Google those questions, we’ll give those answers

Q:  how to pay off debt with a part time jobs

A:  Step 1, get the part-time job.  Step 2, show up to work and do the work.  Step 3, profit.  Step 4, take money and pay your debt with it.  Repeat steps 1-4 until debt is gone.

Q:  why can you not accuse someone of lying in the house of commons

A:  According to this blog, Tradition and House Rules.  I think also it might be Canada.

Q:  my house is paid off how do i protect it

A:  Insurance.  Regular maintenance.  Playing nicely with the @&!*$*#! HOA if you have one.

Q:  if i have a full time 30 hour post and want a second job would it be worth it

A:  It depends on your financial goals and your disutility of work.  If you want or need more money, it might.  If you don’t and if you value your free time, then it might not.  Also, if you would have to spend more money (say additional childcare or more eating out etc.) it may or may not be worth it depending on how much additional you would make vs. spend.

Q:  wow where to buy regular clothes

A:  Depends on the kind of “regular clothes.”  Target is not a bad place to start.

Q:  why some people are just not cut out to be parents

A:  Some people don’t want kids, and that’s fine.  Some people don’t like kids, and that’s fine.  Some people don’t know how to parent in ways that could endanger the potential child and don’t want to learn and those people shouldn’t have kids even if they want them.

Q:  would you have breakfast?

A:  Yup, practically every morning!

Q:  do graduate grades matter in cat

A:  No.  Cats really mainly care about food, water, and pettings.  So long as you get those in, and maybe a little bit of the temperature control component, you’ll be fine.

Q:  how does drop cookies taste like

A:  deliciousness

Q:  do property taxes ever go away once the house is paid off

A:  Hahahahahahahahaha!  No.

Do some people *want* to be miserable?: A deliberately controversial post

We’re just curious.

We see some folks do the same negative repeating behaviors over and over again and we don’t understand it.  Complaining about the same things.  And not just addictive stuff.

Sometimes they group together and encourage others to wallow too so there’s a mutual complain and enable-fest.  Sometimes they take turns.  Sometimes they talk over each other.  However they communicate though, it seems to encourage the misery rather than taking it away.

We don’t get it.  When we complain we want to vent and then to find a solution after we’ve calmed down.  We want to be happy.

We all get hit with bad things from time to time, some of us more than others.  But some folks seem to be able to manufacture their own bad luck, or to react incredibly strongly to things most of us are just mildly annoyed by.  How people react to negative events seems really important.

We want to be around people who want to be happy.  We like people who have growth mind-sets.

We understand that sometimes people have chemical depression, and we’re all for therapy and FDA-approved (and psychiatrist-monitored) pharmaceuticals as needed.  Please get professional help if you need it!

#2 would like to note that there is a time and place for shared misery, particularly in grad school and in the early tenure-track.  But there are ALSO times to stop moaning and do your writing.  Structured groups are good for this: first hour bitch-n-moan, second hour hard work, then break for snack, more work, a closing few minutes of social time, etc.  Commiseration is useful sometimes, but it must be backed up with productivity if you’re going to survive.  My good friend in grad school pointed out that we had “a culture of stress” and that it wasn’t necessarily the most helpful.

We gotta wonder though, if you’re hanging out with people who seem to enjoy being miserable, and seem to enjoy encouraging you when you’re making bad choices (that will cause misery down the road) or just being miserable (and discourage you from making choices that could reduce the misery)… why are you doing that?  And can you explain it to us?

What the Most Successful People do at Work: A Book Review

Laura Vanderkam sent us her new e-book, “What the most successful people do at work.”

As with all of Ms. Vanderkam’s writing, this was a very easy read.  She’s got the Malcolm Gladwell thing down.  (Well, maybe not Malcolm Gladwell… there’s not quite as much suspense, but she has breezy edutainment down cold.)

The book touches upon a number of topics about productivity.  Unfortunately, it just touches upon them, giving a vivid example from a single case study for each idea, and maybe another from her own life, but in most cases not going into any depth about how universal each of these ideas is.  And it turns out there’s a lot of research out there on psychology.

