Ask the Grumpies: Gremlin-cat-mowgli

Rumpus asks

Did you notice that the movie Gremlins could be an allegory about cat ownership if you replace the mogwi with kittens and consider “feeding them after midnight” to mean not spay/neutering and just letting the population grow beyond the bounds of the environment to sustain them?

#1:  No, that honestly had not crossed my mind before…

#2:  I did not notice that, no.  But now that you mention it…

Spay and neuter your pets everyone!  And support spay and neuter programs!



  • The Marriage of Figaro is the best opera ever.
  • Reason # 213 why Hugh Laurie is awesome:  When using an American accent he neither sounds like John Wayne (as British actors of olde) nor the cast of the Jersey Shore (as the actors on Hustle demonstrate is now the default).
  • Some of these students are getting exam problems wrong in a way that would suggest that they had access to the 2007 exam I used as a template.  I’m glad I decided to swap problems…
  • Some of the afternoon section students are getting problems wrong in a way that would suggest they had talked with the morning section students.  I’m glad I decided to swap problems.
  • LM Montgomery totally recycled plots to her short stories.  I only needed to read the “girls in boarding house write Christmas letter to lonely spinster” once, no matter how many details changed (and there’s always one girl who works for the newspaper and is held in awe by the high schoolers).  But I can’t get enough of “poor family gets special Christmas surprise, including toys and turkey, from last minute benefactor.”  Ah Kindle.   Without you I wouldn’t know there was so much repetition.  (I bet someone could get $ ‘recycling’ her stories to Ladies Home Journals even today.)
  • When you move from a working-parent centered daycare to a private school, birthday invitations and parent-kid projects suddenly get a lot more intricate.  I like to think we’re lowering the bar so that other parents don’t feel compelled to be perfect crafters.
  • Oh homophones, though art harsh mistresses.  And why doesn’t this generation not know that you don’t use an apostrophe to make a word plural?
  • I used “no opt out” in class today, basically refusing to take a student’s, “I don’t know” for an answer (and coming down hard on other students who were talking while he tried to figure it out)… and it really worked.  I was worried when he came up to me after class… but he just wanted to explain about what he didn’t understand, so we went through the general concepts again and we agreed that maybe I should cold-call on him  more often so that he has more checks to his understanding, since it makes sense when I say it but not when he tries to apply it.  So he needs more practice applying it.  I followed up “no opt out” with “right is right”– keeping at him until he got the answer exactly perfect.
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What do you do when the offender cries victim?

I’ve noticed recently a trend among folks of saying something completely and totally offensive towards an entire group of people, and then claiming victimhood if someone disagrees.


(This is an old one, but it’s the first time I can recall… no wait, the whole mentioning that Liz Cheney is lesbian is the first time I can actually recall.)
Dick Cheney:  Shoots old man in the face.
General Public: !
Old man: I abjectly apologize for getting shot in the face and causing so much distress to Mr. Cheney.

Perry:  Does not change racially offensive name on lodge.
General Public: !
Perry: It is so hard being an oppressed white man. You have to be soooo careful with this stupid PC stuff, it just isn’t fair.

Poster:  Nobody is allowed to disagree with what I am about to say.  All people who cosleep are child abusers who are unable to get human touch any other way, are unable to be individuals, and are forcing it on their kids.  Also some deeply disturbing stuff about sexuality.
Reply:  I am offended and disagree.  (Also mildly sickened by what is going on in your mind.  That is messed up.)
Poster:  How dare you disagree when I said at the top of the post nobody is allowed to disagree?  I am hurt.

Nature:  Men can do science and women can only shop
All intelligent readers: The 1950s called, they want their stereotypes back
Nature: You are all hysterical, how dare you complain? More proof that women are unsuited to science! Plus if the editor weren’t Jewish you wouldn’t be saying such things. You anti-Semitic jerks.

Poster: WOHM cannot bond with their children.
Reply:  That’s a stupid statement and untrue
Poster:   I demand you apologize.

I know this is a really common tactic among the Rush Limbaughs and Fox Newses of the world.  It looks like other folks are picking it up too.

There’s even a name for it.

It irritates me.

What do you think is the best reaction once they have claimed victimhood?  How do you react?

Dropping it seems to allow the person to continue their spreading of vitriol unchecked.  Pushing back even more allows them to milk the victim card even more.  How about directly addressing the claim of victimhood?  “Really, you just compared an entire group of people to Nazis and now *you’re* claiming to be the victim?”

Is baking a *thing* where you are?

Femomhist recently posted a link to a ridiculous NYT debate about all the issues surrounding the vitally important topic of people buying baked goods instead of baking them for school fundraising bake-sales.

