Links, I want to be more than friends.

Lots of links this week!  We were cracking up before Tuesday with all the internet hilarity.  A good week for the internets.  We’re even moving some posts to next week’s link love so as not to overwhelm.

We agree with LAL, there is very little worth paying to store long-term.  Use it or get rid of it.  My BIL and SIL recently learned this lesson when they cleared out their long-term storage and realized they didn’t actually want anything in there.  (Though on the plus side, some of that stuff was stuff they’d borrowed from DH!  It would have been cheaper to return it before paying to store it.)

Interesting debate about homeopathy in a medical school.  People, I like science.  I also like plants.  But I like science-based plants.  I like making money, and improving lives, and railing against the American “health”care system.  But somehow I seem to like science more.  I’m not very well informed about most of this, but I kinda think there’s a difference between acupuncture and homeopathy.  Anyone with evidence can feel free to inform me in the comments!  (#2 notes:  If homeopathy is real then we’re all drinking essence of poo.)

Speaking of science:  presented without comment.  (#2 comments:  No links to the big firestorm that Historiann reported on?  Also, why don’t people who do medical science research understand statistics?)

For all you academics hating the month of April (Hatepril), here is a poem about the utter futility of it all. Ah, grading.

Finding Serenity with a nice list of illegal financial things people do.

The cast of the Importance of Being Earnest doing dramatic readings of Jersey Shore transcripts.

Amazon’s $23,698,655.93 book about flies from Micheleisen.

Jacq sent us this one from the onion about how words can truly hurt on student evals.

Here is your blast-from-the-past fond memory of the day:

Also, a new Simon’s Cat video so adorbz you may cry:

Sleep, she is precious

Some public radio show wanted me to do an interview at 5:30 in the morning.  I just can’t do that.

You know how one of those job interview questions is about what your biggest weakness is?  My biggest job weakness:  I like my sleep.   — ditto me too

My strong desire to sleep in and to get enough sleep and so on has lead to opportunities missed, advancements not made, classes not taken…

In high school I qualified to take a big fancy math exam (the AIME) after getting a high enough score on the ASHE.  I skipped out because it would have required me to get up an hour earlier than usual.  Not worth it!

There are a few things I will get up for:

Flights (so long as I can sleep in the airport, car, or plane)

Giving birth

Occasionally child-related activities if DH can’t handle them.

Having a child has shifted the schedule so 7:30am no longer seems as obscene as it once did.  It’s a testament to how much I love DC that my day no longer goes from 10am to midnight.

I have a super-productive colleague that doesn’t sleep much.  It doesn’t seem fair!  Her normal amount of sleep is around 4 hours per night.  Some nights, she says, she doesn’t sleep at all, and it doesn’t bother her in the least.  She’ll just sleep 4 – 5 hours the next night and feel fine.  ARGH!  I need 8 -10 hours to feel good and at least 7 to function (though having only 7 on a regular basis leads to extreme exhaustion).  Of COURSE she has more grants and publications than I do.  Biology is against me!  Argh!  (That means I have to work harder and smarter…)

“Not a morning person doesn’t even begin to describe it.” ~ Pin from high school.

How do you and sleep get along?  Has general grogitude and refusal to sacrifice ever hindered anything in your life?

Breastmilk supply

I find myself constantly writing these comments over and over again, so I think I’ll write a post I can reference.

Breastfeeding is really really difficult at first.  It doesn’t really come naturally either for mom or for the baby.  (Some folks suggest it comes easier if the baby is allowed to nurse immediately after birth, which may be true, but there’s still a lot of learning involved.)  Reading up on it is helpful, and having the number for a good lactation consultant or LLL can work wonders.

Breastmilk is demand-induced supply.  The way the baby tells your breasts to make more milk is by sucking as much as ze can, even after the breast is empty (the breast never gets completely empty, but it definitely will go down in amount stored with each feeding).  Unfortunately, there’s a delayed response between the baby saying, “I want more” and the body actually making more.  The breasts will have more storage capacity and more milk in them later, so long as the baby keeps sucking.  A common mistake encouraged by the formula companies is to feed a bottle of formula at this point, but when you do that, the breast doesn’t get the message to make more milk and so the baby still doesn’t have enough to drink the next time, so there’s more formula supplementation, and eventually the mother loses her supply and stops nursing.  A recommendation is no formula for the first two weeks (assuming the right number of wet diapers) until the milk supply is set in.  Another trick you can do that cuts down on the painful (to mom) crying is to pump so that you get a small oversupply, so that your breasts are ahead of the curve on supply.