Early on, she talks about getting in the zone.  There’s been books written on how to get there and what it means to get there, only instead of calling it “in the zone,” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi coined the term, “flow.”  Laura V. is a far better writer than Mihaly C., and we’d love to see her do his material justice.

(#2 thinks C. is a fine writer!  #1 had a hard time with one of them– the other was easier, but not what one would call fun.  V. books are actually fun.)

Understanding sunk costs is a basic concept of productivity from economics– don’t throw good money (or time!) after bad.  Understanding them can also help productivity by keeping you from lingering emotionally.

The idea of a planning period also has research and randomized controlled trials to back it up.  Our favorite productivity researcher, Robert Boice, talks about the importance of planning and schedules and routines or habits.  And, of course, there’s the new best-selling book on The Power of Habit out there.  Something that should be noted that isn’t included in the research… whenever you’re working with other people, they will often drop the ball.  So it’s important to have secondary plans.

One chapter that’s completely missing from this ebook is the research on creativity:  the need for regular breaks to allow your subconscious to puzzle things out.  The breaks may be mentioned, but there’s hard science and reasons why, and not just about Willpower (another recent best seller) or energy levels.

The chapter on meetings had good ideas, but was a little disorganized.

I am reminded that I should do more networking.

The book’s discussion of progress on a goal brought to mind Virginia Valian’s solving a work problem.  (And, of course, there’s a huge dry psychology literature on goal setting, that we bet Laura Vanderkam could sex up.)

The book ends suddenly– a page or even a paragraph summing things up would make it seem longer!

Overall, I felt like this book was only the article portion of something that could be a real book.  It felt a lot like the book prospectuses I occasionally review for publishers.  It left me wanting Ms. Vanderkam to write a real book on productivity.  Something that ties all the research out there together into one magnum opus, but an opus no longer or more difficult to read than say, NurtureShock, with a chapter dedicated to each idea.

Such a book will require research.  And there’s a lot of research on productivity out there.  Best-selling recent books on Habit and Willpower are only the tip of the iceberg.

As she says, it’s priced at ebook novelette price, not full book price.  But I think she’s got a $24.95  (or $13.95 if you buy from Amazon) book in there that isn’t just a “What the most successful people” compilation.  So, yes, it’s well worth $3.99 (Buy it!), but it will leave you wanting something more substantial.   And I do think she’s the right person to give us that more substantial best-selling book on productivity.

Would you buy an in-depth book on productivity by Laura Vanderkam?  One that translates the academic research into real action items you can use?

Does unemployment hurt you on the job market?

Well, no and yes.

There’s a new paper out by Kory Kroft, Fabian Lange, and Matthew Notowidigdo that does a field experiment on this question.  They sent out resumes with varying levels of employment and unemployment to online job openings in 100 cities and tracked call-back rates.

They found that you’re more likely to get a job if you’ve been recently unemployed than if you’re currently employed, but the longer you’re unemployed, the less likely it is that you’re going to be re-employed any time soon.

Long periods of unemployment on your resume hurt you.  Even if your resume is fantastic otherwise.  Employers assume that if someone hasn’t snapped you up yet, there must be a good reason for that.

On top of that, they suggest that in areas with high unemployment, employers are less likely to hold your current unemployment against you as a sign of bad quality.

What does this mean for you?

Well, it means that you should hit the ground running with any layoff or other job-loss.  If you don’t find full-time work right away, find some way of accounting for your time.  Are you doing part-time consulting work?  Freelancing?

Another important thing to note is that most jobs are found via networks.  This study was only able to look at the effect of cold applications to job postings.  Things may be different if a professional contact can vouch for you.

Have you had any experience either as a job seeker or an employer with unemployment duration and hireability?  Do you think long-term unemployment is a signal of worker productivity?  How do you signal you’re productive?

link love

We’re both out of town, but here are some links to enjoy in our absence!

Love the graphs on this article showing exactly how many small businesses are affected by Obamacare (hint:  not many).

Femme Frugality discusses the cost of walking.

Izzy mom is sick of lazy spineless parents and their bratty kids.  She says so.

Wandering Scientist with advice on informational interviews.

Mother Jones discusses potential harmful anti-women legislation criminalizing still-births and miscarriages under manslaughter laws.

