Link Love

Famous authors speak out about harassment at conventions.  And it happens all the time(!)  And their stories are similar– it’s the same guys over and over again, never being forced to stop.  That it should become expected and considered the norm is beyond the pale.  It needs to stop.  Here are Maria Dahvana Headley, Cherie Priest(!), Kat Howard, Stephanie Vahn, the original Elise Matthesen post… I’m sure there’s more we’re missing.  Related is an excellent discussion by Mary Robinette Kowal— there are some horror stories in the comments as well.

There is a war on women going on at the state level.  This week I gave money to planned parenthood in honor of Wendy Davis.  But Texas is going to try to limit women’s right to choose again on July 1st.  What can we do?

On a lighter note, here’s one path to making ring wraiths.

Kory Stamper with editorial correspondence I can’t send.

Excelsior Bev with a cute baby picture.

Little white lion with a clean bathroom.

Geeks vs nerds scientific-like.

Tiny cat pants with something scary weird if true.

Star turtle needed.

Oh, and back to feminisms.  If you’ve had too much time since your last discussion of choice feminism and/or leaning out, Not of general interest and Ferule and Fescue both provide outlets.

Also… a dream shattered.  To think I cried when he died because I’d never get to meet him.  At least my other childhood hero, Martin Gardner, is still reputed to be a stand-up citizen and all around nice guy.

BTW, we were going to eventually finish this abortion post (based on an article by Judith Jarvitz Thompson), but Jim C. Hines wrote it this week instead.

Finally, we were an editor’s pick in last week’s carnival of personal finance.  WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Google me this

Q:  what if i don’t sleep train

A:  Then the world ends and it is all your fault.  Thanks for playing.  Just kidding!  If you don’t sleep train your kid will most likely sleep on hir own at some point.  It’ll be ok.

Q:  depression has sucked the life out of me whats the point

A:  We could give a really flip answer here about chocolate or dried food bits under the couch, but instead we’ll take it seriously and tell you, please get help.  Make a call to your doctor, a friend, or a hotline [link to hotline here].

Q:  what are the average grades of a preschooler who takes regular naps

A:  Um… preschools give grades?

Q:  is tiaa-cref or vanguard better

A:  Vanguard, but TIAA-CREF is great too.  Also, if you need a little more handholding, TIAA-CREF is a little better at that, and may be worth the small additional expense to get it.

Q:  do you have to have plans every weekend

A:  Laura Vanderkam says yes.  We say, “Hell NO.”

Q:  each generation believes that their generation is better than the next generation. why is this true and untrue? please support your answer.

A:  Did your professor SAY you could completely plagiarize from the internet?  We’re guessing no.

Q:  money mustache realistic?

A:  I don’t see why not.  Is he replicable?  Well, if your utility function looks *exactly* like his, then sure.  But don’t worry, there are lots of perfectly wonderful lives you can be leading that don’t involve owning a giant house, running a carpentry business, biking everywhere, having exactly one kid, etc.

Q:  can you pay someones property taxes and they still have a mortgage

A:  Yes

Q:  grades in grad school?

A:  Yes, usually there are, at least for the first couple years.

Q:  does a moustache make you grumpy

A:  Depends upon how skritchy it is when kissing.  (And, of course, only my partner’s moustache or lack thereof matters.)

Telepathy in fiction

We read a lot of fantasy and speculative fiction around here.  The other day I was reflecting on how the use of telepathy in fiction is HILARIOUS.

Telepathy is SUCH a convenient plot device for a writer.  Want another character to know something?  They’re telepathic!  Want them to NOT know something?  The other person is telepathically shielding!  It’s the greatest dodge ever.

The device is so cheesy, and yet so useful (thinking as a writer).  Broadcast a mental distress call!  Or suddenly get cut off from contact!  Aliens are telepathic.  Or they’re the only ones who aren’t.  They have a hive-mind.  A stranger lands in a strange society.  How to deal with being mind-blind… or being the only one who isn’t.  What is the nature of individuality, of community, of self?  Are there special pair-bonds that let you hear each other?  Is there one-way or two-way or multi-way communication?  Feelings only (telempathy), thoughts only, or both?  Two or more humans?  A human and a magical animal?  So!  Many! Plots!

Sometimes I think it would be fun to be telepathically projecting for a while, but then I realize that would only stir the pot and people would come out with pitchforks.

Readers, we rely on you for amusement and chuckles.  Have you seen this done really well?  What should we read?  Or, have you seen it done ludicrously badly?  Spill!

What’s your theme music?

