Authors I have been enjoying on my Kindle

Free books and you don’t even have to go to the library to get them! Yay Project Gutenberg.

Maria Thompson Daviess: The Melting of Molly is delightfully tongue in cheek. And has a lovely ending.

A. A. Milne:  He didn’t just write books about Christopher Robin.  I’ve been enjoying his very silly plays.  Belinda, for example.

Mary Roberts Reinhart:  Lovely romantic suspense, lovely romance, lovely suspense.  Fun all around.

Raphael Sabatini:  Sadly not all of his stuff is good; he was prolific.  But they’ve got his best: Captain Blood, ScaramoucheThe Sea-Hawk.  Mmmm swashbuckling romance!  I don’t think they have Master at Arms, which is a shame (also titled The Marquis of Carabas… under which you can get it for cash money as a paperback).

Booth Tarkington:  I loved the Penrod books growing up.  (So did my mom!)  They’re like a lower key Tom Sawyer set in a slightly later time period.

Carolyn Wells: The Patty books are so very silly.  So much like brain candy.  Quite soothing!  Even if women’s best career ambition is to be a homemaker. (Ptuii!)

Oscar Wilde:  The Canterbury Ghost, plays, so soothing, so wickedly funny.

P.G. Wodehouse:  There are at least two Jeeves books.  And assorted crap not worth reading (juvenalia, stuff that is a bit racist and just not very good in other ways).  There may be some non crap stuff too but I haven’t gone through it all yet.  Jeeves and Wooster are soothing my anxious soul.  I like hearing Steven Fry and Hugh Laurie in my head as I reread them.  It adds another dimension.

Fry and Laurie

I say!

What are your recommendations for free kindle books?

Theory of cat hair diffusion

The reason cats shed so much is that they are trying to reach cat hair equilibrium.  Cat hair equilibrium will occur when the surrounding space has the same density of cat hair as the place from which the cat hair emanates, namely, the cat.   Under this theory, the cat will eventually stop shedding once we are so deep in fur that we are unable to breathe.

A corollary to this theory is that diffusion occurs faster when the gradient between the high density fur area and the low density fur area is larger.  That is, the more you vacuum, the faster they shed.

Related:  #2 claims this furminator reduces her cat by 10% upon use.  It doesn’t seem to stop him shedding, but it does make him smaller!  Perhaps there is a complex equation about changing surface-to-volume ratio.  One time (on a previous cat) I decided that I would keep brushing until he either quit shedding, or was naked.  After an hour neither had occurred, and I gave up.

Do you all have any corroborating or denying evidence?  Alternate theories?  Stories of ginormous cat-hair tumbleweeds?

Where have you traveled?

Which are your favorite places?

My parents had a bit of a wanderlust, so I’ve been all over the US, and a good part of Mexico too (though I don’t remember Mexico so well, other than it being so dirty). I’ve also been to Spain on my own twice and Germany (and a day trip to Luxemborg) once since growing up.  #2 has been even more places over the world.

My favorite places that really stand out are places of natural beauty.

The gardens of the Alhambra. I think the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. In its full mid-summer glory.

The redwood forests.

Mt. Tamalpias– this is where my parents met. We visited many many times growing up.

Mount Shasta for camping.  (#2 hates camping.  And the outdoors.  Mine are all cities.)  (#1 notes:  cabins, running water, toilets, showers)

The Grand Canyon. Vast and deep. Beautiful colors.

Somewhere in the desert along Route 66 there’s a natural cave that sticks strongly in my mind, though I spent much of the tour with a little old lady about my height who kept me back from the railing that was too tall to protect either of us. (My dad often entrusted me to little old ladies when we traveled without my mom.)

Santa Barbara with its constantly perfect weather.

Other places have awesome food.

Little Rock, Ark has the most amazing cake lady at their weekly big market. I’d give a lot for another piece of that cake.

Rowland Heights (and related suburbs) in Los Angeles for my favorite favorite Chinese and related food. Especially shaved ice! I’ve had it other places but it’s been different.

Houston, TX has a great ice cream shop that only has chocolate ice cream. There’s another chocolate shop I really like in Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA.

Luxembourg, for street waffles.

A Vietnamese place in Mountain View, CA.

Valencia, Spain for street helado. Madrid was pretty good too, but I remember it most for this amazing shrimp stuffed salmon with cream sauce.

Anywhere in Europe for croissants.. though we did find one place in California that was almost as good as the average European croissant.

So much Chicago stuffed pizza…  Great places in Chicago.

Did not really care for Disneyland.

