Googled Questions Revealed!

Oh internet, what would you do without our wisdom?  Here’s answers to things you didn’t know but wanted to.

Q:  how to get rid of all your stuff and travel

A:  Wow, you really came to the wrong blog.  You will have to pry our filled bookcases out of our cold dead hands.  We recommend checking out ramble-crunch’s blog instead.

Q:  can hoa inspect indoor cat

A:  We hope not.  That’s the kind of thought that almost makes us support the NRA.

Q:  i wonder what else can do if don’t talk about food

A:  sex?  eat? um…. music?  I guess if you’re from the midwest you can spend a lot of time talking about the weather.

Q:  are all academics crazy?

A:  No.  But a lot of them do seem to be, eh?

Q:  do people not work as hard after tenure

A:  Ask us again in a couple of years and we’ll let you know!  (If we’re lucky.)

Q:  do people who live in a igloo have morgages

A:  They pay for everything with cold hard cash.  HAHAHAHA.

Q:  how to get out of debt with a minimum wage job

A:  Try to get promoted or to find another job where you make more money.  Stay away from check cashing places– their short-term loans will keep you in debt the rest of your life.  Other than that, beans and rice, rice and beans… find cheap food.  Get on whatever government programs you are eligible for.  Call all your debt places and bargain down for lower interest rates.  Read Dave Ramsey.

Q:  how to stop feeling guilty catholic

A:  We’re still working on this one!

Q:  arguments for locking up pregnant women

A:  Where do you people COME from??!?!  The internet is a scary scary place.

Q:  should i feel bad for having a nicer car than my parents?

A:  Why?

Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: . 5 Comments »

Ponderings on Nature and its misogynistic stance

So with this whole Nature thing…  (You know, the one where one of the most well-known scientific research journals published a sexist story straight out of the 1950s… and now says they did nothing wrong, women have no sense of humor (except their wives), and they’re getting uptight over nothing etc. (Bingo!), and how dare women personally attack sexist asshats by calling them out etc.  Despite the well-written and polite explanations of how they are, in fact, doing harm by publishing a sexist story in what is one of the most well-known scientific research journals.  Etc.)

I’ve noticed in the comments that when a male feminist says something, the sexist asshats in general ignore him.

If they don’t ignore him, they’re at least a little polite to them.

When a female feminist says something without mincing words, they attack her.

When a female feminist says something couched in stereotypical female language (I’m sorry … I don’t mean to say… I don’t mean to offend you… etc.), they attack her.

UNLESS straight-talking female feminists have already said their bit, in which case the asshat praises her for her soft language.  Not like those other bitches.


Why is Nature doubling down on misogyny?

1. Because they can.
2. Because the men there are insecure and this is the only way that they can feel superior. So they’re taking every advantage that they can to keep women down.

We’re just flabbergasted that in this day and age OVERT sexism is still being countenanced at something that is (was?) supposed to be a top research journal.  While we’re not surprised that there’s still sexism, we are surprised that something like this is not only being allowed, but is so strongly encouraged by the establishment.  Generally at this point a statement has been released by the establishment saying that sexism will not be countenanced and the matter is being looked into.  The fact that even that hasn’t happened is dispiriting.

Many of our readers are more expert on feminism and the way these jerks keep women down.  Do you have any explanations for us?  And how can they be countered?  What is the best action for people to take?

Confidential to Ed Rybicki:  We know you’re going to hit our comment section because you google your name every day and this confidential is going to show up.  Therefore we are going to direct you to this post.  We apologize in advance for your clueless response to our post somehow not getting fished out of the spam filter… we’ve read your same clueless paragraph on so many different blogs at this point that we don’t really need to see it again.  Haven’t you done enough harm already?  Don’t you have some “science” to do?  We don’t care about your apology, but we are eagerly awaiting Nature’s.  Also, you haven’t hit Paul Anderson’s blog, despite his post being quoted (and linked to) all over places you’ve been.  We suspect it’s because you think he can beat you up.

You don’t get to tell other people how to spend their money

Every Christmas and birthday since we’ve had a child, DH’s parents have gone crazy with presents for DC.  They must spend something around $1K over the course of the year (including Halloween, Easter, etc.) on fun toys and clothing.  They give more than I ever got from all sources when I was growing up.  At first it was a bit overwhelming and we worried about rampant consumerism, but we adjusted to it and DC is still a sweetheart so we’re fine.

I mentioned this on the GRS forum the other day when the post was asking how much people spend on Christmas.  We don’t spend much on Christmas– the grandparents crowd out our own spending so we just fill up the stocking.  Someone was shocked and suggested that we sit down and have a talk with the in-laws and ask them to give money to DC’s 529 college saving plan instead if they’re going to go overboard like that.

