fun Stuff needs some help figuring out how to eat healthily on a budget.  She’s new at this so give her some advice!

First Gen American with an incredibly thoughtful post commemorating Martin Luther King day and discussing racism.  Babci is similar to my father in many ways, even though they came from very different countries.  Here’s Everyday Tips with MLK quotes.

Math doodles are AWESOME.

People often ask, is there any reason not to drop out of the workforce to have kids.  On the moms forums, women always say no, there is no reason not to drop out.  Dean Dad discusses his wife’s experience trying and failing to opt back in.  (Also note the overt gender discrimination by one employer.)

Poor Benny.  (Hyperbole and a half)

LOVE this beat poem!

SS4BC on incredibly useful advice on how to become a pharmacist.  Maybe there’s a deficit because people don’t get this advice in time to avoid 8 years of schooling.

I have seen these pots!  Little House with a commentary.

Growing list of WordPress blogs that our comments do not show up on:

Worst prof ever
Living Almost Large

Update:  Also Reassigned Time

Please fish us out of your spam filters!

In which I critique — ah, the hell with it.

I have been known to critique science before.  Sometimes things on the internet make me want to critique bad reasoning.

But THIS? The mind boggles.  ESP, really?  I wish that I could read the reviewer comments on this paper.  I boggle and become incoherent.  Apparently in some circumstances, college students can detect the appearance of porn ahead of time, very slightly better than chance.  Also:

From the NYT article:
“In his version, Dr. Bem gave 100 college students a memory test before they did the categorizing — and found they were significantly more likely to remember words that they practiced later. “The results show that practicing a set of words after the recall test does, in fact, reach back in time to facilitate the recall of those words,” the paper concludes. “


#2 chimes in:  note this telling bit in the NYTimes article:

So far, at least three efforts to replicate the experiments have failed. But more are in the works, Dr. Bem said, adding, “I have received hundreds of requests for the materials” to conduct studies.

Remember that within a 95% confidence interval, when you perform this experiment 20 times, one of those times it is going to come up significant, on average.  Even if he hasn’t falsified anything or added any other kinds of accidental cues, chances are every once and a while the wrong result will come up statistically significant, even when there is no actual relationship.

Things we want (or want to think about) after tenure

So we have a lot of things we want, but we can’t really think about now so we say, hey, maybe after tenure.   Some stuff, like buying a house or renovating the kitchen aren’t going to be worthwhile if we find out we’ll have to move (which we would have to do without tenure).  Some stuff we’d like a little more academic freedom to not stress over (like not inflating grades, or telling obnoxious students to buzz off…).   Some things are just going to take more time than the tenure clock allows, like top journal pubs (not that we haven’t tried!  but we’re getting too close to really take those risks on new things that might not pan out right now).

Anyway, here’s our list:

  • an entirely new kitchen
  • a raise
  • developing an online course
  • a vacation that doesn’t correspond with a conference
  • a top tier journal publication
  • lower tier journal publications that are just fun even if not actually important from a theoretical or practical standpoint
  • a raise
  • a sabbatical
  • another cat
  • a house
  • boots
  • freedom to tell students to step off
  • fair grading
  • more time with partner
  • publishing fiction?  at least writing more of it
  • hair dyed a cool color
  • a different research culture
  • a wider driveway
  • a raise
  • the ability to wear something other than suits to teach in
  • figure out whether to do laser or electrolysis and do it

Are we foolish or savvy for waiting on these things?  Do you think we’ll get to them after tenure?

Academics and former academics:  What are your tenure goals if you’re one of us and if you have tenure, did anything come to fruition?

Pirates and airships and armored sharks, oh my

This is a brief mini-review of a very silly book called The Iron Duke, by Meljean Brook.


Ok, first of all, the cover.  A guy with half a face, half-naked, and not in a good way.  I’m sorry.  Please ignore the cover.  I don’t know what happened there.

BUT!  Inside: steampunkery.  There’s a guy who is a (supposedly) reformed pirate.  Some pirate ships.  Armored sharks!!!!  Airships.  Automata, mechanical hearts, nanites.  Clockwork flesh.  A kraken from the deep, which must be daringly harpooned by the ass-kicking heroine (oops, minor spoiler).  This thing is so over the top; I loved that part.  Robot cats that breed.  Treason and treachery and a doomsday weapon!  Difficult race relations in a postcolonial, somewhat post-apocalyptic setting.  High society.  Oh, and also zombies.  I’m not even kidding.

#2 would definitely not like how sex is handled in this book.  I’m not sure I like it either.  There is some confusion going on and I think it could’ve been handled differently.

I would give it a high 3.5 stars out of 5.  I would like to give it 4 stars for fun, but it’s not quite there.  Still, a good way to pass the time.


regional food delicacies we have loved

I’m currently hooked on Man vs. Food via Netflix streaming.  We LOVE food!

In this post we’re talking about stuff you can’t find everywhere but you also don’t find in just one restaurant.  They’re town or city or regional specialties.  Here’s some favorites from places we’ve lived or visited:

kolaches — sweet egg enriched dough with meat or fruit or cheese in it, similar to a danish but the dough is more bready

cheese curds — they make your teeth squeak!

beer nuggets — deep fried lightly fermented (day-old) pizza dough, served with pizza sauce or sprinkled in cinnamon sugar

frozen custard — eggy soft serve icecream like substance

Pittsburgh steak salad– comes with steak and french fries on top

red bean frappe– red beans in an ice cream shake… or should I say frappe?

king cake– colorful cake that hurts your teeth with the sweetness

St. Louis style ribs– sweet goey pork bbq in a rich tomato based sweet sauce, charred to perfection.  It’s all about the sauce.

TX style brisket– The other end of the bbq spectrum where only the meat matters.  You can tell it’s real by the smoke ring.

Bialy– Like a bagel with *stuff* in the center

Apple pie with cheddar cheese– on the East Coast they thought I was an abomination but they just go SO WELL together.

any deli sandwich with coleslaw and Russian dressing, oh man I miss sloppy sandwiches

almonds from almond plaza…. and chocolate from Giardelli square

The absolute best regional food:  Chicago style stuffed pizza!!!  A layer of deep dish dough, a layer of cheese and meat/veggies (I’m partial to spinach… or sausage and onion), another layer of dough, then covered with pizza sauce.  You only need to eat one heavenly piece to feel full, but you might have two anyway.

What are your favorite regional foods?

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