Another late link love

Yeah, we’ve been kind of falling down on the job with these.  #1 blames her ipad making it a pain to do the links.  She’s not sure what #2’s excuse is.

And of course gmail is having problems right now so grabbing the links we collected is being SLOW.  There we go, it’s better now.

I just had to go through a video training that was almost identical to this.  No fast-fowarding, no letting you skip ahead.  And she was reading slowly off the slides.  STOP READING THINGS OFF THE SLIDES.  I CAN READ.

Not sure what to make of this article about qwerty keyboards.  Have we been told lies or is there an element of truth?

I miss Dr. Tingle.

Simon is totally not lame.  He’s pretty darn awesome.  It’s neat how some people who are internet peeps work hard and find fulfillment.  It’s sad how some people have a flash of fame and money and are irresponsible and always searching for the next big thrill and never do find happiness, except in small doses.

Delicious literary cakes.

Adults can get whooping cough, thanks to noted baby-killer Jenny McCarthy.

Employers want college graduates who know how to write.  (This just in…)

I already knew that Feynman was an asshole (like one of the commenters, I found out in high school shortly after reading that same passage in The Double Helix, though that galvanized me to want to go into science… wasn’t until I actually experienced sexism myself… moving on…)  But here’s some more Feynman was a misogynist asshole stories.

Irony on yoisthisracist

the joys of student statements

An update on mouse obesity— maybe it’s not related.

And now for some seriously hot guys:

(Salt and Pepa were AWESOME.  Though knowing that two of them have kids in college now makes us feel a little old.)

Ask the grumpies: why does the patriarchy think it owns pregnant women?

Rented life asks:

Why is it every time I make a comment about how you shouldn’t comment/touch/etc pregnant women, some asshat needs to tell me that “like it or not” pregnant women are seen as public property? (I’d frankly argue ALL women are seen this way but I won’t fill up this comment with why). That these things are primal urges and I should just accept them? Hello slippery slope.

I know the short answer is patriarchy, but seriously, I am tired of having to work so hard against this.

Yeah, it’s the patriarchy.  You have our sympathy.

Sympathy and related complaints from the Grumpy peanut gallery?

Fun books that our parents read as young adults

And we read at the library as teens…

I wonder if our kids could do the same or if they’re long gone?  Ah, the glorious 60s.

Richard Armour wrote a series of brilliant hilariously funny lite-history books, with titles starting, “It all started with…”  It All Started With Eve, It All Started with Columbus, It All Started With Europa: Being an Undigested History of Europe from Prehistoric Man to the Present, Proving That We Remember Best Whatever Is Least Important, and so on.  I devoured these in the non-fiction adult’s section.   Twisted Tales From Shakespeare was another fun one.

Peg Bracken wrote a brilliant cookbook called The I Hate to Cook Book.  I recently purchased another copy and read through it, marveling at how nice it is that women are no longer responsible for 100% of the cooking.  And how many of the recipes in there were already familiar to me– things I know how to make from memory because my mother and everybody else’s mother made them too.

Jean Kerr wrote a series of books collecting delightful essays together.  She was in the humor section.  (Please Don’t Eat the Daisies was made into a movie.)  I remember most her essay about why she writes– because she has children and she wants to sleep in and therefore must make enough money to hire a nanny.  Sleep is an excellent reason/way to choose a career.

Erma Bombeck was not quite as good as Jean Kerr, but still good to read.

I suppose James Thurber will still be around and not forgotten… his stuff probably qualifies as classics.

What are your favorite books from the 50s, 60s, and 70s?

How to write a good personal statement for grad school in our social science fields


1.  Tell a story about your research interests.  (Not a story about your personality.  Not a story about your feelings.)  A story that explains what research interests are driving you to graduate school and why this graduate school can help you fulfill your professional goals.
2.  What questions/fields are you specifically interested in?
3.  What is your research experience?
4.  (Advanced)  How would you go about answering the questions you’re interested in and how would graduate school help you answer them?
5.  Use specific examples.
6.  Get proofreading help!  Show it to your professors or employers (depending on where you are in your current career) or whoever it is that is writing recommendation letters for you.
Do not:
1.  Start a personal statement with, “Ever since I was…” or “I have always…”
2.  Talk about your personality.  This is not a college application, this is a graduate school application.
3.  Talk about your non-academic dreams.  Ditto on the college application difference.  Well-rounded for graduate school means an entering class interested in different sub-fields.
4.  Put this off to the last minute and do a shoddy job.
Academic grumpeteers, what recommendations would you have for writing an application statement for graduate school?