I want to see this at the zoo.

I waste so much time weighs in on cats vs. dogs.

Get out of there cat.

Wonders and marvels explains how to wear a hoop skirt.

Dominic Deegan had his last comic!

Ask the grumpies: How much to spend on a wedding present?

Grad Advisor asks:

A colleague and I co-advised a student who graduated a couple of years ago. The student is now getting married and the colleague and I are both invited to the wedding. The colleague wants to buy a present together and split the cost, which is a great idea. The problem is that the colleague wants to buy three little-ish things that together cost $90 and split that in two. I think that’s too cheap. If we were grad students, sure, that would be a good amount, but we are both grownups with salaries and I think we should be able to buy something bigger. (I haven’t talked with the colleague about this yet as I am not sure what to say.)

How much would be customary to spend in this type of occasion? Someone told me it depends on whether they feed you or not etc. but I find it hard to believe it’s just tit for tat (i.e. I should spend no more than the price of my and my husband’s meal and drink or whatever). So what’s the etiquette?

Miss Manners definitely frowns on the idea of tit for tat.  And there really is no specific etiquette– you don’t have to buy a gift at all if you don’t want to.  I tend to give $50 in cash for friends and acquaintances and $100 in cash to family and close friends (sometimes more depending on the circumstances).  When it’s a friend who has a lot of money already, I just buy something between $45 and $80 off the registry depending on what catches my eye.  But most folks just starting out could use the money more than they can use household items, to pay off the wedding if nothing else.  ( has guidelines, as do many other websites.)

Honestly, you can give whatever you want.  At our wedding, we got many large checks from DH’s side for our wedding, and only trinkets from my side.  The difference being the need for social insurance in the two cultures.  If you feel like giving more than $45, then just tell your colleague that you’re planning on cutting a check, and cut the check.  Or if there’s something else you have in mind, tell the colleague you have something else in mind.

The real etiquette answer here is that you can give whatever you want, but you cannot dictate what your colleague should give.

Grumpy Nation, how much do you spend on wedding gifts?  What advice would you have for grad advisor?

Stupid “opinions” on gifted kids

A lot of people seem to think that they are entitled to spew their opinions on gifted kids, parents of gifted kids, and gifted education without having read *any* of the research or without even ever spending time with gifted children.

Here are some of the things you should stop saying on the internet, behind people’s backs, or to their faces:

1.  Why do gifted kids need to be challenged anyway?  Why can’t we let kids be kids?  What’s the rush?

Gifted kids who are not challenged are at a greater risk of dropping out than normal kids.  They’re also more likely to have bad behavior than gifted kids who are sufficiently challenged.  And, if they’re not challenged early on, they can flame out spectacularly when challenged later as young adults.  (All of the previous statements are verifiable from pretty much any research-based book on gifted children.)

On top of that, most children find learning to be fun and to be part of childhood.  It is only adults who seem to feel the need to make learning not fun.  Fight that.

2.  It’s so important for kids to be with their same-aged peers.  It may not be important in elementary school, but just wait until they’re old enough to drive/go to prom/go to college.  Then you’ll see.

Gifted kids are often out-of-synch with their same-aged peers.  It would be great for them to hang around other gifted kids their same age, but many populations don’t have a large enough population to support gifted classes, and tracking is not currently in vogue.   A Nation Deceived makes a clear and convincing case that gifted kids actually do *better* socially on average when accelerated than when with same-aged peers in a normal classroom.  As for driving and prom… those are not the end-all and be-all.  Not all kids go to prom.  Many freshmen go to prom with seniors.  If a freshman hangs out with juniors, hir friends will be driving anyway even though ze can’t, and not all kids have cars or get licenses at 16 anyway.  In terms of college, there are many possibilities not limited to going early, taking a gap year, taking courses at the local college or community college, and so on.  There’s an exciting world of possibilities that may be even better than the status quo.

3.  I knew a kid who skipped grades and ze was totally messed up.

Correlation is not causation.  Gifted kids are often odd and out of synch compared to other kids.  Chances are they’ll seem messed up in the view of some subset of the population whether or not they’re accelerated.  Compared to gifted kids who are not accelerated, those who are accelerated do better academically AND socially, according to A Nation Deceived.