My sister was recently maid of honor at her best friend’s wedding.

For the reception, they requested that she pick some music to introduce her before her speech or something.

“So, basically, they want you to pick your own theme music?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she replied.

“That seems like a trap!” I said.

“I know!  If it weren’t a wedding, I’d pick Don’t Rain on My Parade, but somehow it doesn’t seem fitting.  Or Loads of Lovely Love from No Strings.”

“You just want money, a nice position, and loads of lovely love?”

“Who doesn’t?” she asked.  “How about Side by Side by Side?”

“Company is so bittersweet.  Really anything Sondheim isn’t wedding appropriate.”

“Nope.  If I can’t think of anything good I’m defaulting to Dancing Queen, or maybe Good Morning Baltimore cause I used to wake [best friend] up to that.  Or maybe Come So Far to Go, but that might be insulting,” and then it was time for her to board the airplane.

So I asked around.  My partner suggested the Knight Rider theme song, or Magnum PI, but I think that we’re of a slightly different generation than she is.  My mom noted she probably shouldn’t do “Baby I Was Born This Way.”  No mom, she probably shouldn’t.

In the end, she went with “Friendship” from Anything Goes.  Which is a nice song (and better for a wedding than Bosom Buddies!), but maybe not so much of a theme song for an individual.

I have to admit, I’d be kind of stumped on this question if I were asked.  Maybe Loads of Lovely Love after all… she’s right– who doesn’t want money, a nice position, and loads of lovely love?

#2 says: I’ve always thought about what should be my theme music, but nothing seems great enough to truly capture me.

What’s your theme song?

Expanded ramblings on extreme living

I like restaurants and fancy food and not biking in Southern heat.  That doesn’t make me a complainypants.  Also, there’s no way we’re jettisoning daycare or private school.

I’m ambitious and competitive, and a career is a safe place to be that.  However, if I wanted to super-size focus on that, I’d do more outsourcing.  We really don’t do much of that other than regular daycare and a meal or two a week.

I don’t want to make the sacrifices to be an extreme frugalista.  I don’t want to make the sacrifices to be at the tippity top of my field.  The end goal of either of those outcomes isn’t what I want either.

Sure, I’d love to be financially independent.  But not enough to go extreme with early retirement.  I like my career.   We couldn’t both quit and live off our savings now unless we wanted to move back to DH’s hometown (pop 3000 and falling) or someplace similar.  That is to say, we could totally early retirement extreme on what we have saved now, but we don’t WANT to.  Not if it means homesteading someplace with bad libraries.  I like fancy food and access to culture and so on.  Not to say that extreme retirement bloggers don’t have those, but they are potential trade-offs depending on where you settle and how much you have saved.

As much as we love our wonderful children, there’s no way on earth we could spend 24/7 alone with our non-sleeping incredibly active brilliant progeny.  Sure, once they’re both school-age, but not before they can both entertain themselves.  Outsourcing hours of childcare is a must.  Childcare and private school alone are 20K/year, and that’s non-negotiable.  (I always roll my eyes a bit at the “other people raising your children” garbage… I’d love to see them spend a 24 hour period alone with our well-behaved but energetic kids without getting completely worn out.  Even my super-fit little sister can’t handle it.)

I like being able to throw money at problems.  I would get bored without a career and I’d rather make money than, say, turn off the a/c when it is 100+ degrees outside.  I wouldn’t be happy with a lot of the things many retirement bloggers do to entertain themselves in their free time– without a career I would need more expensive things to keep me busy (or I would get into trouble).  Either books or the ability to live someplace with awesome libraries.  Travel (which I get enough of through work now) without slumming (camping:  not my idea of a good time).  Housework (other than cooking) just isn’t my idea of fun.   I grew up in an ERE-like household in many respects and I’m done with it.  I like having and spending money on things like a/c and a dishwasher.

We have made sacrifices in the past to get where we are today.  Fancy cheese eating didn’t come until we were debt free and had a nice lump of saving.  We took care of ourselves before getting luxuries, but luxuries are nice.

I’m not putting as much time and effort into my career as I could because I do spend some time taking care of family and house things.  I don’t plan all my free time to squeeze every ounce of productivity out of it.  Outsourcing everything is a pain because good help is hard to find.  Doing some chores like laundry together is a fun family activity in our house. I tend not to buy stuff.

It shouldn’t seem so odd to have to justify why you’re not going to extremes either way.  Most of us who are living below our means enjoy some of the nicer things in life while investing but not putting everything into our careers.  And yet, if you spend too much time on the internet, sometimes it feels brave and daring to say no, I’m not going to bike in this heat.  And no, I’m not going to hire someone to do my laundry.  And to say both of those at the same time, when they seemingly contradict themselves… horror.