Your baby starts out with a tummy that’s about the size of a dime.  That means lots and lots of nursing while you and the baby learn how to nurse.  As the baby grows, the tummy grows, and it wants more milk but can go longer between feedings.  It is normal for a baby to eat frequently, especially during growth spurts.

Later on, you may think you have a lower supply. Read these links on kelly-mom:

Remember too that babies will lose some weight after being born, and that’s normal.  Additionally breast-fed babies have a different growth-curve than formula-fed babies and don’t poo as much.  An older breast-fed baby can go a LONG time without a poo and that is also normal.  (The resulting poo is generally ginormous though.)

A few more things to point out if you suspect a low supply later:

1. You may be about to have your period. Your supply will go back up after it is over.
2. You may be anemic. You need to eat more iron: pills, red meat, oatmeal etc.
3.  At some point in nursing your breasts become less milk storage devices and more milk creation devices. This is normal. Just because they’re squishy doesn’t mean they’re not making enough milk.
4. The one major thing missing from kellymom is discussions about pumping problems.  If you’re just going by pump output, you may need to clean out your pump. Is there cat hair on the motor membrane? The medela PISA seems to be designed for the rubber membrane to rupture every 9 months (at least the versions I and my similar baby aged colleagues had… the earlier ones were more hardy and the later ones may be as well). Do you need to replace the little white flappy things on the horn?

How to insure a good supply:

Mom needs to do NOTHING for the first two weeks (longer if c-section) except sleep, eat, drink water, nurse, and relax.  She needs to be waited on hand and foot.  She is not to be allowed to clean or cook or anything.  She needs to conserve her energy and her sleep for learning how to nurse and making food for the baby.  The #1 determinant of ability to nurse long-term is support.  (Obviously there are cases in which breast-feeding is impossible, like after some kinds of breast reduction surgery, or because of genetic problems, and thank God we have formula, but for most people it is lack of support that is the problem.)  Kellymom now has a forum in addition to being an awesome resource otherwise.

I could talk a lot more about breast-feeding, but I think I’ll just stick to the issues of supply.  Do you have any questions, comments, concerns, stories?

Breaking an addiction

Disclaimer:  I have no knowledge or expertise in the area of addictions.  If you have a true addiction, especially one of a chemical nature, please seek professional help such as a therapist.

I talked in a previous post about my addictions.  Lately there’s just too much drama, so at the urging of #2, who is continually baffled at hearing me whine, even if it results in entertaining blog posts (and lots of hits!), I’ve been attempting to wean off the latest forum.

Usually in these cases the best thing to do is to just quit cold turkey, to cancel my account so I can’t log in even if I wanted to.  Then I might be able to read the forum, but without actually being able to participate it’s not as addicting.  In this specific case I really don’t want to do that because I can’t read this forum unless I have a login and on a few occasions it has been much more efficient to ask a question or search the forum than to ask the internet.  I have a general idea about who has good information and who is a crackpot.  There’s also a few threads with very useful information that I don’t want to lose access to if I need to look something up on those particular topics.

So the next thing to do is to make it more difficult for me to access the forums.  I did this with the Chronicle back in the day, blocking access completely from my work computer.  I’d go to the page and it would say I wasn’t allowed to access the page.  Disabling that was a PITA.  Sadly Windows has upgraded and I can’t use the same method to do that.  I can block from IE or Firefox, but that block is WAY too easy to disable.

In this case, I logged out, deleted my cookies, cleared the cache, and forced myself not to type the URL on my work computer.  On my home computer, I only allowed myself to type it on IE and I deleted all traces of having been there after visiting the page, so I couldn’t just go back in with the click of a button or two.

