But I *deserve* to get a loan

We read an argument on a public finance blog of a 20-something recently.  It went something like this:  I’m a good credit risk, even though I have a lot of consumer debt.  I’ve never failed to pay back a personal loan.  Therefore people are being selfish not lending money to me.

If you think there’s nothing wrong with the above argument, here’s something we would like to say to you.  THE WORLD DOES NOT REVOLVE AROUND YOU.  Sometimes people would prefer to keep their own money and not lend it to you, whether or not you’re a good credit risk.  That’s their business.

Mature adults do their best to have emergency funds and low enough expenses so that they don’t have to borrow money from others.  It might be one thing if you had a sudden medical emergency, and even then, generally working a payment plan out with the hospital is the best idea (since they will usually cut the balance), or a temporary car problem making it difficult to get to work… but you have consumer debt and you don’t want to live on rice and beans while you’re getting rid of it?  Or you want to buy a house but haven’t saved a down-payment?  Suck it up.

We get these kinds of students in class on a pretty regular basis.  At least we’re not related to them!


Link love

Femomhist with her delightful rundown on Death at Pemberly.

Who says legos aren’t for girls?  Geeky mom blog’s girls are lego winners.

Speaking of Austen times, if you ever wondered what gout looks like, wonder no more.

Tiger beatdown discusses the TX abortion law.

Ianqui asks whether you call yourself a professor or a disciplinist.

A PSA from profgrrrl.

We recently discovered randsinrepose via a link off Wandering Scientist.  This post really struck a chord with both of us.  We may do a full post on it later after #2 has a conversation with her partner.  I will relate the IM conversation #1 had here:

#1: “Don’t get too comfortable because he’ll move on, and, when that happens, you’ll be wondering what happened to all the attention.”
is that TRUE???
Partner: yes. but you are always in my “relevant” filter
you and I have already passed that before we got married
or possibly a better way to think about it is that I don’t think I’ll ever lose that sense of wonder about you. I find you fascinating.

The first response is TOTAL NERD.  The third response is why we’ve been together for so long (SMOOOOOTH).  The second response is probably just demonstrating our midwestern pragmatism.

What was I doing with some dear student letters.

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

Suggest the color of my parachute?

Dear Grumpy Readers…

I have always, always wanted to be a professor.  I never trained for anything else, nor wanted to!  But now… Please help me brainstorm about jobs out of academia that I might be able to do without wanting to die.  Not in a cubicle.  Not dependent on grant funding.  Preferably with benefits.  Any ideas?  I don’t necessarily need health insurance (I could get on my partner’s, potentially), but I still need to fund my retirement and get sick days.  I worked in a bank for a while and it was hellacious.

Sometimes I take career inventories or similar tests… they always come out “professor”.  Always.

#2 suggests freelancing, and I think that’s probably the way to go.  Not that that’s a steady income.  Some quick googling turns up infinite scummy gross websites where “freelance” means “write your homework paper for you”

 #2:  Why don’t we ask the blog?
 #1:  we should, probably.  Working  9-5, 5 days a week makes me want to DIE, as do cubicles.  I know, because I tried it for a year [not the bank job, a different job].  In 12 months my body never got used to the morning schedule and I was never able to learn how to concentrate in a cube, headphones notwithstanding.
#2:  librarian?
 #1:  their job market is bleaker than academia and I would need to get even more degrees… and lower paid, too.  Also, “librarian” doesn’t mean “work with books”.  It mostly means “deal with whiny patrons, or computer programming, or both”.  I love books.  I hate people.
#2:  Courtesan?
#1:  I could be a courtesan if I liked making small talk with strangers, which I don’t.
 I really want nothing social.  Preferably not working with people.
P.S. I have very few marketable skills and I want to sleep and read novels ALL THE TIME.  I’m really bad at being a grownup.  I think I might need a personality transplant.
#2: but really, soft money and a big emergency fund. Working part time, in SF.
#1:  I really think that would give me ulcers, not knowing if I would have an income the next year or not. And my track record with getting grants is not great.
I dunno what to do with my life.  if only this school weren’t so hideous, I really want to have tenure and be a faculty member and do research.  But the teaching?  I don’t know if I can do this for 40 more years.
#2:  after tenure can you care less about teaching?
#1:  yes, but I still have to do it. With how much I hate it, I wonder if it’s sustainable on my stress level. I probably just need therapy for the rest of my life in order to realize how to grow up and be an adult and do  a job I don’t always love because that is adulthood.
#2: if it were fun they wouldn’t pay you to do it
and the question is– is there a job you hate equally that pays more!
#1:  yeah, the problem is balancing the fact that I want money to live comfortably with the hatred of all work that feels like it is sucking out my soul but in reality nobody ever died from that.
My dream job is still academia.  I just need to be at a different school.  This is probably a separate post, but I’m feeling that I’m really not fitting in with the mission of this school and this college.  I have workload issues and specific administrator issues.  I feel like my scholarship isn’t respected here because it doesn’t fit with the mission.  Further, the location depresses me.
So, readers… help!  What should I do?  Nothing in a cubicle, something that gives sick days, nothing with physical labor, I hate interacting with people, and I don’t know how to program.  (I could learn, but it’s not worth it; I’m not patient nor interested enough.)  Nothing that is teaching.
Ideally I want to have the same job at a better place, but those jobs seem impossible to come by.  I did look, believe me I did.  Last year there was 1 job in the country that I could have applied for, and it’s not worth moving for.