But that’s kind the way things are for most of us.  Diminishing marginal returns set in at a certain point and we end up investing and saving and spending about where we want to be (given our budget constraints).  And that’s a good thing!  Even if it doesn’t pay the bills from our blog incomes.  Balance is harder to sell than extremes.

Do you practice and/or preach extreme living?  Where do you fall on the spectrum?  Are you a point or a range?

link love

The GOP is at it again with their war on women.

Beangirls talks about leaving academic science.

Cheese and responsibility is back from vacation.

Feral homemaking turned our snippy comment post on its head and asked what makes you want to read a blog.

Dame Eleanor discusses the role of overconfidence on doing anything hard!

Not of general interest discusses that slate article on women, children and academia.

Ferule and Fescue with some great tips for new faculty members, especially regarding that whole don’t get paid for a while thing.

Jane Eyre for babies.  Not sure how we feel about that.

Intersectionality, a fun guide by Miriam Dobson.

Tenured Radical points out that we are obviously at the wrong school in the wrong positions.  Also she provides reasons to quit your job— we think the parking one is totally reasonable.

Zia Narratora with an example of unintentional implicit bias.  The interesting thing is that 15% were women, meaning it seemed to the dude like there were equal numbers.

Ombailamos says, here’s a book.

The oatmeal discusses living with your significant other.  (NSFW!)

Baby didn’t get the time to sleep memo.

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

Ask the grumpies: Delay getting the book out?

Sapience asks:

Do you have any suggestions on this issue for someone who is in a book field, but isn’t going straight into a TT position? I have a 3-year post-doc that I’m starting, and some faculty at my doctoral institution have cautioned me against getting my book out too early, because then it might not count for tenure if/when I manage to get a TT. But getting a contract would probably help me actually land a tenure track position. I do have articles in the pipeline (one not related to the diss that is in a collection that just got a contract, and one spun-off from the diss that I presented at a conference last May). I’ll add that I’m unsure whether or not I need a break from the dissertation topic; I’m not sick of it at all yet, but I can’t tell if I need more perspective on the project before I begin the heavy lifting of revising.

So, take our advice with a grain of salt, and let’s hope we get lots of feedback from people who know their stuff (Dame EleanorUndineDr. CrazyHistoriann? — may have to pop over to some blogs to give a nudge).

You have more than one book in you. Your letter writers will think much more highly of you the earlier your book is published, and the sooner you make a name for yourself, the easier it will be to get more published.  Either the book will be a book once you’ve started your job and it will count, or it will be a book before you’ve started your job and that makes you a bit of a rockstar, and chances are you’ll have a second book out before you’re up for tenure.  And that will mean stronger letters, and a better position.

So, see what happens, and don’t intentionally work less.  Continue to work on your book and to produce articles.

If you’re not sick of the topic, go ahead and start revising!

Grumpy Nation, what advice do you have for Sapience?

When will we leave a sharply worded comment on your post?

You have been warned… !

These are gathered from general patterns across the blogosphere, not from anyone’s particular blog.  (Well, except #4.  Thank goodness we’ve only seen one blog that does that.)

  1. When you claim that it is poor people’s fault for being poor, or black people’s fault for being unemployed, or Hispanic people’s fault you don’t have a job, and similar things.  (Note:  these are not true.)
  2. When you attack a woman’s children because she is successful and thus cannot be doing a decent job of raising her kids.  (Note:  this is not true and there are better ways to justify your lifestyle choices.  If you need to attack someone else’s choices that they have no cause to complain about, then perhaps it is time to re-examine your own.)
  3. When you’re always blaming other people for your problems.  We try really hard to avoid these blogs but occasionally (we click on a tantalizing headline off someone’s blogroll and) we snap.  And although in this case, our comment is generally gently worded, we have made an enemy for life (because, oh yeah, you see the worst of every single interaction you’re in).
  4. When you sexualize infants, children, and attachment parenting.  That is just MESSED UP.
  5. When you’re always complaining about the SAME THING and then you go and make BAD CHOICES that are going to result in the same thing you’re always complaining about only worse.  We don’t mind complaining about the same thing if it’s justified (it’s not your fault your ex isn’t paying child-support), we don’t even mind what kinds of foolish choices you make with your money, it’s the digging yourself into a deeper hole just so you can complain even more that gets to us.  We try reallly hard to never read your blog again, but sometimes Schadenfreude wins, and when that happens sometimes we say something even though we know it won’t do any good.
    • #1 has much more of a hair-trigger on this one than does #2. #2 is hamstrung by the fact that my browser keeps logging me out of wordpress, so leaving comments becomes a several-step process and by then I don’t care anymore.
    • #1 notes that isn’t true– #1 is much better at not visiting said blogs.
  6. When you tell everybody that your life choice is the One True Path and that everybody else is destroying their children, is a wimp, a spendthrift, a loser, and so on.
  7. When you say that other people are not doing enough even though you’re not doing anything yourself.  Example:  telling infertile couples they should just adopt when you haven’t adopted, saying that people who don’t send their kids to public school are selfish when you’re not supporting public schools (this one even inspired a post)
  8. When you say that worrying about education for gifted kids is a terrible thing and you should let kids be kids.  Or that kids need to stay with their same-age peers.  Or that there’s no reason for kids to read early.  Hulk smash.