Thing is, you don’t get to tell other people how to spend their money.  They want to spend money on toys, not on education.  That’s ok.  It makes them happy.  We don’t feel the need to pick out toys ourselves so we take the money we would have spent on holidays and clothing (and actually quite a bit more than that) and put it in the 529.  We can do that.  We appreciate their generosity.

It might be different if we were needy– we might say, gee, toys are great but we’d really love to be able to give our kids a great Christmas dinner or to be able to travel to see the relatives or afford after-school care.  But we’re not.  We can fund our own kid’s education, we can give hir the necessities, and we have no business telling other folks what to spend their money on.  If they want to buy toys that make noise, so be it.  We just won’t buy gifts ourselves (and we may fail to buy batteries…).

Now, we don’t have to actually give all the toys to DC, and (shhhh), sometimes we don’t.  Sometimes a small subset goes straight to the gift-closet to be regifted at parties, especially if we already have a copy of the item or it’s something we disapprove of (DH is anti-weapon-toys, but many other parents aren’t).  We don’t get to tell other people what to spend their money on, but we can decide what our child is allowed to play with.

That’s pretty much Miss Manners’ rules too.  You don’t get to tell people what to give.  They don’t get to tell you what to do with the gift.  Nobody is a jerk about it.  And those are the rules of polite society.  They’re working well for us.

Do you “suffer” from this first-world problem?  Have you ever had a conversation about it as the giver or the giftee?  Did it go over well?

Link Love

Leight PF discusses whether or not it’s ok if your house depreciates in value.

The tightrope with some more discussion about this whole Nature being misogynistic thing.  I’m disappointed with how Nature appears to be doubling down on the misogyny as if it is their God Given right to put women in their place, and yet people are letting the issue drop.  It’s not our field, but it’s also not the kind of thing we want spreading to other professions.  Another good collection of the obnoxious comment tropes by Janet Stemwedel.  Yes, we seem less than patient when trying to explain for the Nth time because N is a very large number.

What has stayed in the news is the pepper spraying of students at UC Davis.  We totally stole this link from ianqui.  Hilarious amazon reviews of pepper spray.

Scalzi’s daughter has an awesome shirt.  Also our cat hasn’t done this with a lamp yet, but that’s probably about the only thing she hasn’t done it to.

Play fight repeat discusses one of our favorite books, Mindset.

Walking octopus explained by scientific american.

It’s like the people who make kitteh items don’t have kittehs.  In what world would this actually work?  (And how did they get the cats to stay long enough to take pictures?)

FT magazine with libraries of writers.

As always, we love CPP and his insightful commentary.

Also check out the links to the side for a new Simon’s Cat video!  Now including kitten!

Ask the grumpies: Octopodes

Rumpus asks

You like pictures of octopi. Is there a consideration of buying one? Or is that too expensive, too much work, too cruel, whatever? It creeps me out how well they can camouflage…and that video of one grabbing a shark was freaky. I’m not sure I’d let one in the house, I hear some like to play pranks.

#1:  I do not want to buy one.  They are too smart for me to keep as a pet.  They are escape artists and very curious.  Also, running a saltwater tank is muy expensive and lots of hard work.

#2:  Too much work for me.  Kittehs are about where I’m at.

What do you all think of octopus ownership?

What are you thankful for?

Happy American Thanksgiving!

We are thankful for:

1.  Family
2.  Food
3.  Money
4. kittehs
5. zooborns
6. break
7. loving homes to critters
8. the luxury of keeping a tiny predator for my own amusement
9. books
10. sleep
11. my wonderful partner who is the bestest
12. that I get along with my in-laws so well. In fact I probably get along with them better than my own parents. They never had to raise me or discipline me, so we don’t have all tons of baggage and whatnot. It’s just a mutual love-fest.
13. coffee
14. naps
15. having a tenure-track job and a big nice house that is cheap to rent/buy
16. Library Thing
17. being awesome

There are many things we are thankful for. The internet, for example, because it lets us talk with all of you! (Well, that and, you know, Amazon.)

What are you thankful for?

Tiny rant on students who can’t quite go the full mile

We were discussing this the other day.

Some students can’t quite seem to seal the deal on getting their excrement together.

DH’s students need a lab kit.  The students run a parts store that puts together and sells lab kits.  They are open odd hours and run out more frequently than they ought to.  However, these parts are available at several hobby stores in town.  DH requires that they have their lab kits by the second week of school, and if they can’t get a pre-made kit from the student store then they need to assemble one on their own from another store.  Somehow, the same students show up to lab without kits through the *middle of the semester*.  They always seem to check the parts store *just* when they run out of parts.  Why haven’t they given up and just hit a hobby store?  They didn’t think of it despite DH’s repeat reminders.  DH suspects they just don’t want to spend money.

