Links of loving linkiness

Just discovered miser mom.  She is a MATH NERD and obviously good at educating.  I’m loving going through her archive.   She also likes Gilbert and Sullivan and has some really neat tricks for child-rearing (and she’s got a big heart), though if she’s not careful she could raise a couple of economists.

if you want to read some depressing and interesting comments, click

Grover and Cookie Monster sing about movies.

Noooooo!  Link on bacon shortage stolen from Profgrrrrl.

You probably already saw this on historiann.

Oil and Garlic says to make your spouse do hir own laundry.  We do laundry together as a bonding activity, but if it is a less pleasant experience, it makes sense not to have only one person doing it all.

Hush asks if yelling is so bad.  It is 1:30am and I’m wishing our 2 month old would stop yelling at us!

A straight-forward explanation on why dividends aren’t all that, even if I still secretly love them.

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

Google Questions, you know you wanna know

Q:  why does my 2 year old be grumpy to other people

A:  because ze is two.

Q:  equifax – do i need to send in copies?

A:  They say you do.  Good luck with that.

Q:  how is education these days

A:  still pretty terrible

Q:  how ask for notes from classmate

A:  Hey [insert classmate’s name here],

I’m in your [insert class name here] class.  I had to miss class on [insert day].  I was wondering if it would be possible to borrow your notes for that day.  I will get them back right away.  Thanks in advance!

Q: why am i grumpy when i don’t sleep properly

A:  because that is the correct response.

Q: how to toilet train when working part time

A: It doesn’t have to be all or nothing– potty train when you can, don’t worry about it when you can’t.

Q:  should teens have the same minimum wage jobs as adults?

A:  We recommend against stripping for the under 18 set, though one of #1’s former roommates did work as a stripper when she turned 18.

Q:  how much do you need to pay for a master

A:  We’re not really educated on the whole BDSM scene, but we imagine it varies by city and popularity of said master.  It’s all about the supply and demand (supply of demand?)

Q:  what advice would you give a friend who has admitted she cheated on a exam to the professor and is awaiting punishment

A:  Your friend should check online for her school’s procedure for academic dishonesty cases.  Otherwise, wait and suck it up.

Q:  should you force a kid to do something they dont want to do if you know they will love it

A:  Depends what it is.

Things that irritate us

  1. People who don’t answer my emails
  2. Having to remember to send reminder emails after two weeks of radio silence
  3. Credit card companies screwing up
  4. Hurry up and wait and then hurry up again
  5. Being asked how the baby is sleeping.  Just.  Shut.  Up.
  6. Boomerang chores.  You finally make that call, but then you have to wait for them to call back.  You set up the appointment, which reveals that you need to make yet another appointment.  You manage to pick up that book from the library… which means you have to make another trip to return it.
  7. Booking conference travel and annoying booking sites that mess things up.
  8. Next semester’s class schedule playing musical chairs.  No, I do not want to come up with a new elective for next semester.  I swear, another section of the core course I’m teaching will have more students in it than any brand new elective I could come up with.
  9. The hospital sending more bills.  Especially incorrect bills!  Hopefully tomorrow DH will clear up their 4.5K mistake bill.  (The hospital is *in network* that means we don’t owe you what BC/BS denied.  Especially when what they denied is more than the cash cost of the delivery if we didn’t have insurance!)
  10. The physicality of my body.  This quote from Jerry Holkins of Penny Arcade pretty much sums it up:

    “I am not invested in my husk, so the idea that I should pay someone on television to elevate it somehow is preposterous.  This is the cloud of interstellar junk that happened to congregate around my consciousness; it’s functionally a waste product.  I don’t want to improve it, I want it cleaned off.”

What irritates you these days?


We didn’t use one with DC1.  Ze was really a thumb kid.  I was fine with that… less plastic, you never lose it.  I don’t think we even owned a pacifier.  Plus I wasn’t making as much milk and DC1 spit up a lot more, so more suckling was required, no doubt helping with that need to suck.