I’ll let you digest that thought for a moment.  I can wait.

The NYTimes is always talking about mothers and baking.  And buying baked goods.  And faking store-bought baked goods so they look like they’re home-made.  And should mothers feel guilty for not baking.  And do mothers who bake make other mothers who don’t bake feel guilty for existing.  (And always mommy guilt– dads are somehow exempt, but that’s another gripe.)  And so on and so forth.  I read these narratives on the internet too– on blogs and on mommy forums.

I ask you, gentle readers, when did baking get to be a *thing*?  When did it become some sort of archetype or symbol or whatever it has become?  When did a cookie stop being just a cookie?

And actually, I further ask, is it a *thing* away from the internet?  Like, IRL?  And if so, is it a *thing* outside of NY or LA?

My thought has generally been:
yummy > effort => bake
effort > yummy => don’t bake

Growing up in the midwest, I don’t remember baking being anything other than a way to get baked goods.  We had a lot of box mix brownies and cupcakes.  Chocolate chip cookies from scratch.  Yummy stuff, but not a measure of anyone’s true worth.  I remember some church bake sales that were just out of this world, but that was a previous generation of retired ladies making those wonders.

I can tell you it wasn’t a thing around normal people when I was an impoverished grad student in an expensive coastal city.  Not that I hung around many mothers at that point in time.  My partner and I both baked a lot because we had time, no money, and juuuust the right amount of stress; baking provides a sweet spot in terms of stress relief for my partner.  There’s something especially calming about kneading bread.  We were very popular with the administrative assistants at our schools.  Everyone seemed pretty happy about getting homemade baked goods, but they didn’t seem to merit any sort of saint-hood or obligation or whatevs.  Of course, we had not reproduced at that time, so maybe I just missed out.

Here, people don’t make things from scratch.  Sometimes they make things from mixes.  Our baked goods that were smashing successes in the coastal city aren’t as popular as stuff from the stores because tastes here run much sweeter.  People probably prefer the store-bought stuff because they don’t actually have to see how much sugar they’re putting into it!  And, I’m not sure that just plain sugar can get things as sweet as people want.  Baking is definitely not a symbol of anything except maybe being a little bit of a health nut.  But people are polite about it, even if homemade stuff doesn’t disappear as quickly as storebought.  And to be honest, other than the tooth-numbing sweetness, the cakes at the grocery stores around here are way better than cakes most parts of the country.  I just wish they put butter in their pie crust– texture is more important than flavor in these parts when it comes to pie dough; their pies are super flaky.

Anyhow, the point is, if I didn’t spend too much time on the internet and occasionally reading the NYTimes I would have no idea that whether I baked or not had anything to do with how many mommy points I’ve racked or how much hate I’m supposed to be getting from other mommies.  I’m pretty sure that IRL nobody cares.  If the cookies are good, they’re appreciated.  If they’re not sweet enough they’re politely nibbled at and there’s more left for us.  But nobody comments on how they wish they had time to bake or how guilty they feel for not baking or how amazing it is that we bake.  They either comment on the cookies being good, or they politely ask if they’re healthy.

Maybe if people on the internet ate more yummy baked goods, they’d spend less time psychoanalyzing them.

So:  Is baking a *thing* for you?  Is it a *thing* where you are?  Do you enjoy it when other people bake?  Is someone else baking showing off and thus a personal affront to one’s femininity/fitness as a mother, as so many of these bloggers suggest?  (And why is it never a personal affront to one’s fitness as a father?)

[Disclaimer:  The pregnant one of us is not allowed to eat sugary/non-glycemically-balanced foods until she delivers.  She dreams of brownies and male chocolate chip cookies, but does not often get to eat them, even in her dreams.  They taunt.  But that’s a different kind of *thing*.]

Christmas gifts

Lotsa people talking about giftcards and cash… are they tacky, are they appreciated, and so on.  Here’s Donna Freedman on the subject, and here’s Graceful Retirement.  Also GRS.

We do all of the above, and presents too, and we think there are good and thoughtful reasons to give cash or a gift card.  Sure, sometimes they’re the equivalent of bath salts, but sometimes they really are the best present.

We gave cash to:

Brother and sister-in-law #1 because they just had an offer accepted on a house… and we know how unexpected expenses tend to crop up when you buy a house, especially those first couple of months.  If they don’t need it for an unexpected expense, they can use it for tchotchkes.

Relative with the passel of kids who is bad with money.   Every year we say we’re not going to, and then every year we end up doing it anyway.  This year it was the burst appendix of kid #4 that was the straw that made me write a check.  DH almost suggested purchasing a chastity belt with it in the enclosed card (very funny story there… assuming it wasn’t *your* daughter as female lead), but thought better of it.