We have weekly or monthly homework.  Sometimes it requires downloading something, a paper, an assignment sheet.  How often has a student said on the due date that ze couldn’t download something necessary for an assignment?  Far too many times for us.  You had a week/month!  If you had a technical problem you should have addressed it a long time ago, not when the assignment was due.  Plus, all your classmates (who did not have trouble downloading for whatever reason) have a copy– you could have gotten it from them!

I had a student who missed class for a family emergency (nothing dire– there was some weather and they had to clean up from the aftermath).  I told him no problem, he could attend the other section to do the in-class exercise he missed, but he was going to have to get notes for the lecture since the other section had already had it, and the in-class exercise would make *no sense* without the lecture notes.  All week I reminded him every time we passed in the hallway and he said he was about to get the notes from a specific classmate.  Well, she wasn’t able to meet him on time, so he got to class without any idea what the in-class assignment was about, and suggested that perhaps he should skip it.  I noted that there were many students taking this required class (and he has contact info for at least 3 other people since I make them exchange information on day 1), why didn’t he get notes from a different student?  He said he hadn’t seen any students in his class.  He had no idea where he could get notes from anybody.  I noted that there were 30 people in the classroom he was sitting in *right now* who had those notes.  He could ask one of them.  He hadn’t thought of that.

The student printer has had a spotty working history for about 10 years now.  It is *known* that you should print off what you need at least a day in advance to ensure that you get your thing on time.  (If the printer is broken again, you can go to the IT department and they’ll print for you– but *not* instantaneously.)  Five minutes before class is not the time to discover that the printer is broken *again*.  Just assume it will be broken.

Are they just lazy, or do they really think if they have this excuse they’ll get a bye for doing less work?

We call on other professors not to enable these folks!

Pregnancy after a loss

I’m afraid to schedule this post.  I’ll update it if I miscarry before Tuesday… it won’t have to be changed much.

As of now I am in the very early stages of a pregnancy.

The first time I got pregnant it was after more than a year and a half of fertility treatment.  I had a monitored clomid cycle (my eggs popped out later than normal) and an IUI.  I got a negative 14 days after ovulation, but a positive a bit after that.  Rising betas, and suddenly I miscarried at 7 weeks.  I’d eaten white bread at a conference the night before.  My reproductive endocrinologist (RE) only believed in Metformin at 500ml, even though the literature has found 1500ml to be effective in getting the early miscarriage rate of women with PCOS to match that of normal women.  Maybe it was just a chromosome abnormality.  I take comfort in the fact that I will never know, but only because I have proof now that I can bring a baby to term; at the time I did not.

Miscarriage is the worst thing that has ever happened to me.  Loss of a wanted pregnancy is a horrible wrenching pain.  I lost a child.

I bled and stopped, I bled again and stopped again.  My betas went down like they were supposed to.  I upped my metformin to 1500 just in case, behind the doctor’s back.  I had a horrific time on a trip when I needed my last beta checked out of town… I had a breakdown because even though we’d set everything up in advance, and were supposed to get the ok with everything someone messed up somewhere and we spent 20 or 30 min trying to deal with the insurance lady when finally we realized if we just gave them $80 in cash they would stop asking me questions.  So we did.  I almost divorced my perfect husband that day.

The RE office wanted us to take a month off from trying (use protection!), then a provera challenge, and then another clomid cycle.  We weren’t sure if we wanted to keep trying.  But since I didn’t cycle by myself I figured I might as well start the provera challenge and then decide given some time.  So I took one of my remaining 40-odd mail order pregnancy tests because you’re supposed to check just in case before taking provera.  There may have been an evaporation line but it was hard to tell so I delayed provera… I wasn’t in a hurry to make the decision so any excuse to delay was fine with me.  The next day it looked less like an evaporation line and more like a faint line.  By that Monday the line was a real line and I called the RE office.  Despite having told us not to try, our tech was excited for me.

I wasn’t ready.  I was in shock.  I didn’t believe it.  I had just bought $600 of professional work clothing literally two days before.  I still hadn’t gone through the stages of grief with my first baby.  I had anger, guilt, and most of all, fear.  I did not want to lose this one.