Vancouver, BC was gorgeous, so gorgeous, and had extremely delicious Dim Sum.  I admit to being a food wimp in Beijing, though.  I would go back to Hong Kong for fun, though it’s a reeeeeeeeaaaaaaaallllllllllyyyyy long trip.  The Bahamas were ok.

Seattle, oh so nice.  I want to stay in a B&B there for, like, ever.

We both LOVE San Francisco.

Who can forget the soul-sweetening glory of Powell’s City of Books in Portland, OR?  (I would also like to go to Maine some day and PEI in Canada, but this is about the Portland in Oregon.)

Where have you been and what sticks in your mind most?  The good memories, here, not the places where you remember being totally miserable… that’s another post!

[unrelated, but nifty:  We were an editor’s choice in this week’s carnival of personal finance]

Self-serving donations

If you think your child’s education system is lacking something and you’ve got means… why not make a restricted donation?

We’re interested in differentiated independent learning activities for our child’s classroom.  The previous teacher had a ton of them.  We asked the new teacher if she would be continuing the tradition, but it turns out the former teacher is taking a lot of the independent stations she’d bought with her own money throughout the years with her when she goes.

So we offered to make a donation to help the new teacher outfit her class, with a specific emphasis on independent learning activities.  We contacted the teacher first, to make sure she was ok with the idea, and to figure out how best to get her the money so that an equivalent amount of general school money would not be taken away from her classroom for other purposes.  She came back with suggestions:  a listening center with books on CD, scales for math, etc.

We wrote a check for a set amount and allowed her to use it as she saw fit.  We’re not particularly picky with the type of independent learning activities, but if we were, we might talk to the teacher, ask her if it is ok to donate the materials or time etc. to the class, and then do so.  If the money were to be more fungible (that is, if the school were to take away an equivalent amount of money), then we would need to give a gift card or in-kind donations (buying the things she wants directly).

It’s better to ask, “if you’re interested, what can we do to facilitate this?” than “why aren’t you doing this?”  People are more likely to do things if you make it easy for them, if you put your money or time or both where your mouth is.  They’re likely to accept suggestions if you ask them if they’re interested in a spirit of helping, rather than if you take up a combative position.

Even though the gift is self-serving and restricted, if it is being given to a public or non-profit organization, it is still tax-deductible.  And your child will not be the only person to benefit.

(Of course, if you’re not self-serving and just want to help education in general, donorschoose is one of my favorite charities.  Man, I cannot visit that site without giving– this time I gave $25 to a high-poverty school in an inner city whose teacher needed money for independent math learning activities for when her fast students finished their work early, so they wouldn’t have to do more of the same worksheets as a punishment for being done.  How can you say no to that?)

Related:  Guest lecturing at your kid’s school by feMomhist

Do you ever give self-serving donations?

You know you’re from SoCal if

  • You can’t say words that have more than 2 syllables.
  • You ask people questions about their personal life, and they answer!
  • You’re gorgeous.
  • You think you’re fat, but you’re 5’10” and 98 lb.  You also keep telling people that you’re so fat whenever you eat something.
  • You know all the celebrity gossip.  And all the movies that are coming out.
  • Even out-there parents in the rest of the country think your parenting philosophies are weird.
  • You’ve got tons of friends in “the industry.”
  • You complain about being broke while making >$200K/year.
  • People put probabilities on whether or not you’re going to show up and whether or not something is going to happen.
  • You’re often late if you show up at all.  You don’t get upset if folks leave without you.
  • Highways begin with “the”, eg the 101, the 5, the 10 etc.
  • Earthquakes are no big deal.
  • You know not to get in the car when it starts sprinkling.
  • You put on a ski jacket when the temperature reaches 60F.
  • You call that city upstate, “San Fran”

It’s been a few years… what are we missing?

Stinkin Linkin

YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  And all those new marriages will be great for the economy.  Spend it!  (we should note that as of Friday evening, all the comments are rabidly asinine, as well as being homophobic and ignorant.  But otherwise, F*CK YEAH NEW YORK)

An interesting take on the bible and homosexuality from CNN.

Clutter museum explains how Sesame Street is destroying America.  Example:  teaching poor non-white folks how to read.  Apparently somehow that’s the bigotry of soft expectations?  Anyway, F*CK YEAH SESAME STREET

Penny-arcade reminds us fantasy novels are not parenting guides

Mutant Supermodel has returned.  YAY.  And she’s back to posting awesome posts.  Double YAY.  Check out this one on three things you can do to feel better during a divorce or separation.  Again, way better than most of the similar posts I read in O Magazine (it’s linked through CNN, don’t judge me).  Also:  I love my partner to pieces but when he goes out of town I often order Hawaiian Pizza because he believes that fruit and meat do not belong together.