What gets you ticked off enough to be snippy?  We already know Cloud doesn’t roll that way, but what about the rest of you?


  • My new nephew was over 11lb when born.  Vaginally.
  • Our new department chair is a dick.  He told me to stop playing the gender card.  When I then explained about how small incivilities hit genders differentially ON OUR CAMPUS (I’m on this university-wide committee and they did a study), he told me that his wife experienced real sexism and was brave enough to combat it.  I’m like… wha?  It’s like a double whammy of oppression olympics and my best friend is black (only in this case, I’m married to a woman who is more oppressed than you could ever be).  (Hint:  while that is terrible and your wife is to be commended, that has nothing to do with incivilities hitting female faculty more than male faculty on our campus.)
  • Was at another one of DC1’s friend’s parents’ excellent parties.  This time the woman who was bitching about the mom doing the awesome party last time bitched about:  1.  her husband, 2.  how being a housewife means she needs to have a perfect house but she can never get to her level of perfection and she hates people who can, 3.  the teacher, 4.  the school, 5.  after school activities, 6.  her husband (again)… and a lot more I’m not remembering off the top of my head.  She’s having her son shadow at the Catholic school in town.  But hey, at least she didn’t bitch about the hostess this time.
  • When I decided to make an effort to stop changing people (bad former habit of mine), I stopped liking so many people.   I think that’s related.
  • It is nice when all the questions that a referee poses are answered in the article the referee recommends you include in your paper.  “Cite me here!”  Yessir, I will do that!
  • I keep having the same conversation with my students, “Dr. #1, I keep trying to do this thing and I keep getting an error code, could it be because [something that makes no sense]?” “What does the error code say?”  “Huh, I don’t know, let me see.  It says [something totally reasonable]”  “Then I think your problem is [something totally reasonable].  Does it say anything else?”  “It says to try [suggested solution]”  “Did you try [suggested solution]?” “No.” “Try [suggested solution].” “Oh hey, that worked.  Thanks Dr. #1!”
Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: . 46 Comments »

Money can’t buy me love

But it sure can make our lives easier!

Remember what, 13 years ago?

We were about to move to a new city (well, technically we were about to drive to Canada, but in a few weeks it would be a new city).  We had about 4K total to our name, much of it saved up from my work-study jobs in college.  When we got to the city, we slept on the floor of a friend from college at night and searched for housing during the day.  We ended up in a tiny 10×10 apartment.  We had to borrow money from my parents to put down a deposit.  We walked everywhere because we couldn’t afford the 70 cents to take the subway until school started and we got our subway passes along with our stipends.  We bought used kitchen equipment for $20 and a terrible desk for $10 from some people who were leaving, and a new futon for $120 and a paste-board dresser for $80.  As the pastor who married us suggested, we ate a lot of macaroni and cheese.

We bought an overpriced bed with that first stipend (after paying my parents back), and a Le Creuset pot.  I remember calling my dad before making the purchase because he’s the most skin-flinty person I know.  He argued that we spend more time on the mattress than any other place and it’s important to get a good night’s sleep.  Also Le Creuset pots last forever.  In retrospect, we should have tried to bargain the guy down on the mattresses, but it did last 10 years without problem (although the salesman swore it would be good for 15).  We had to put that purchase on three different credit cards because we didn’t have enough of a line of credit to put it on one.  The guys at the shop said they broke up purchases like that all the time.