The hospital sent one home with us with DC2.  One night at 3am when an unhappy DC2 was obviously not hungry but was chewing on my breast (sometime after the nipple-confusion stage), we tried it in desperation.  It worked.

I think we’re going to keep just the one, and we’re only going to use it when we’ve tried everything else and it’s obvious ze needs to suck on something other than my breast.  I keep hoping that ze will discover hir thumb, but it hasn’t happened yet.

I never understood parents who forced pacis on their kids and complained that their kid wouldn’t take one no matter how hard they tried.  And my confusion got larger when these same parents later complained that their toddler wouldn’t give up the pacifier ze had been forced to take as an infant.  But now I totally understand the use of pacifiers.  Sometimes baby just wants to suck on something and will destroy a breast if allowed.

I’m not sure if pacifiers can be used in moderation, but I’m hoping they can.  We’re going to try, anyway.  Anything* that brings sweet quiet to a dreadfully unhappy baby.

*Well, not *anything*… mommy won’t be drinking hard liquor until nursing is done, for example.

Was your kid a pacifier baby or a thumb baby or nothing at all?  If you don’t have kids, do you remember which you were?  Any fun stories to share?


Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: . 29 Comments »

It’s not really your money if you’re in debt

Here at Grumpy Rumblings, we’re all about enjoying life’s little luxuries… *if* you can afford them.  You won’t hear us castigating you for buying a nice car or fancy cheeses or lattes or traveling or whatever it is that makes you happy.  If you have the money, spend it on whatever (legal) thing you want to spend it on.  It’s not a race to financial independence unless you want it to be (and some of us prefer working to taking cold showers).  He who dies with the largest asset portfolio isn’t the winner.

However, we get irritated when folks with high debt loads make the same argument, especially when that debt is of the high-interest unsecured kind.  Not only are you shooting yourself in the foot someday living near the edge, but you’re also living it up today at the expense of other folks if that house of cards comes crashing down.  One day you may get hit with a negative shock.  You could lose your job or hit your credit limit or get hit with a big medical bill or any number of things that many of us self-insure for with cash in the bank.  And at that point, someone will have to bail you out.  It might be family or it might be bankruptcy or you may get suckers on the internet to help shoulder your burden.  It may even be the government paying for your problems in old age or nonprofits taking care of you.

Those folks say they’re entitled to their high debt loads.  They fund more lavish lifestyles than we have on their smaller incomes.  Travel, fancy handbags, daily meals out, nice cars, a house with no money down… why should they have to pay off their unsecured debt before living life?  They say it’s their money, they should be able to do what they want with it.

Except it isn’t their money.  It’s their money plus the expected value that they’re going to screw up and someone else is going to have to take care of their mess.  And the probability of that happening is pretty high, much higher than folks who are responsible with their money.

And those responsible folks are the ones who end up footing the bill, whether because they’re family or just society as a whole.  And that’s irritating.

Now, we wouldn’t trade with these entitled folks.  We *like* having real actual money of our own more than we like the consumer goods or additional travel or whatever it is we could be funding instead of saving or keeping our credit lines open.  But it is still obnoxious.  (And why is it that almost every person I know IRL like this votes Republican and hates folks on Welfare?  The only difference is access to credit!)

Student debt isn’t as bad because it’s virtually impossible to discharge in bankruptcy, but it can still keep folks from retirement saving, which eventually comes back to bite society through old-age Medicaid costs if nothing else (2/3 of Medicaid is long-term care).  Housing debt is secured which means the bank at least gets a house in return for the debt.  But we still cringe when people put 0% down on top of all their other debts.

Anyhow, I guess the point of this post is, stop bragging about your expensive purchases until you’ve taken care of yourself first.  We don’t want to hear about it.  It’s not your money that you’re spending until you’re out of debt.  Stop talking about spending other folk’s money.  Even better, stop spending other folks’ money… but that is probably too much to ask.  ETA:  Stopping complaining about your debt would also help, especially if you’re always attributing that debt to the universe being against you.