Stupid “You should be doing more” arguments from people who aren’t

On the NYTimes or forums or blogs etc, a common refrain among commenters when the subject of fertility treatment comes up is that there are so many kids in the world (and so many kids in the US) that people should really be adopting.  And they should really be adopting in the US (because apparently international children are not as important as US children).  [They seem to think that adopting kids is as easy as calling an orphanage and having Anne of Green Gables sent on the next train.  The reality, of course, being that adoption can be as heart-breaking and uncertain a process as infertility itself, even in states with supposedly easy adoption and quick termination of parental rights.  (We have some friends who tried and failed adoption when a biological aunt came out of the woodwork.)]

Even people that are supposedly skeptical and critical thinkers can fall into stupid fallacies.  For example, PZ Meyers is very vocal that people who homeschool their kids are selfish assholes equal in their danger to society to people who refuse to vaccinate their kids.  He says:

I am not a fan of homeschooling; in fact, if I had my way, I’d make it illegal.


If you don’t believe in vaccination, then don’t vaccinate your kids.

Sorry, but the same logic applies. Public schools are for the good of the community; homeschooling is intended for the good of the individual child.  I know that homeschools can be good (but most aren’t), and that public schools can be awful (and most are), but I consider homeschooling to be a distraction from the cause of a greater good.

he goes on from there in the comments, basically arguing that if you keep your kids out of (bad) public schools that hurts all the kids still in public schools, mainly because the school doesn’t get the federal money for the kid being there (partly because he says parents have some kind of obligation to be involved), despite perfectly logical arguments responding to his own (such as:  I homeschool because my child is autistic/requires other special accommodations– he would be costing the district much more than he brings the district in per-student federal funds and isn’t mainstreamed anyway… or, My kid was hospitalized after getting beaten up/bullied to the point of self-harm and the school did nothing… or simply, I pay taxes but am not costing my district anything).

All you holier-than-thou folks on the internet: It’s easy to volunteer other people to be saints.  Not so easy to be one yourself.  If you don’t have 20 foster kids and 10 adoptees, then don’t tell people using fertility treatment there are tons of needy kids out there needing homes and that they’re sinners for trying to have a baby instead of adopting one.  Bless people who do foster and adopt, but if you’re not one of them, then why are you telling other people that they should do more than you are?

If you don’t have your own kids in dangerous crumbling schools (because you decided to live in a more expensive district, your kids are grown, or you just don’t have kids), and you’re not volunteering regularly and donating heavily, at least the amount that the federal government would be giving* for say, I dunno, 5 kids, then don’t say that parents who pull their kids out of public schools for private or homeschooling are selfish.  You’re even more selfish because you have more time and money to give, and you wouldn’t be physically, mentally, or emotionally scarring any minors as collateral damage.**

These “you want/have a child you should be doing X” are all stupid arguments.  No one person can save the world.  And nobody, just by dint of being unable to easily have biological children or by having children should be required to contribute to those specific causes.  Nobody is actually required to contribute to any specific cause.  But if someone chooses to put their kids in private school and also donates to people starving in developing countries rather than joining the school board at the local public,*** does that make them selfish?  What about public school teachers who send their own kids to private?