We ate mostly vegetarian and lots of cheap starches.  We’d go to the open air market once a week and stock up on veggies, and then we’d rush home to process them before they went bad.  Soon after school started, we got an offer to move to student housing– a two room 10×30 apartment for the same price.  We jumped at the chance and broke our lease.  We didn’t lose all of our deposit though because our old place filled up very soon after we left.  After a year we had enough saved to pay for car insurance, and we retrieved my car from my sister, complete with shiny new dents.  (That a lot of random people in the city wanted us to know they could fix whenever they saw us in a parking lot.)

After two years there, we moved to be RAs.  Our apartment was still two rooms, but smaller, and we shared a kitchen with the students.  Saving 20K/year on rent, we were able to save quite a bit of money.  We bought a video projector which we still have.  I can’t believe we just had to get a new bulb for it.  We’re growing older, my beautiful love.

After two years of that, we realized we’d need more time to finish our dissertations, and left the students.  We had a hard time deciding between a smaller apartment and greater savings or a bigger apartment and finally having some space to ourselves, maybe getting a cat.  One of your labmates told us her apartment building had two openings, and we visited, and we picked a large apartment.  It was expensive and falling apart, but oh, in such a lovely neighborhood.  And the kitchen was tiny and awful, so we had a granite-top bureau made to extend the kitchen space to our dining room.  We also impulse-bought an expensive butcher block that we don’t need and has been a pain to move, and a lovely dining room table.  Our dining room here looks a lot like our dining room there, though we no longer use the butcher block except to hold our knives.  We traveled out to the suburbs and bought a living room set and felt a little bit like grown-ups.

Before we even moved in, we drove out to a no-kill shelter and got our kitties.  The baby who had had babies, so tiny and yellow who became my best friend when I gave her chicken and who cleaned up to a lovely lively white and black cutie within a few days of not being surrounded by scary big cats.  The big kitty who loved on you just the right amount at the shelter and has the same heart condition as your grandma.   They’re currently reminding you of their presence through generous gifts of cat-hair, just as they have every summer.

An increase in income and change in location meant we could upscale our food choices.  Whole foods, Trader Joe’s… but we still walked to the local grocery too.  The walk to WF was nicer.  Heck, our entire neighborhood was lovely.  What a change from our first 4 years.  The radiator may not always have worked correctly and might have been prone to flooding, and the water from the pipes might sometimes have been dangerous, but we still loved that apartment.

And then with one thing and another we got jobs and with the money we’d saved we had a housing down-payment equivalent to what we’d need if we were paying on mortgage what we’d paid on rent.  Silly us, we thought we’d need a house this big.  But it’s a lovely house.  And somehow right at the top of our price range… the most expensive place we looked at.

When we first got here, after the downpayment and expected and unexpected fees and emergency expenses, we couldn’t afford to buy a w/d, or rather, we could get cheap ones, but we wanted nice ones.  So you took our laundry to the local laundromat/pub.  (Why don’t more towns have that combination?)  We were about to get new furniture when our planned second car purchase got pushed up by an F150’s sudden stop.  And then suddenly we had a baby and money and no time to get more furniture.  But we didn’t need it– toys from your parents and children’s books from mine ended up filling every available space.

We finished furnishing the house right before going on sabbatical.  Pardon, Faculty Development Leave.  We don’t have sabbaticals.  People suggested putting pictures on the wall so the place didn’t seem so bare.  So we did, from one of those cheap home furnishings places.  I’m not sure if it helped.  We split that living room set across the two living rooms.  Eventually we rented the place out, even though it was furnished.

We’d saved a year’s spending to go on that faculty development leave, and we enjoyed it to the fullest extent.  I wonder if we’ll have another year like that again.  In the end, we still had money leftover and made a pretty big dent in our mortgage when we got back.  You tried out the self-employment lifestyle that year and liked it, even though your company didn’t bring in very much.  But we didn’t mind.  Your business partners though, their wives didn’t make quite as much as yours, and they didn’t like each other as much as they both liked you.  And so the experiment ended and we went home to our regular jobs.

Back at home you toyed with keeping your job, maybe going into administration.  But your heart wasn’t in it.  So we started thinking about what we could do to make you happy with your career.  And we unexpectedly needed to start DC1 in private school.  And DC2 came along.  And now you’ve been self-employed for a month or so.

And here we are today.  Still working things out.  Happy that we saved so much so that we can have the freedom to try new things.  That we can spend on what’s important.  That we can not worry so much about so many things that aren’t important when you have money but are terrifying when you don’t.

I love you so much.  I hope that we have decades and decades more of saving and spending and living and loving together.  Life without you would be nowhere near as rich.

Related:  A year ago today.