I took pregnancy test (HPT) after pregnancy test until they drove me crazy with their increases and decreases in darkness.  Turns out my second morning urine is actually the best… has something to do with acidity in some women’s urine.  The ovulation prediction kits (OPK) were much more comforting since they only got darker.  Eventually DH suggested I get rid of the lot so I would stop freaking out so much and I sent them to a friend who was also trying to conceive (along with DH’s leftover Fertility Blend for Men).

I went in and got the blood tests… at 7 weeks I saw the heartbeat… and our child was eventually born.  It was a few months after ze was born before I believed ze wouldn’t just suddenly die.

There was a weird sort of cognitive dissonance for me.  Initially, I was so very afraid of loss, I was afraid to bond with the baby.  But the winning emotion was the thought that each week was another week longer that I got to spend with my precious baby.

Pregnancy after a loss can be frightening.  I didn’t buy any baby items until two and a half weeks before my due date, and even then sent out my mom and husband with a credit card.  We never did get around to buying a crib– we got a pack in play and were going to get a crib when ze hit 3 months but ended up cosleeping instead.

It’s hard to enjoy pregnancy when you think it might be taken from you.  Terrible side effects are a huge comfort because they indicate that the baby is probably still there.  Whenever ze would get still in the calmer second trimester, I would have to drink some orange juice just to make sure ze will still alive and could kick.

I’m worried now.  I’ll be less worried when I see a heartbeat (or maybe just hear it… I’m not sure how the u/s technology is in our small town), and less worried when the baby is born, and probably less worried still when ze is mobile.  And in kindergarten.  And I’m scared… not of the life changes or the increased expenses or time for our oldest… those worries are too far down the line to even dream of.  Almost every moment of the day is spent wondering and wishing and hoping and praying.  I’m afraid to plan too much ahead, afraid to complain, afraid to take anything for granted.  This time around I don’t have a box of OPK or HPT… just the occasional overpriced plastic thing from the drugstore.  (Hint:  ept sucks, go with first response instead.  Pink dye is easier to read than blue.)  Will I have another baby?  I still don’t know.  I hope so.

Here is a list of things not to say to someone who has had a miscarriage.  #2 *always* said the right thing.

The WOH/SAH decision: Finances

First off:  for the nth time, no you do not need a SAHP in order to have a kid.

The Get rich slowly forum seems to be full of people like my rigid Uncle and his evil SAHM wife who lectured me at my grandmother’s funeral about how horrible it was that I was staying in the labor force (meanwhile, one of their teenage daughters desperately tried and failed to get caught by her parents smoking pot and cigarettes).

They say, “If you cannot afford to have one parent (the mother) stay at home with the kids, you should not be having children.”  They say, “It is too expensive to send your kids to a day orphanage/baby farm.  You cannot properly bond with your babies.”  (Actually, it’s only one nutty chick who says the latter and the first time she said it I thought she was being sarcastic… the nth time I’ve realized she’s just a troll.)

The strong research evidence is that moms who both work and send their kids to daycare bond just as strongly as moms who stay at home with their kids.  Throughout time mothers have shared child-rearing in groups rather than solo.  The one adult-with children model is not natural or normal.  It takes a village to raise a child, something that most SAHP realize, the difference being that money generally does not exchange hands in a playgroup or for informal care from relatives.  I haven’t seen research on father’s bonding because nobody seems to care (or because it’s harder to get working dads into the lab), but I bet you when both spouses work the father is more likely to bond than when he’s working 80 hour weeks to bring in money.  So, just to get that out of the way you’re not doing irreparable harm to your kid by putting hir in daycare, and daycare has benefits for the kid just like SAHP has benefits.  They’re different benefits, but one isn’t necessarily better than another.

Anyhow!  This is a Monday money post so the focus here is on the money aspect.

1.  Point in time cost-benefit analysis:  One argument is that the lower-earning spouse needs to do a point-in-time cost-benefit analysis of work income compared to the cost of daycare.  In this include not only the money going to daycare, but also commuting costs (assuming you’re not going to be driving everywhere as a SAHP, which is not necessarily a great assumption if you want to stay sane), professional clothing, etc. (or minus the cost of boredom-induced shopping if you turn into a Gymboree mom just to get out of the house).  They argue that if it costs more to work than it does to pay for daycare, then don’t work.  This argument makes some sense, especially if there are multiple pre-school age children and you’re not working a job that you particularly enjoy.  If you *do* enjoy your job, you should factor that into your equation since we should be maximizing happiness instead of money.  If you *don’t* enjoy your job, then maybe now is a good time to retool and think about your next career moves, regardless of your fertility.  So the idea is:


Cost of work – cost of daycare + happiness from working – disutility from working > Cost of staying at home + happiness from staying at home – disutility from staying at home, then you should continue to work.  If the sign flips, then you should stay at home.  This formula is incomplete– move on to #2.