It was really hard not accessing it at first and I sometimes bypassed my controls to get in.

I allowed myself to check it every few days, then longer periods of time.

And the sad secret to these forums is, no matter how long I spend on them when I’m active, nothing interesting happens on forums when I’m not there to participate.  This was always a sad discovery when I’d been on vacation without internet for a few days, and it’s just as sad when I try to break an addiction.  What have I been spending all that time on?  Nothing.  Sigh.

Of course, immediately I try to find substitute addictions.  Our blog queue is bustling.  Get rich slowly got a few extra arguments in that it would have escaped had I still had a forum to “spread my wisdom” at.  Blogs have been commented on.  I’ve been checking out another forum, much to #2’s consternation, that I will not and have not signed up for.  I can already tell that one guy on there is a sexist bastard with major issues (just like on the Chronicle forums, joyeaux!) and a woman on there seriously needs to get therapy for herself no matter what she thinks is wrong with her daughter (just like on regular mothering forums!).

On the plus side, I’ve read a lot more novels than I usually do and reading novels is more fun than getting into online arguments.  The house is also a bit cleaner than usual, though a lot of that was Spring break.

#2 supports you through this arduous process, and deeply encourages use of novels.

#2 is also becoming a fan of changing habits using behavioral techniques that don’t rely on willpower.  Willpower is hard. An example of such a technique: making it physically impossible (or at least hard) to do that thing you want to do but shouldn’t.  That lessens the strain on your willpower, and #1 did that admirably.  Even logging one’s behavior can often lead to change, which is why food diaries are a component of so many successful healthy eating plans.

Getting social support for change (hello, accountability web page!) and distancing yourself from temptation can also work too.  Finally, course, you could distract yourself by replacing one habit with another (oops?).

Commitment devices are also awesome.  NaNoWriMo recommends making a bet with a friend: whoever doesn’t meet their goal has to do something awful, such as doing the dishes for a month or shaving one’s head.  Having a consequence already in place that you have to work to stave off — now that’s motivating!  My favorite idea for big, hard, important goals is another one I stole from the NaNoWriMo book (#1 notes, and THEY stole from Dean Karlan… that he stole from Boice…): Write a check for a large-ish amount of money to an organization you hate.  If you are a republican, write it to the democratic national party, or vice versa.  If you are pro-life, write it to NARAL.  Etc.  Sign this check, put it in an envelope, address and stamp it.  Give the envelope to someone trustworthy.  If you meet your goal, the person gives it back to you and you tear it up.  If you don’t meet your goal, they mail it.  Aiee!

Do you have any legal addictions?  How do you break them?  What do you do with your time once you’ve broken them?

We like cheese

Our favorite cheeses:

Boursin — Melt in  your mouth creamy.  Like melting heaven.

St. Andre — Boursinny in the center, brie-like in the edges… currently my favorite cheese.

Cheddar — The work-horse of cheeses– on burgers, Mexican food, turkey sandwiches… life just wouldn’t be right without cheddar.  (#2 adds: the sharper, the better!)

Fresh Mozzarella — Nothing says summer like fresh crusty bread, aged or reduced balsamic vinegar, a touch of sharp Spanish olive oil, bright red tomatoes, fresh picked basil, and thick slabs of fresh buffalo mozzarella.

Parmesan/Romano — Sprinkled on top of many a pasta, this cheese gives it an extra dimension.  We buy big chunks, process in the food processor, and stick in the freezer.

Brie– if you haven’t tried it melted over baked pear slices… well, you should.

Of course, we love smokey and nutty cheeses as well.  #1 can’t stand goat cheese (it tastes like goat), but there’s so much wonderful deliciousness in the cheeses of the world that it really doesn’t matter.

#2, OTOH, would like to sing the praises of exquisite goat cheese.  It even goes with dark chocolate!  You can mix it with honey and put it on fruit.  Or you can keep it plain and just eat it with crackers or whatever.  Soooo delicious!

Feta goes deliciously in Greek food.  I don’t mind paneer and I really like cream cheese.  I can’t STAND queso fresco.  Ick.  Blue cheeses of any sort are disgusting as hell.  Mizithra is only ok.  (#1 noms all of the above!  She used to hate blue cheese but has since come to appreciate its creamy bitterness.)