We gave gift cards to:

Father-in-law because his favorite activity in the world is shopping for his hobby.  And my mother-in-law prefers he not spend all their money on that.

Brother-in-law #2 because we asked his wife what to get him and she said that his favorite gift ever was an Amazon gift certificate.  That’s easy.

My  mother because there is nothing she likes more than shopping at our bookstore when she comes to visit.  It’s what she asks for.  It keeps her happy in our boring small town.

Grandmother-in-law #1 because she’s on a small fixed income and she likes to buy things for people and is sad when she can’t afford to.  A giftcard to Walmart helps her do that, or just get things for herself.

DC’s teachers because cash would be weird and we understand teachers like gift cards.

We gave presents to:

SIL #2 got a cookbook to go with her new crockpot and a subscription to audible.  MIL got a professional book she’s been wanting and another thing.  The little cousins got various books and toys.  My sister got ballet tickets and backstage passes to enjoy with DC.  My father got a bottle of fancy rum.  Grandmother-in-law #2 we already talked about (MIL says she got her copy last week.)  The other half of the blog is getting an assortment of goodies from her Amazon wishlist… some things she really wanted and some I selfishly think she should have.

What kinds of things are you getting for folks?  Are you avoiding any of the above categories in your giving or receiving?

Link Love

Kashmir Hill explains why writing an intentionally racially insensitive post makes money for the author based on Forbes’ compensation scheme.

Femomhist’s son is pretty cool.  Square pegs out to change the world!

Proflikesubstance tweets his vasectomy.  For realz.

Fie upon this quiet life with 11 truths she has learned so far on the TT.  Also, her health insurance is obnoxious about birth control.  My grad school didn’t cover mine but did not have a religious excuse.  IBTP.

Remember these?  Don’t be silly, protect your willie!  (I wish I could relate the story that caused us to look this up… let’s just say we were wondering how to keep [specific] teenagers from getting pregnant and STDs.)

Speaking of birth control, the blog that ate manhattan gives us a visualization of the clot risks between the patch and the pill and, you know, pregnancy.

Cute overload!  That one of us is not allowed to watch until she’s done grading.

Shiny steampunk!

Giant Lizard!

Google Questions answered

Q:  is the minority really the majority?

A:  By definition, no.

Q: am i made to work harder because i’m a young white male

A:  No… you’re being made to work harder than you think you should be because you grew up entitled and not understanding how much other folks have to work.  Lazy-asses tend to have victim mentality and think they’re working harder when actually they’re barely average (if that).  Privileged folks with the victim mentality also tend to be less bright and less empathetic than the average person as well.  Because if they had better awareness, they wouldn’t be blaming their privilege for not giving them the privilege they’re actually getting.  (Unless you’re talking about being more challenged in school– then yes, there’s evidence showing that white male school children are asked more difficult questions and given more time to figure out an answer before being given the answer, especially in math and science classes.  It’s what we call the “soft bigotry of low expectations” for girls and minority children.)

Q:  how to pay debts without a job?

A:  u can always find money but not a family i love my parents

No, wait… I don’t think random googler has the best answer there.  Though getting a family loan is possible, as is moving in with family in some situations (but obviously not all).  1.  Sell your STUFF.  2.  Sign up for public programs for which you qualify (do you qualify for unemployment? food stamps?)  3.  Call your creditors and tell them the situation– ask for forbearance.  4.  Try for any kind of odd job you can get (assuming it doesn’t conflict with unemployment benefit retirements if you qualified for them in #2), temp agencies, pet sitting, cleaning etc. 5.  Cut your spending– you should be back to rice and beans.

Q:  what do you think about reading

A:  We are pro-

Q:  are you grumpy when your sick?

A:  YES.  Also mopey.  And annoying.

Q:  if i work more, should my partner do more housework?

A:  That is something that must be decided on a partner-by-partner basis, especially if there are children involved.  If this is an item of contention, you may want to spend some of your income hiring outside help.

Q:  why kids these days work harder than you did in high school

A:  They don’t.  If you mean you instead of me, then I hate to say it, but you kind of had the reputation for being a slacker back then.  I’m surprised nobody told you…

Q:  do only people in new england say wicked

A:  No.  Also people in Oz.   (By which we do not mean down undah, but rather the Land of.)  They mean something different by it.  A more literal interpretation.

Q:  why banned books are a waste money

A:…. well, some of them suck.  But many of them are a good use of money.  Some of them you may want to check out of your library before deciding on whether or not to spend moneys.

Q:  what role do ethics play in market efficiency

A:  None.

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