2.  Add in Net Present Value of Lost Opportunities.  The point-in-time cost-benefit analysis is not where you should stop, however.  When you leave the labor force, you lose what economists call “human capital”– this is the abilities you get from working.  It comes in firm-specific human capital or all the things that make you valuable to a specific company, and general human capital or the things that make you valuable to the labor force as a whole.  When you leave the labor force, you start to forget how to do things and you stop keeping up with how the company, the industry, the workforce etc. are changing.  You get left behind.  That means when you restart in the labor force, you are likely to start at a lower (inflation-adjusted) salary than when you left — not the salary you would have with raises had you stayed in the field, not even the same salary as before with a 2 year gap, but an actual lower salary.  Add to that, if you are in a career-type job, specifically one that is not female-dominated (unlike nursing or teaching), you can be “mommy tracked” or have an even more uphill battle to be taken seriously in your career.  These problems will be worse in some fields and some specific jobs than in others.

So in this case you would have to take the same equation as above, but include the Net Present Value of your future benefits (this is your future income streams) instead of your single-year income alone.  You will compare your predicted future income with the work gap and without.  How do you predict your future income with and without?  Well, that’s difficult to do, but perhaps you have some ideas of career trajectories in your area.  Included in that calculation will be the probability that you get rehired, and the probability that you’ll be put back on the same track rather than forced to downshift if you return after an absence.

3.  Include Benefits, not just salary:  Don’t forget the value of lost retirement benefits that your company is paying for you when you make your calculations.  Are there other fringe benefits you should be considering?

4.  Risk:  What if the main earner loses his (or hir) job?  Many couples take turns being unemployed in this labor force, regardless of whether they are white collar or working class.  How secure is your partner’s job?  What would you do if ze lost it?  How quickly could either of you find work, and at what level?  A sizable emergency fund (or a dividend stream providing enough income to make you independently wealthy) can reduce the risk.  But if you don’t have that, having a second income and a second career to fall back on can dramatically reduce the stress of a lengthy job loss.

5.  Risk II:  Divorce or Widowhood:  What will you do if your spouse leaves you and isn’t good about paying child support?  What if the unimaginable happens and you’re left a widow or widower?  Do you have enough of your own resources to get through a divorce and its aftermath without a job?  Does your working spouse have enough life insurance to keep you and your children afloat until you can get back into the labor force yourself?

6.  Time to change careers?:  Are you thinking about a career change anyway?  If so, a break from the labor force may not be as damaging to your future income and future career.  You may want to spend some of your time out of the labor force retooling if you can get time away from child-care to explore education or new career options.

Before you take the plunge:

1.  Read Your Money or Your Life to help think about how your  career, job, and money fit into your life.

2.  Try living on one income (that of the spouse who will be working once the child is born) before the baby comes.  Doing so will help you understand what it means to have your income reduced (yes, some things will change, you’ll have more time to cook or grocery shop… though probably not anywhere near as much time as you think as babies are pretty exhausting, but you will also have increased expenses you that may balance that out– like paying for family health insurance rather than dual single insurance).  More importantly, living on one income will help you build up a large emergency fund that you almost certainly will need to tap at some point during your child’s early years.

Remember that being a stay at home parent is a form of financial independence.   It is not a bad or a good thing, it’s just a thing.  Make these calculations through the lens of financial independence– how much sacrifice do you want to make for temporary early retirement?  How will this decision fit into the rest of your life?

Link Love

What is a chicken boomer?  Now you know.  From femme frugality.

An excellent article on how crazy we should let our jobs become from Dr. Crazy.

Cloud reminds us that you’re less likely to be oppressed if you don’t marry a douche.  Only she puts it more positively– marry a unicorn instead, they actually do exist.  (Personally I think the unicorn density is higher in the engineering fields.)

Lord hear our prayer for mid-November from Girl Scholar.

Dame Eleanor laments on kids today blaming the victim.

The Hermitage with excellent advice for students on how to write an email.

My (white male, published in Science) colleague the other day was explaining to me that the journal Nature kind of sucks and he’s never felt the need to send any articles there.  Dr. Isis provides more proof on how Nature is behind the times and stupid.  Paul Anderson with a fantastic comment.  Update:  Apparently the author of the piece is going around and posting nasty and/or clueless stuff under sock-puppet names in the comments of the places discussing this piece.  So if you were wondering, “are there really so many clueless jerks in science”– maybe there aren’t quite as many as you thought there were… you only need the one to make multiple anonymous comments.

Savvy working gal with some tips about Social Security.