Also, let’s not forget the wonders of gouda, colby-jack, provolone, the occasional muenster, and — our very favorite — local artisan cheeses that you get in tiny bites at various ethnic restaurants.  Made with sheep milk or I-don’t-even-know-what.  Beyond awesome.

What are your favorite cheeses and why?  How do you like them prepared?

Dissecting an emergency room bill

Recently DC did what almost all DCs do at some point in their lives and stuffed a bead up hir nose.  Right before bedtime.  On my birthday.

Because it was a bead with a nice big hole in it, it wouldn’t sneeze out.

DH tried to tweezer it out but that just caused bleeding and an upset DC.

Google told us that things stuck up noses can be aspirated to the lungs and that can cause infections and abscesses and so on.  Google recommended the emergency room if home remedies didn’t work.  They didn’t.

So we paid the copay and a doctor and a couple nurses tried all the home remedies we tried to no avail.  Eventually they had to knock DC out so ze would stop squiggling and they could get the bead out.  Which they did.  DC will never ever do that again.  Only kleenex up noses from now on.

Weeks pass.  I dreaded seeing the bill (though not horrible amounts as we do have a tony emergency fund these days).  I figured it would be big, especially with the general anesthesia.

I did not figure quite on HOW BIG, however.  DH had had an emergency room trip for something much more scary a few years back and that only cost us something like $800 and there was lots of monitoring and stuff involved.

Cost?  $3000.  BC/BS bargained them to about half that.  Cost to us:  $1400.

But no indication of what that $3000 was for.  DH called up.  (And called up again a couple days later, and again until finally they called back.)  They told him that they could not tell him what the charges were for unless he showed up in person with proof that DC was his DC.  So he did, because we have general principal of not paying bills unless we know what they’re for.

$1400 just for going into a room at the emergency room.  That is the lowest amount they charge for just going into a room, a level 1 charge.  They also have a level 2 and level 3 charge!

$90 for the anesthesia (this I thought would be a lot more pricey)

$300 for a “minor ER procedure” (we think this was them poking around before anesthesia, tickling and attempting suction)

$870 for a “major ER procedure” (more people standing around while the doctor used suction, possibly also the post-anesthesia observation)

$280 for what we believe is the IV.

What was really interesting was the other info the lady gave us.  Her boss has been getting a lot more complaints about costs since these cost rules were put in place ($1400 just for entering a room!) and she can’t cut the cost of any one item, so no discounts there, but she has been settling debt for smaller amounts.  But, you have to make an appointment with her.  And she wasn’t there.  More hurdles.

After much agonizing about whether or not to try to set up an appointment with the “boss,” we decided to just pay the bill.  At least we’ll be getting 1% back from the credit card.  And hey, we’re halfway towards paying our family deductible… if there’s an emergency this summer we’ll at most have to pay $1500 for it.

DH recommends that you ask the doctor if it’s ok to wait for the next day to go to an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist.  On the other hand, we were very happy to have the sense that all was right with the world at the end of the ER visit, and waiting another day would have been frustrating and probably not worth it for our sanity, even if it would have saved us several hundred dollars.

Graduate school grades

Do grades matter in graduate school?  In my area of social science they really don’t.  You have to get an A or a B to pass the class (some schools will do it by GPA instead so a C here or there is ok so long as you get enough As to balance), but there’s really no bonus to getting straight As.  Nobody looks or cares.  The only grade I actually remember from graduate school is the B I got in a class that I was almost positive I was going to fail.  In my area of study grades seemed pretty random… the 3-hour exams at the end of the semester generally had nothing to do with the lecture which had nothing to do with the homework (which generally was not graded for credit).

Straight As help if you’re trying to go from an MA to a PhD but graduate school Bs are not going to kill your chances to get into a PhD program if you got straight As as an undergrad.  Graduate school classes are supposed to be harder than undergrad classes.

Apparently what’s true in my area of social science is not true in the humanities.  Notorious PhD, girl scholar, has a really interesting post on how Bs in an English program mean you should leave graduate school entirely.