4.  Being bored/miserable/picked on/the only person doing work on a group project is a part of adult life.  Kids need to learn to get used to it in school.

When you’re gifted and do well in school, you can often sort yourself into a profession in which you’re more likely to be surrounded by other competent hard workers doing interesting things.  Being picked on is not normal as an adult.

5.  I’m so sick of hearing X complain about the problems she’s having with her so-called gifted kid, if the kid is actually gifted, which I have my doubts.  Gifted kids don’t need special treatment, not like real special needs kids.  She should just shut up.

It is not easy being the parent of a gifted child.  Gifted children are often intense.  They often do not sleep much, are energetic, are sensitive, act out, get depressed, can be crippled by perfectionism, and many other things, particularly if their needs are not being met.  And society is not set up to help meet their needs in many places.  Additionally, parents of gifted kids often do suffer from isolation.  They often cannot talk about their kids to other parents.  It is wonderful being a parent of gifted children, but there are also challenges.

6.  Kids aren’t really gifted, they’re just hot-housed by over-achieving parents.

We don’t believe there is a such thing as over-achievement (that’s an opinion).  However, gifted kids often achieve quite a bit without the least bit of hot-housing (that’s a fact).  Parents do often provide more academic enrichment for gifted kids because that is what the child needs to help behavior and happiness, but there are generally no flashcards or pressure involved.  Gifted kids often teach themselves to read.  And reading is fun!  All kids are sponges, and gifted kids seem very eager to soak things up.

Remember, opinions and facts are not the same thing, and sometimes incorrect opinions that are not based on actual facts can do real damage.  Do you really want to be one of those people who hurts an entire group?  Well, we know that none of *our* readers would, but occasionally people find their way to us via google.  If you’re in that situation and you say stuff like this, knock it off.

What are incorrect “opinions” that you find annoying, gifted-related or other?


I constantly knock on wood.  I even carry some around with me just in case.  I hope the wood spirits bring me luck.

I throw salt over my shoulder whenever I use some in cooking, or spill some elsewhere.  I want to appease some sort of spirit with that.

There’s a song that whenever I hear it I get bad interpersonal luck.  I hate that song.

I like to think when something bad happens to me, it’s saving up karma for something good in the future.

I cross myself when the airplane takes off.

I believe it is tempting fate to say something like, “I’m all caught up on all my work!”  (Related:  “I have no more referee reports to do.”)

What are your superstitions?  Or are you too rational to have any?

holy excrement, I win!

So BOTH convention hotels were full in DC.  I dreaded the thought of finding another hotel and going over my proposed budget.

I feel like I hit the total jackpot ‘cuz I found an awesome Bed and Breakfast through

And it was the same price or less than the convention hotel, as well as being only half a mile away (which hopefully is a lovely walk in the early summer morning right past the national zoo and not too hot yet, I hope!).

I WIN!!!!!!!!!!! is my new BFF, sorry #2.
What do you all use to help plan trips?

Link Love

So, um, yeah, this week has been crazy busy.  One of us is grading.  The other of us is crushed under the weight of administrative SNAFUs interfering with research.

Bonners billions neatly explains how amortization works differently than revolving debt, and that means prepaying your mortgage might be better than paying off a higher interest debt depending on the numbers.

New information on the Medicaid experiment from Oregon.  We’ll be talking about this in a post more at some point in the future if we ever get some time to write it.

“The big news is that Medicaid virtually wiped out crippling medical expenses among the poor: The percentage of people who faced catastrophic out-of-pocket medical expenditures (that is, greater than 30 percent of annual income) declined from 5.5 percent to about 1 percent. In addition, the people on Medicaid were about half as likely to experience other forms of financial strain—like borrowing money or delaying payments on other bills because of medical expenses.”

“The other big finding was that people on Medicaid ended up with significantly better mental health: The rate of depression among Medicaid beneficiaries was 30 percent lower than the rate of depression among people who remained uninsured.”

Miser mom has been updating.

Justin Wolfers makes me laugh sometimes.  Cupcake deflation.

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