These kinds of arguments seem to be focused on fertility, race, and gender.  If you have kids then you’re supposed to support specific causes.  If you want kids but can’t have them, then that must be a sign from God that you’re supposed to adopt (but people who can have kids easily have no such obligation).  If you’re a black college grad, then you’re selling out your race if you’d rather be an investment banker than a high school teacher (this is a narrative that two of my black studies colleagues frequently argue about).  If you’re female then you have to have a certain kind of active feminism and aren’t allowed to make choices to be the trailing spouse or the one who cooks dinner, even if your husband is allowed to make those choices.  Why do these immutable characteristics (it’s hard to give a kid back), many of which we have no choice over, provide such obligations when others do not?  Owning a pet doesn’t make you have to support spay and neuter laws or pose nude for PETA.  Being a white male provides no obligation to any race or gender.  And yet, when historically you’ve been chattel, all of a sudden you have an obligation to change the world.  IBTP.

*~8% of the school’s budget… meaning that actually your paying state and local taxes without costing the local district to educate your kid (at a cost of ~10K/year to the district) is probably more than making up for not having your kid in school.  And if you kick an additional $800/kid-you-don’t-have to the school district, you should be able to say STFU to any guilt-mongers.  Me, I prefer to spend my education charity dollars in high poverty districts using Donors Choose because they need my money more than the local school district does.  If our district had less money they wouldn’t fricking change districts every 5 years because they wouldn’t be able to afford to bus kids to schools so far from where they live.

**Before having kids the one of us with a kid volunteered extensively tutoring and teaching math in failing urban school districts and at migrant summer programs in rural agricultural areas.  There’s a lot more time to volunteer when you don’t have a small child.

***After years on the school board, and while still on the school board, my mother sent my sister to a Catholic high school.  Does that make her selfish?  She continued on the school board after my sister graduated as well, even though she no longer had kids in school.  Her research career suffered substantially from her public service.


(written by the non-preggers one of us… obvs… )

#1:  I came home from work and started drinking on an empty stomach.  This semester I must resolve to stay out of department and campus drama.  If I think about how bad things are I will just be angry all the time.  I should really try to care way way less about the lack of respect I’m getting.

#2:  was today your first teaching day or something?

#1:  no but first day of faculty on contract; college-wide meetings
#2: next time bring the alcohol with
in a thermos with hot chocolate they’ll never know

#1:   SO FIRST my travel request to a conference was denied for no stated reason.
then an administrator gave a 2-hr speech about strategic planning in which ze said how much ze hates research (not in so many words)
also a lawyer talked for 20 min straight about discrimination laws “here are some examples of harassment. Don’t do them. Here is a list of protected classes. I shall repeat them like 5 times.” [Note: we all did the required online training.  It was less detailed than that, but seemed to last forever.  Duh.]
and the ethernet in my office died over break for no real reason.

#2:   Alcohol in an insulated mug with chocolate.  It’s how I got through my philosophy class in college.
#1:  also it was cold out, and we had to SIGN IN for this meeting so ze can see if people are coming.
 Also I have some beer.
#2:  don’t drunk dial your partner
don’t make out with an ex boyfriend tonight
#1: I should probaly not drunkblogge

#2: no no, just don’t drunkposte.  we could use some drunkblogges
I’ll go over it before it posts to make sure you don’t leave any “F*ck You [name of university]” in.

 #1 : hehehe
  and I don’t wanna be all [censored] in it
 #2: every single post queued up next week except the ask the grumpies is about kids
 #1: I’ll see if I can change that??
 #2: one of those could easily be moved another week
  apparently all I have to say anything about is money and kids
and the money post is about kids
#1: hahaha
 #2: Tuesday would make an excellent drunkblogge post
 #1: I will try to work on stuff perhaps about rage and drunkenness and how good my life is with partner except for things.
 #2: sure
  We’re gonna be ok. We have our men.   And OMG, at least we don’t have the lives of some of these humanities profs that started teaching this week
 #1:  yeah, more and more I’m thinking of getting out of this job but the alternatives are not better

#2: I shoudl go to sleep
don’t get too hungover
drink gatorade or something

#1: I’ll be fine
  I have only 1 beer

#2:   ah, that’s not so drunk blogging
unless you’re a lightweight
mildly buzzed blogging

 #1: I am a lightweight
 #2: tipsy blogging!
#1: yup
 #2: wherein you flirt with wordpress
  and giggle a lot
 #1: heee

Pizza algorithm

A big question for any children’s party in which you are providing lunch is how many and what kind of pizzas to provide.