What do you all think?  Should people be entitled to lavish spending so long as they can make the minimum payments on their credit lines?  At what point are you allowed to live a lavish lifestyle?  What’s your limit for what you would do to get out of high interest unsecured debt?

link love

Lots of great links this week!

Story of my life from itsprobablyphdme. Shiny!

The annual food stamp/SNAP challenge from the nonconsumer advocate.  It’s would be a bit easier for us given that we’re now a family of four, but #4 only eats vicariously ($112 is pretty close to our regular grocery bill… $84 is not).

Graceful retirement links to a bunch of longevity calculators.

Gabe is winning at chore wars.

A map of the market from Smart Money.

Kelly Damian talks about horrible gift ideas.

Reassigned time discusses, among other things, how we wish we could hire more folks.

Oil and Garlic nails some problems with common proposals for fixing retirement and health insurance.

Wandering Scientist talks a bit about why she works and life the universe and everything (but not balance or having it all).

First Gen American with some great career advice.

No trust fund has an anonymous survey she’d like you to take.

Mutant Supermodel is looking for single parents to share their stories.

Hush with an interesting take on the tiger mother book.

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

xkcd is epic.

Asking the Readers for More Ask the Grumpies

Once again, we’re out of Ask the Grumpies questions!  We even answered the hard ones about the Amalia Miller paper and about lumpy employer benefits!

We need more questions– What grey areas can we illuminate with our infinite wisdom?  What anxieties can we sooth with our forthright pragmatism?  What itchy unknowns can we scratch for you all?

We answer your deepest and most frivolous questions and everything in between every other Friday.  But, as perfect as we are, we’re not mind-readers and we need you to let us know how best to share our wisdom!

Leave us questions in the comments.  Or if you want to be super anonymous, shoot us an email at grumpyrumblings at gmail.

Boice for kids!

Ok, not really.  By “kids” I mean 24-year-olds.

(If you are my student, why are you Googling this?  Stop it and go back to work on your paper!) (Also, please don’t tell anybody my secret identity.  Thanks.)

Everyone else is doing writing these days!  Once more I attempt to incorporate writing into my content course for juniors and seniors in the major.  For them I am summarizing a lot of work by Robert Boice, author of the amazingly useful Professors As Writers. But, most of the stuff here in this post comes from his other book, How Writers Journey to Comfort and Fluency (1994).  I just couldn’t find a link to the other one, it’s hard to get ahold of.  It’s worth it, though, because it has more details than Professors as Writers, and it has particularly useful bits (almost half the book!) about how to get motivation and ideas, and how to answer your own objections to implementing a writing schedule.  Some of this stuff is new to both #1 and #2 so I’m plopping my notes here, just in case anyone else wants to know. [Editorial comments in brackets.]

These are really my own notes, so most are not in comprehensible sentence-form, sorry.  Also, remember not to plagiarize.  Personally, we find Boice inspiring, and we hope you do too.  (Although if you are a student for whom this looks very familiar, note that this post may have totally been plagiarized from your own professor… you just can’t tell on the internet.  Or it could be great minds thinking alike.)

First, an example of my own freewriting when stuck [I show this to students after they have already taken a version of Boice’s blocking questionnaire, and have tried freewriting at least once themselves.]

Getting over some problems:
(Boice, 2000)

Before you are ready
– Informal outlines
– Talk aloud, freewrite
Keep going: contingencies
– Go back to freewriting if necessary
Finish: revisions (not today) [I don’t talk about revision until later, because I don’t want to distract the students from producing a first draft]

Starting before you are ready is hard for impatient people but will help them avoid doing it all at once.  It will help procrastinators and challenge perfectionists.  Informal outlines or talking will help perfectionists.