Dreaming of money

DH may or may not get an offer for a full-time job this week, one that he would very much enjoy doing that matches his skill-set perfectly.  The problem being that the company isn’t sold on hiring another telecommuter. But he also did better on the programming part of interview than anybody they’ve been interviewing for the full-time programming position, and that’s not even his specialty.  It’s also possible that he’ll get some contract work from that company instead of a full-time offer.

If he does get this job, he’ll have to travel more, potentially to both coasts (the company is on one coast, but the hardware for a client is on the other).  This weekend he’s gone for his grandma’s 80th birthday celebration and I’m seeing what it’s like with the two kids without him around.  DC2 is amazingly taking a nap right now, otherwise there would be no Monday post, as #2 is at a conference sans internets.  (DC2 doesn’t always nap on weekends, but ze has a cold and has been incredibly destructive this morning.  We both fell asleep during a nursing session around 2pm.)  I think if there’s more travel, then I might need to hire some help just to get by.  We’ll see.  DC1 is super helpful (ze is currently enjoying the nap to play scratch).

Also last week with all the interview prep and so on we ended up getting take-out twice.  That’ll probably happen more with DH working too.

So last week, with dreams of $ in my head, I sat down with some take-home pay calculators on the internets and looked to see what a salary of 85K (which is the lowest he thinks he’d take for a full-time position with travel etc., depending on the benefits package and other things) actually ends up being in terms of income.  It was probably jumping the gun, and may end up in heart-break this coming week, but it was a nice dream.

85K is more than DH made as a professor (spousal hire meant a lower salary than the other two profs they hired that year).  It would mean about 6K/month more income (for 12 months of the year!) than what we’re doing now.  The additional expenses I’ve mentioned above don’t really cut into that much at all (heck, we could start eating at our favorite $ushi place again and it wouldn’t make much of a dent).  Most of that money can go places.

First up we’d have to determine if we’re IRA eligible for the year, and if not if we want to do a back-door ROTH or just go with maxing out our retirement options.  Maxing out my own work retirement subtracts something like 33K from our take-home pay.  We still have a bunch to play with after that.  We’d like give a donation to DC1’s school again.  We could have other people come and fix up some of the things that need fixing up in our house.  We could pay down the mortgage, with it completely gone in 2-3 years.  Or we could save up for a sabbatical someplace fun and expensive.  DH might get a smartphone.

I could keep a smaller kitty in savings because we’d be getting summer income and because next month’s income will replenish the emergency fund in case of an emergency.

I could not worry about the 4.5K we lost at the preschool that went out of business.

I could brag about our 40%+ savings rate on Financial Independence fora (I won’t, but I totally could).

One of my colleagues complained recently about how Social Security is so unfair because all those lazy housewives get to keep their husband’s benefit when they become widows.  And one man can marry 3 housewives in a row, and so long as they stayed together at least 10 years, his check will support all three of them.  I responded that I make so much money even without DH working, and Social Security provides such a bare minimum (not to mention it’s less expensive to just give them money than to put them through DI and other programs that require screening), that I really can’t begrudge them that.  (Ze, who makes significantly more than I do, replied I wouldn’t feel that way with two kids about to go to college, but I have kids in private school and in daycare which each cost as much as a state school, so that warning doesn’t fadge.)  (I guess the point of that little digression is that even if we get rich again, I’m still for higher taxes for people who make lots of money!)

That jump from not having enough money to having enough money is huge, but the jump from having enough to having more than enough is pretty nice too.  So even though I’m making a bit more than we spend right now (not counting the recent 4.5K loss, and in the long term we’ll need another ~20K/year), it sure would be nice to go back to making a ton more than we need.  As much as I’d miss DH having free time and flexibility (which, admittedly, is worth an awful lot to me), there’s something to be said for not having to worry about money at all.

So, hopefully this will pan out.  If it doesn’t we’re no worse off, but it was a nice dream.

link love

CNN summarizes a lot of the misinformation about people losing their ACA plans.  It also explains why club thrifty has so few choices– a number of insurance companies are hoping that the plans that join the exchanges now will attract all the truly sick people who won’t shop around, staying on those early plans, and then they’re planning on coming in the market a year later with lower prices in order to sweep up all the healthy people.  So in a year there will be more choice and prices will settle.

Another debunked ACA story.

What the hell is wrong with you? Who opposes healthy babies?  From mike the mad biologist.

We’d like to read our regular reader’s comments on this not of general interest post.  So go over there and make some.  :)

The chronicle of higher ed publishes a lame patrarichy-spreading click-bait non-book-review.  Read all about it from historiann.

Yeah, this yoisthisracist post pretty much sums things up.

It’s the little things from ombailamos.

This post not for the article, but for the better book tales down at the bottom.