The internet has a few algorithms that address this subject, but I can’t find the super-useful one we used last year (that I probably got off a mommy forum). Instead there’s people’s own personal algorithms, which seem to be a bit, I dunno, personal-preference heavy (#2, for example, feels about mushrooms how #1 feels about eggnog, and #1 has a green pepper intolerance).

Do these algorithms really work?

In my years as a parent to a small child and chauffeur to and chaperone at children’s parties, I have made the following Scientific Observation: Kids seem to like Cheese or Pepperoni (originally had “and Pepperoni” but in reality, the cheese eaters eschew pepperoni entirely, and some pepperoni eaters will not eat plain cheese, “no! want pepROni pizza!”).

I have also noted: Adults seem to like more variety (and pepperoni, unless they’re vegetarian).

Last year we had 15 kids and at least 15 parents and didn’t get it quite right– there wasn’t quite enough veggie and one vegetarian kid was sad to have cheese as hir third piece…

Here’s what we’re trying this year for 4-7 year olds and their parents (or n people total):

(n+1)/4 for large pizzas (because we’re from the midwest and would rather have leftovers than run out of anything)
Order of pizza ordering based on number of people:
1.  Cheese
2.  Pepperoni
3.  Cheese
4.  Pepperoni
5.  Something with veggies (ex. vegetarian lover)
6.  Something with meats (ex. meat lover)
Then cheese, pepperoni, individual veggies (mushroom or onion), individual non-pepperoni meat (sausage or hamburger), cheese, pepperoni etc. Normally I would prefer onion to mushroom in terms of individual veggie, but this part of the country seems to be anti-onion, which I don’t understand.

If there were more adults, I would make pepperoni the first ordered pizza, and replace every other cheese pizza with a single-topping vegetarian pizza.

Hopefully this modified algorithm will work!

What are your pizza preferences and what is your ideal algorithm?

Push presents

Back 5 or 6 years ago when I was in the process of becoming a mommy, I hung out on a forum that had infertility, pregnancy, and mommy sections.   It’s amazing how much drama can ensue in an online forum environment.

One of the big debates, and something I had never heard of before, and have never heard of IRL, was whether or not Push Presents were appropriate or crass.

A Push Present, btw, is an expensive present, usually a piece of jewelry, that the baby daddy gives you for pushing out (or c-sectioning out) his offspring.  You know, for a job well done.  (#2 says:  Ewwwww.)

One of the things that I noticed in these debates was that the women who were heavily pro-Push Presents, of the “I DESERVE this piece of jewelry” arguments were also the ones who were always complaining that their husbands were never around and were always working.  The women who thought the presents were crass tended to have what seemed to be better marriages– or at least they complained less about their husbands on the internet, which may or may not be the same thing.  They tended to say things like, “It’s OUR baby, the BABY is the reward” and so on.

I’m not really big on jewelry (in fact, I may have told DH I wouldn’t marry him if he went into debt on an engagement ring), so I’m not really the person to ask about the suitability of jewelry as a post-baby gift (and I kind of like the idea of charm bracelets with birth stones… you know, all symbolic.  Don’t want one, but like the idea.).

But I will say that time is so much more valuable than any piece of metal and stone.  I would rather have DH taking me to Bradley classes, feeding me when I can’t keep anything down but smoothies, taking over my chores when I’m too exhausted to do anything… and so on.  There’s no expensive present in the world that could make up for that (even a butler/valet/housekeeper/personal assistant just wouldn’t do it– I’d rather have DH there than the most highly competent servant taking care of every need).

Are push presents still a thing?  2011 was the year of weaning off mothering forums so I’m no longer hooked in.  Had you heard of them?  What do you think about them?  And what do you think about the standard “he’s not around but he’s working so he can secretly buy something nice for YOU” trope that I don’t even enjoy in Christmas anime episodes?