How To Get Motivation:

Boice (1994, p. 22) summarizing Murray:
1.  “[B]ecome an avid collector of details, facts, thoughts, anything including references.”
2.  “With immersion in a subject, the next step, wanting to order & organize the information, comes naturally.”
3.  “…realization emerges that much of what has been collected & clarified is unknown to others…”
4.  “Finally, after rehearsing the material in their minds, writers impose a plan & a schedule….”

A pep-talk:

“Motivation and inspiration follow, not precede, the practice of regular, accumulated work…”  (Boice, 1994, p. 19)
Writing can be conceptualized as problem-solving task.  To solve a problem, you have to try stuff.
The anticipation of pain is often worse than actually experiencing it.
BRIEF DAILY SESSIONS (not huge blocks)

Getting Ideas

Where do you get your ideas?
“There’s a swell Idea Service in Schenectady; and every week I send ’em twenty-five bucks; and every week they send me a fresh six-pack of ideas.”   –Harlan Ellison [#2 likes saying Schenectady]

Boice book 1994, pp. 54 – 57: steps to get ideas from taking notes (presented here in much-reduced and adapted form)
(This also leads very naturally to a useful outline that won’t feel too rigid.)

If you know experts in the field, ask them where to start.

1.  As you read, ask how it can help your writing. How do your thoughts fit in with the conversation?
2.  Take notes.
3.  Go back through notes and write comments to yourself.  Have a conversation with yourself and author.  Agree, disagree, expand, argue.
4.  Set limits.  (E.g., <20 minutes per article, ≤1 page of notes per article)
5.  Carry your notes with you.  Pull them out when you have 10 minutes.  Continue conversation.
6.  Organize sources in different ways.  Arrange by topic, methodology, etc.
7.  Turn all notes into 1 page that integrates them.  Agree/disagree, tell a story, note gaps. Congratulations, you made an outline!
8.  Start turning notes into prose.  Don’t try to read every article ever.  Start writing before you feel ready.
— It can be informal.  “And then I will say the part about how XYZ…”
— explain it to someone or talk out loud

Now your outline won’t feel too stiff and you won’t ignore it or hate it.  This will actually make the writing of the paper go faster and easier, really!

*** Outline is a PROCESS, not a THING, and it needs to take place in brief daily sessions.  ***

Stimulus Control: Environment

Teach yourself that THIS LOCATION is for WORK ONLY [#2 really needs to work on this]
Minimize distraction: quiet, headphones
No interruptions: turn off phone, twitter, email pop-ups, close the door
Arrange objects for comfort & convenience
Office supplies
Don’t get lost in environmental tweaking
Use social control

Stimulus Control: Habits

Write every day (but don’t shut out family, sleep, exercise, etc.)
No time?  Do a time audit
Write when your brain is fresh
(Pre-) Write in small, frequent amounts
— Warmup time for each session increases with time since leaving project
Plan for next session at end
Keep a chart: time in, time out, work finished
Making work visible; accountability

Structures Do Not  Impede Creativity

Nuns fret not at their convent’s narrow room;
And hermits are contented with their cells;
And students with their pensive citadels;
Maids at the wheel, the weaver at his loom,
Sit blithe and happy; bees that soar for bloom,
High as the highest Peak of Furness-fells,
Will murmur by the hour in foxglove bells:
In truth the prison, unto which we doom
Ourselves, no prison is: and hence for me,
In sundry moods, ’twas pastime to be bound
Within the Sonnet’s scanty plot of ground;
Pleased if some Souls (for such there needs must be)
Who have felt the weight of too much liberty,
Should find brief solace there, as I have found.
–W. Wordsworth

The muse works for you!