Interesting tufts magazine feature.

Pottery barn catalog as written by an aspiring crime novelist.

getcha google answers here

Q:  how to teach a child to be well behaved in a group

A:  If you figure out the answer to this one, be sure to sell it.

Q:  do my students write awful things about me

A:  probably… but most likely it isn’t a big deal, they’re just temporarily frustrated with having to learn stuff

Q:  tiaa cref life funds?

A:  Sure!

Q:  why it’s important to work a minimum wage job

A:  It’s not.  Not even if you’re an over-privileged Fox news commentator.  Turns out they don’t learn any good life lessons from that.

Q:  should i give a christening gift after ive given a substantial baby gift?

A:  It is totally up to you.

Q:  does anyone love their vertical blinds

A:  people love all sorts of hideous things

Q:  can temp work hurt you in the long run

A:  oh man, I just read a paper with this as a side-finding and I think the answer is no.  Though logically it depends on what the temp work is replacing– it’s probably better to do career work than temp work and temp work than nothing.  YMMV.

Q:  how do i tell my in laws who have grown up kids i wont be buying them chrismas pressents from now on ?

A:  politely?  Or passive-aggressively.  Or not at all…

Q:  why are my kids so grumpy after preschool

A:  Not enough naps.  Also possibly hunger.

Q: what is going on in education these days

A:  First generation of entirely NCLB is reaching college.  Joy of joys.  At least the whole language cohorts seem to have finally passed through and these kids can read even if they can’t think critically.  Critical thinking is a little easier for us to teach than reading.

Why none love for the MILs?

Mother-in-law jokes are seemingly ubiquitous.  And pernicious.

What is up with the pervasive and destructive cultural meme that women can’t get along with their in-laws, specifically their mothers-in-law?


Fig. 1: Monsters-in-law?

For the record, I love my in-laws.  It’s awesome when we see them or when they come stay with us.  They are fun people and we all get along really well.  I wish we could spend time with them more often!

It’s disrespectful to all parties to imply that women and their MILs don’t get along.  It implies that women can’t be friends (in many versions, because they fight over a man, the husband/son).  It also implies, in many versions, that the mother needs to control her adult son, which is terrible for both of them (maybe because she is trying to live vicariously through him because as an older woman, she has no life except her children and grandchildren).

It says that adult women can’t have mature, reasonable conversations about points of disagreement, instead letting resentment simmer and seethe for years, usually in a passive-aggressive way.  It says the MIL does not respect her son’s wife, and that she can’t be polite about this.  There is also the problem of the husband/son not having his wife’s back, not telling his mother to back off… the implication that there is a contest for affection… the implication that the MIL even needs to back off… the problem where the man puts his mom above his wife.  SO MANY PROBLEMS!

It’s true that you won’t always get along with your in-laws, just like you won’t always get along with any random set of people, even if you are related.  But we don’t have to degenerate into society-wide melodrama about it.

I see this relationship in media all the time and it never fails to induce hulk-y rage.  My in-laws are good people and have welcomed me into the family.  Let’s stop pitting women against each other over issues of control, identity, and a man in the middle.  Can’t we all just get along?

#2 notes that her mom thinks #2’s partner is fantastic (and more than once has expressed surprise that #2 managed to find someone so great, thanks mom).  Also, #2’s partner’s mom has helped her with research in the past!  It doesn’t get that much more collegial than that.

Readers, hit us up with positive stories of your in-laws!

warm and fuzzy student things

One of the joys of my job is that I get to remove math phobia from students.  I teach a required math course for social science majors, many of whom come from backgrounds that are not math heavy.  Often this is the first math course they’ve taken since high school.  Many of them think they’re just not good at math.  I spend a lot of time filling in gaps of their knowledge, even doing silly things like going over every step of simplifying a fraction or solving for X, you know, just in case.  (I do this because my Calc 1 instructor SUCKED and I learned almost all of Calc 1 while taking Calc 2 from a different professor at the local university because he would go through every single step of what I’d missed whenever we needed to know it.)  I do extra tutoring in office hours.  I constantly push the growth mindset on students.

From about midterms to getting final grades, my students start to realize that hey, maybe they’re not so bad at math after all.  This week has been especially warm and fuzzy with students popping by during office hours to confide in me that they’re actually “getting” the class, something they thought impossible. (Last week they discovered and informed me that they’re several weeks ahead of the other section and have had much more difficult homework assignments– this has become a point of pride with them.)

Lots of students mentioned in office hours that it’s all coming together on this week’s homework.