Tell Lindy Mint what she should do with an extra 1 or 2K.

A squid pic from pharyngula.

Squeeeee!  Baby leopards!  So teeny!

Do you think back-up eating is underrepresented in music?  tinycatpants does.

Need healthcare?  Go to jail.

Oh no, Dewey, Cathy is pregnant!  How did that happen?

Barack Obama:  Baby whisperer.

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

Actually, nobody cares

And if they do care enough to condemn you for X, Y, and Z… not only are they not very good friends, or nice people, but they seriously need lives!  And who cares what not nice people who need lives think?

It is a fundamental truth that most people are too busy with their own lives to notice or pass judgment on yours.  Unless you take great effort to point it out.

That is all.

Comments?  Examples?

Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: . 30 Comments »


  • The world seems a little brighter when you have a heating pad.  You know, if your back had been hurting before and stuff.
  • Is one little COL increase so much to ask for?  (Apparently yes.)  ETA:  Two COLAs, please, one each for #1 and #2.
  • Please learn to use email.  Phone tag is not going to work.
  • I spoke truth to power at work the other day.  That was kind of weird.
  • I think we may have to buy new dishware and glassware soon.  DH and DC have had a bad week in that respect.
  • There’s a big name person in my field who introduces himself to me every time we meet.  This wouldn’t be so bad if I hadn’t spent a summer working for him.  At least he’s always impressed with my work when he introduces himself.  Not impressed enough to remember it the next time we meet though.
  • Health insurance out of pocket costs doubled this year.  I hate these real wage cuts.
  • DC’s favorite stuffed animal is the one we got for ~$1500.  Ze calls it, “bead bear” in honor of the event and cuddles with it every night.  Dog, bear, and little bear have all been set aside.
  • Wooeee we sure spent a lot on credit cards last month.  Thousands of dollars of conference fees, airfare etc. for the summer.  It’ll be reimbursed but man do we need that $$ cushion.  (Yes, we can use the university card, BUT new rule says we need permission for the trip before use and it takes a month or more to get permission, so by the time we get permission the airfare costs have skyrocketed.  So we go the pay and reimburse route instead.)
  • My eyelid is twitching uncontrollably.  I really hate when this happens.  Rrrrrr. (#1 says, me too).
  • If you enjoy exercising in 100 degree highly humid weather, well, bully for you.  That does not mean that everybody should or could do it.  There’s a reason the South didn’t grow much in population until the invention of air conditioning.
  • DC’s learning and growth is what DH calls a “punctuated equilibrium.”  All of a sudden we wake up (late) one morning and DC is an inch taller and can do money, time, and addition and subtraction with regrouping as if ze had never had any problem with it.  (Also potentially a new attitude problem of not listening to teachers.  We’re hoping it’s a phase.)  How did that happen?
  • Run DMC says, don’t be a hater.
  • A lot of my most stressful bad dreams take place in airports, where I am trying to catch a plane but being stymied by ongoing hurdles.  I wonder what this says about me.

Adventures in ending cosleeping

Small Town, Red State is very big into self-denial and pain when it comes to parenting.  If it isn’t difficult, you must be spoiling your kid with bad habits.  Especially when it comes to sleeping.  Of course, the bad habits for infants thing is just a myth from Western culture.  Our Babies Ourselves is an awesome book that explains these kinds of issues from an anthropological perspective and shows how sleep and other things happen in different cultures.  Modern western sleeping is very different than the rest of the world and the rest of time.

There’s also biochemical reasons new moms can’t bear to listen to their babies Cry It Out (CIO).  When the baby is is older the scream isn’t so painful, just annoying.  That’s kind of evolution’s way of letting you know that it’s ok to wait a bit.  (Sadly, moms who were CIO too young or neglected when they themselves were young infants can lose this biochemical connection with their own children.  PubMed can be depressing.  Note:  Experts recommend not doing CIO until the baby is at least 6 months old.)

At first I was terrified that my baby would die, so I would not allow cosleeping.  Hard surface with baby monitor (that had a lot of noisy false negatives) only.  Eventually baby fell asleep on dad’s tummy several times in a row and didn’t die, and I relented (also I read about SIDS and cosleeping from the Notre Dame sleep lab and found out we were ok).  We then coslept, which was awesome because I got to cuddle DC, and most importantly, I could nurse when ze got hungry without anybody waking up.  Ze would just grab for the breast and suck.  My sleep cycles matched hirs perfectly (except when routines changed like with growth spurts), and we all got nice amounts of sleep (absent growth spurts, tummy aches, teething etc.).  Eventually ze night weaned but we still coslept.