Man am I glad I’m not in English!

I can’t even imagine that kind of pressure.  What if you’ve got an obnoxious prof that’s just a low grader*?

How do grades work in your discipline?  Does a B mean you should give up?

*On a separate note:  This year’s class sure cries a lot.  My world is awash in the salty tears of entitlement.

Link love

Fantastic post from mama phd on insidehighered, Dear God what about the men. 

The always fraught issue of housework, with comments showing various deals people have worked out.  From Offbeat Home.  Related:  wandering scientist discusses the concept of buying time.  We are huge fans of the concept.

There were some serious fights this week among academics about adjuncting and what that all means.  Despite our post On Definitions coming out the same day as the original from Tenured Radical (which conflated part-time adjuncting with visiting professor positions), we opted to stay out of that fray (we like to keep our drama levels at a certain height and had already met our allotment for the week).  We did enjoy reassigned time’s contemplation about why all the discussion on her blog is polite.  I think we will fail to link to all the related posts whether vitriolic or not.  Well, except this one from Spanish prof trying to get some blog comments.  Head over there and say hi.

Historiann had a series on the US education system that are well worth reading.  Here’s one of the posts.

Grace is writing a new budget.  Give her some encouragement!

The Simple Dog “is definitely not the type of animal that would thrive in the wild.”  I still don’t understand why people have dogs, but this is, as always, hilarious.  New from hyperbole and a half!

Should have linked to this one last week from First Gen American.  On obesity among other things.  Also think happy thoughts for Babci’s upcoming surgery.

Wow… nightmare students and their moms from fumbling through chaos.  I can’t wait for part II!

Floss update:

This thread depresses me

Gifted-as-children stay-at-home-mothers discuss their brains atrophying and their careers dying while they nurture their gifted daughters through homeschooling.

Another reason I am not and could never be a SAHP.  (Though I’m fairly sure I could handle independently wealthy… I’m willing to experiment on that if anyone wants to fund me!)

SAH to optimize your child… for what?  So she can stay at home, miserable, with her child 10 or 20 years from now, just like you are?

Yes, I know that it is VERY difficult to find a good schooling match for a bright and gifted child.  Homeschooling might be the best solution for the kid.  But… school is not even 8 hours per day.  Sometimes you just gotta compromise a little bit.  Sometimes the kid is going to have to make sacrifices so that the mom (and it is nearly ALWAYS the mom) doesn’t lose her career ambitions and sanity as well.  That’s ok.  Life doesn’t have to be always perfect for just one member of the family.  The family is a unit that moves forward together.

And maybe, just maybe, seeing mom fulfilled and career-driven and independent (while still being a loving mom) will work as a great role-model for the grown daughter, who realizes that life does get better after you graduate K-12, and she can balance a fulfilling career and family, and it is important for all family members to pull their own weight in order for this to happen.

Thanks, mom, for never quitting your job and brilliantly raising two strong, independent, hardworking, and intelligent daughters.  I know we always came first, but it was good for us to know that we were never the only thing.  Just like our children are/will be most important but never the the sole driving force behind our existence.

Disclaimer:  We are not against SAHP.  We just think it isn’t suited for some people, and don’t think these folks should be forcing themselves into SAHParenthood because of some notion that parents (mothers) must sacrifice everything for their children.  If you enjoy it and it’s working for you and you can afford it, then go for it!

#2 continues to wonder why #1 reads depressing fora.  Come to the fora on LibraryThing!  We talk about books!

Beautiful Pictures

These pictures are here because I want to look at something pretty.  Perhaps you would, too!

I want to cozy up here

Click this link for a gorgeous drawing from an artist with an awesome moniker.

I think this video is peaceful and sweet:

Aren’t these colors lovely?

gareth1953 under Creative Commons

Celeste33 under Creative Commons

UGArdener under Creative Commons

coco+kelley under Creative Commons

I can dig this

I'm imagining this room with some changes to make an awesome, over-the-top bedroom.


Other beautiful book pictures at Breathing Books. Many other pretties at Teaching Literacy.

Ok, now show us extremely beautiful things in the comments!