Contingency strength is important: get you to write, but not to hate it
Binge writing results in fewer total pages over time, and more misery
Social contingencies: appointments

Once again, these are my own notes, summarized from other authors and a variety of sources. Please don’t copy them.  I also show my students part of this video by Anne Lamott, whose book Bird by Bird I deeply love:


  • DC1 has been having fun with blowing kisses.  Hir new thing:  teleporter hugs.  They’re hugs that teleport over a distance to the recipient.  They look like a mix of a normal hug and uh, a teleporter unit (which looks a bit like a shower, I guess).  Can you tell that DC1 has been introduced to Star Trek?
  • After a year with only two yellows (last year), DC1 got in trouble the first week for talking when the Religion teacher was talking.  Oops.  In this grade they lose 5 min of recess for going from green to yellow.
  • We are a little concerned that even though DC1 has technically skipped two grades at this point, ze is bringing home 100%s on almost everything.  We really hope it’s just beginning of the year review.
  • Being forced to have an opinion seems to cause DC1 to have a melt-down.  Ze hates questions that ask about hir “favorite” thing.  We keep saying, “it doesn’t have to be your favorite, it could just be something you like” or “if you don’t have a favorite, just pick one.”  We’ve also stopped giving options at dinnertime.
  • Related, we’ve had some troubles with hir having melt-downs at dinnertime.  We’ve traced this somewhat to hir not having a 3:30 snack, and have asked hir to make sure ze eats something as soon as after-school care starts.
  • DC2 is still a tank, and still amazing with the gross motor skills, though hir rapid growth has made it more difficult to scoot forward (ze has been scooting to change direction though) or to completely support hir weight.  Ze has also started to demand walking practice.
  • DC2 also does this adorable thing where when we’re nursing and I’m trying to get hir to open her mouth more I’ll say, “Say Ahhhhh,” and, still with hir mouth closed, ze’ll go “ahhhhh.”
  • DC2 loves music, especially REM and apparently Nancy Sinatra.  Ze likes things that have a beat and are easy to bounce/walk to.
  • It still irritates me when people ask if DC2 is sleeping through the night.  Grrrr.
  • Speaking of which… DC2, like DC1, has recognized that the night makes excellent Daddy playtime.  Only DC2 is way less willing than DC1 to be bored to sleep… instead DC2 gets bored to tears and screaming.  We’re working on making hir have more interesting daytimes, which is difficult when it’s so easy to let hir snooze from 8:30 to 10:30pm (except then ze wants to play from 1:30 to 3:30 or later).  And sadly ze sleeps a lot for the mother’s helpers (on the other hand, our kitchen sparkles and our floors have never been so regularly cleaned.)
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Why you need float

Probably the biggest use of our emergency fund has been as float for things that are going to be reimbursed.  I put business expenses such as travel on my credit card and then get reimbursed a few months later.  Having the emergency fund means that I don’t have to pay credit card interest on that money while I’m waiting for the university to reimburse me.

I’ve also had to use the emergency fund when someone has screwed up on payroll.  Sometimes it takes a while to get paid… you get paid eventually but a paperwork error could mean you have to wait two weeks or a month or even longer until you get the check you were supposed to get.  Or when the credit card company screws up and direct debits you twice for the same month.  (Grr.)

Back in graduate school that use of the emergency fund was even more necessary as such expenses were a much larger portion of my income.  Income has thankfully since gone up much more than my reimbursable expenses and occasional paperwork catastrophes, but I still shouldn’t lock too much away each month.

Having such a fund is probably most important if you don’t have access to the relatively cheap credit of credit cards.  DH’s relatives have been having trouble getting the Pell grant to pay for textbooks.  It would be easy for us to have them buy the books at the student store and have us reimburse them for receipts… except they don’t have the spare $100 or $200 to float.  So if we do end up buying the textbooks we’ll have to order them directly online and make it an even longer time before Relative1 gets her required texts.  (3 weeks without already…)

They live in a state with tight controls on payday lending.  This is a good and a bad thing… it means that they can’t borrow money at a high interest rate to use in place of an emergency fund in these situations.  Probably overall a good thing for this specific family.

How often do you use (or wish you could use) your emergency fund to temporarily fund things while you’re waiting for a reimbursement or for someone to fix up a snafu?  Any good stories?