We transitioned from cosleeping to DC having hir own bed over the course of a week when DC was almost 3 (something like 2 years 9 months) and our bed got too small for the three of us.

It was super easy.  We used Super Nanny technique #2.  We explained to hir about hir own bed, did our bedtime routine (snack, bath, book, ze gets to stay in bed with book).  Night one, one of us laid next to hir.  Night two, one of us sat on the bed.  Night three, one of us sat in a chair next to the bed.  Night four, we moved the chair closer to the door.  Then each consecutive night we got closer to the door until the chair was out.  If ze got fussy, we moved a bit closer– always as far away as hir comfort level would let us.  And that was it.  No more cosleeping.

[Ed:  Update:  DH reminds me that he did one of the nights crouching over DC cuddling and that was moderately painful for him.  I did not have any contortionary problems during my night turns.]

Now ze is about to start kindergarten and does not want to sleep in our bed, does not want us to sleep in hir bed.  It’s funny how possessive ze is.  Occasionally ze comes in for cuddles on Saturday morning but that’s really it.  Even if one of us is traveling and the bed is free, ze just prefers hir own.

We do let hir fall asleep at night whenever ze wants to (sometimes with encouragement from us to turn the light out).  Ze can stay up and read in hir room as late as ze wants, so we don’t have the problem of bedtime delaying tactics.  Sometimes ze even turns hir own light out.

I think the folks with the 10 and 12 year old cosleepers (if they actually exist) are ones for whom cosleeping was always a forbidden treat.  We got lots of warnings about that in the delivery room.  DC is always welcome in our bed for cuddles, ze just prefers hir own.

So that’s the grumpy rumblings how-to on how to get your older cosleeper sleeping in hir own bed.  Totally stolen from Supernanny.   Just one more installment in the Grumpy Rumblings series, “We did everything they say you’re not supposed to do as a parent, mostly from laziness, and yet DC still turned out perfect.”  (See also:  baby food, guilt, potty training, daycare, etc.)

Were there any things you did as a parent that people told you would cause bad habits, but in the end didn’t?

Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: . 68 Comments »

I blame the patriarchy (more and more)

Since starting this blog I’ve become a lot more aware of the patriarchy.  I don’t have any formal feminist training, and not much previous exposure except through #2.  (#2 keeps sending links and rants, though.)

However, working on this blog has put me in contact with a lot of fantastic bloggers who have, through discussions and explanations, opened my eyes.

The problem with being aware of the patriarchy is that it makes me angry.  In the past, when I would come across someone being an -ist asshat, but not an overt -ist asshat, I’d feel that something was wrong and not be able to put my finger on it.  I’d counter any empirical claims that were untrue, but didn’t really understand the structure of why the asshat was making those claims and how even making obviously untrue claims is supporting the patriarchy.

I get a lot more angry these days. I see how the patriarchy is causing guilt, inequality, inferiority and keeping people down.  If I point it out, sometimes I’m silenced, and that makes me angry and sad.

But, at the same time, I wouldn’t ask my eyes to be closed again.  Although I burn more frequently with righteous anger, and complain more to #2 and to my partner… I don’t feel half as insecure about things the patriarchy keeps people insecure about as I used to.  More and more I’m recognizing the cues that are supposed to make me feel bad or guilty and from achieving and I’m rejecting them.  The senior professor for whom I keep quiet about my research because it makes him feel bad that he’s no longer doing research… saving his feelings doesn’t help me, and comes back to bite me when he tells me I’m not living up to my earlier promise.  Nor do I need to let him have the only good RA year after year just because he’s a senior professor and an old white male to boot (especially when the most junior is supposed to get hir first pick…  Update:  he got the good RA anyway.  Asshat.).  That’s just the latest realizations.  It’s not my job to save people’s feelings by denigrating or denying myself.  I don’t have to feel guilty for my work/family/etc. situation.

I conclude with a recent exchange with #2.

me: most of all, you know what I hate?
#2: patriarchy?
me : summer heat
that too
#2: oh, that too
hate hate hate
me: if only we could make the patriarchy stay outside in the heat
“you be useful and mow the lawn”
“that’s a manly thing to do”
#2: ha
me: I will allow the patriarchy to mow my lawn.
#2: fair enough. Since that’s what makes you have to have it instead of xeriscaping like a sane being.
me: exactly

Have you had an eye opening experience like this one?