One gentleman told me that his entire life he’s taken the easy way out, doing things that maximize how impressive they sound while minimizing actual need for thinking.  This semester he’s taken some (gen-ed fulfilling) classes from our department, including mine, and they’ve challenged him and he’s risen to the challenge and he’s realized he likes to be challenged.  He came by to tell me he’s changed his major to our department from communications.  He’s actually the second person to tell me this week that (s)he’s switched into our major because my class wasn’t anywhere near as frightening as (s)he had thought it would be, not because it’s easy, but because (s)he can do it.

Another woman stopped by to tell me that she’s always been terrified of math and never thought she’d ever be able to do anything with computers, but she feels really powerful whenever she uses her statistical software on the homework.  She can’t wait to take my (more difficult, semi-elective) class next semester.

A senior stopped me in the hall and told me how surprised she’d been to see that A on her transcript last semester, an A she’d earned in my harder semi-elective.  The stuff she learned has been helping her this semester too.

It’s been a warm and fuzzy week.

Do you have any warm and fuzzy student stories to share?

November Mortgage Update

Last month (October):
Balance: $73,085.37
Years left: 5.75
P =$920.78, I = $293.62, Escrow = 613.58

This month (November):
Balance: $71,988.26
Years left: 5.67
P =$925.11, I = $289.30, Escrow = 613.58

One month’s prepayment savings: $0.68

I should be talking a bit about our housing prices (thus property taxes) going up, so pre-payment will be going down (though that hasn’t been reflected in the escrow yet), but here’s an update on DH instead and some wonderings…

DH has been unemployed for a few months now.  He’s been diligently networking and taking care of things and has thankfully been there during the great daycare scramble of 2013.

He had one “client” a month or two back for a small thing who never did get around to signing his contract and thus got some work from DH for nothing (we know we know) and then the deadline passed without having DH complete the work because the project manager put everything off to the last minute and then did it all hirself because it was too late for anyone else to do anything.  So that was a bust, but it was only 1-3 days of work that he missed out on doing and only 3 hours that he wasted without pay.  UPDATE:  They just emailed– the project manager’s attempt was a failure.  Sounds like it is too late to fix.  But they want him to invoice for the time he worked on the project.

Right now he’s got 3 promising leads, all of them from people he has worked with in the past.  One of them is talking about offering him a full-time job.  He’d actually done an informational interview with them back this summer, but they wanted someone local instead of someone telecommuting.  They haven’t been able to fill the position so they gave him a call.  He’s got a second round interview next week that includes a programming test.  They seem to think this will happen.

One of the questions was whether DH wanted to work as a contractor or full-time.  DH said it would depend on the packages offered.  (He didn’t say DUH of course there’s a $ value that would push him towards one or the other; most people don’t think like economists.)

He knows his consulting rate/range.  But he doesn’t know what sort of salary to ask for as his bottom-line.  I don’t know either.

We looked up the salaries on Glassdoor for this company and they’re kind of on the low end, between 75K and 100K, mostly in the 85K range, but there are only 8 salaries listed so who knows how representative they are.   It also doesn’t say much about what the benefits are, though the health insurance package will be a lot nicer than the one I get because the company’s in a blue state.

The company would allow him to work mostly from home, but it would also require him to fly in once a month or once every two months.   The work would be fulfilling and meaningful and he’d be able to work directly with someone he works with very well.  He also fits exactly what they want and can do things that the company needs but didn’t advertise for in this position.  But full-time work is less flexible than contract work and it’s harder to change the terms of a contract when you’re not constantly rewriting it.

So assuming he passes their second-round interview and they give him an offer, he’d like to have an idea of what kind of salary should be his walk-away point for a full-time position.  We don’t need his income (or rather, we don’t need more than 20K), and I have to say that flexibility is really nice to have.  85K seems kind of low to me (though truthfully that’s more than his previous 9-month salary), but is it low enough to walk away from?  I dunno.

Oh, as for the other leads, one of them is sort of iffy– it’s a remote half-time SBIR kind of thing that he’s about 2/3 qualified for (he’d be picking up a new skill that’s not his core competency).   The other is a standard SF/Bay area start-up with funding, similarly offering either full-time or consulting, and DH knows more about some of the technology behind the project than his friend who founded the company, though it isn’t exactly a perfect match for his skill-set.  It’s a new company so no info on glassdoor, just that they offer “a competitive start-up package for the bay area,” whatever that means.  We don’t know as much about this option yet, and he’s set to talk about it more in a week or two.

So anyway, that’s our update.  I’m hopeful that we’ll get a little more income so I can stop worrying about things like losing 4.5K on a daycare prepayment and so on.  But we’ll be ok.  It’s hard to complain when you’re in a situation that 85K sounds like a small salary.