On the importance of networks

Most jobs are found via networks.

DH found his new job via networks.  At the time he accepted, another member of his network was urging him to come out for an interview so they could give him a counter-offer.  People who know DH academically know he does good work and is responsible and amazing.  They’re willing to go to bat for him with bosses or to hire him directly as a telecommuter.

Scaring up new, local, networks had been much more difficult for DH.  He met people at happy hours and networking events.  He tapped linked in and asked former colleagues to introduce him to people.  But it didn’t get very far.  Maybe that’s because the job market here is different, or maybe it’s because the new people DH has met have no real reason to trust he’s high quality enough to go to bat for him.

But why do our older networks have these opportunities?  DH and I both went to elite graduate schools.  We also went to an elite high school.  (Our colleges were elite too but for some reason we’re not as networked there, not sure why not.  I bet my college roommate could get me a job if I needed one… but she also went to my grad school.)  Our friends have done really amazing and lucrative things with their lives.

The advantages from our high school, in particular, weren’t as obvious when we were younger.  But now many of our friends are millionaires and entrepreneurs (also professors and doctors).  They help each other out.  Heck, one guy buys up companies so he can hire his friends to work at them.

It makes me wonder about my kids… I have no desire for them to leave home for high school, but perhaps a gifted and talented high school experience will serve them well in their later years.  Well, that and DH’s family has a long history of marrying their high school sweethearts.  Maybe we should send our kids away to an academically talented boarding school for high school so that their later life will be more connected.

Have you ever tapped a network for job opportunities?  Where did you meet those people?  How did it work out?


Another late link love

I don’t know what #2’s excuse is, but I’m way behind in grading.  An the ipad is no good for making link loves.  And I have an annoying cold.  Also people are wrong on the internet and I had to correct that before finishing this this morning.

Dr. Koshary brings us office hours in opera form.  Except without all the sex.

this is really cute, especially towards the end: http://www.viralnova.com/santa-photos/

Laura Vanderkam asks about albums that conjure up memories.  She also notes you don’t have to be a SAHP.

A half baked life discusses a terrible birthday party she took her daughter to.


regression to the mean in platypus

Prof Cero says no to donating money to support a for-profit.

the more egalitarian a household is, the less housework gets done altogether.



How to peel mandarin oranges.

A cautionary note about FMRI studies.

And, as everybody has probably seen already this week, Oxford comma is your friend.

ZOMG  Owowowow.

Miser Mom shows one way of bringing more fun to Christmas chores.

oh shitballs, Texas: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2520191/Last-words-Texas-student-Cameron-Redus-shot-dead-college-cop.html

Books for 3 year olds

CPP asks:

Can you two suggest some good books for two-three year-olds? Want to buy some for our twin nieces. And if you have a blogge post on this topic, link would be great!

Three is a fun age– three year olds understand things and they can talk and they have great senses of humor.  That means you can break away from books that are just animal sounds and opposites etc. and into things that parents enjoy as well.

Probably our favorite author for this age is Mo Willems.  We especially like Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!, and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, and all the others in the Pigeon series!Knuffle Bunny, while not as much fun for the parents to read, is also enjoyed by the children.

Sandra Boynton is more popular at this age, and is always popular among parents.  Blue Hat, Green Hat is always good for a laugh.  And there’s cute little boxed sets you can get of her stuff.

If You Give the Mouse a Cookie— quite popular among the pre-school set, a bit less fun for the parents.  There’s a big series of these as well.

Llama Llama Mad at Mama is a fun one.  Again, there are others in the Llama Llama series.  Some of these others seemed a bit out of touch for kids with a working mom, but whatever.

As we mentioned in our email to you, 3-4 year olds tend to be dinosaur mad.  You can get any book about dinosaurs, fiction or non- and it will be devoured.  How do dinosaurs do X? is a cute series– even though it’s not really about dinosaurs (real dinosaurs presumably didn’t clean their rooms), it does have drawings and the names of real dinosaurs in it.  Some kids are really into Thomas the Train Engine or Dora the Explorer or construction trucks at this age, but that would be something to ask your relatives about as some kids never really get hooked by these.

And, of course, there is always Dr. Seuss.

If you dislike your relatives (the parents, not the children), you can go a bit more grim.  DC1 loved the Gruffalo, but it creeps me out.  Laura Vanderkam’s kid thinks that I Want My Hat Back is great, but my DC2 certainly does not need permission to use violence against people who take hir stuff (as that is already hir natural inclination).

Beginning readers may enjoy Step Into Reading Step 1 books.  Hot Dog was a favorite of DC1.    Cat Traps was another.  There are a whole bunch of these.

If the kids are wunderkinds, 3 is a good time to start The Magic Treehouse.  But this series is of chapter books, and most kids aren’t reading, much less reading third grade level.  We do have a post on what books a three year old who is reading chapter books would enjoy, but that’s probably not what you’re looking for.  The Magic School Bus is another fun series for the more advanced reader.

You may be thinking of chapter books that parents can read to their children at this age.  The Wizard of Oz is a good one.  Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle another good one.  Frog and Toad is another good one (who doesn’t love Arnold Lobel?)

What recommendations do you have for CPP?

Do the holidays stress you out?

I have a confession to make.  They totally don’t stress me out.  I find them to be totally relaxing.  Holidays are awesome.

And yes, I’m the one with kids.  And yes, we celebrate Christmas.

Now, the end of the semester is a bit stressful.  Finishing up classes, then the final exam, then grading.  Also the OMG everybody is about to disappear we must have these last 50 faculty meetings to discuss urgent business.  Oh, and the 20 referee reports that are due right in the beginning of December.  And the 30 letters of recommendation.  That part is kind of stressful.  When all of that is over and the students are gone, it’s hugely peaceful.  So our Christmas season doesn’t really start until classes end (sometime in the late teens or early 20s of December, depending on the year).  The kids don’t seem to mind an abbreviated season at home even if school and stores start at Thanksgiving.

Do we make Christmas cookies?  Sometimes.  If we feel like it.  Ditto Christmas breads.  I like buying a little live rosemary tree a week or so before Christmas and we decorate that.  Christmas shopping mostly happens online.  Stocking stuffers (the only thing “Santa” brings) get bought at Target when we pick up gift cards for the teachers.  We’ve taken the oldest to see the Nutcracker.

Having the kids home 24/7 can be a little stressful, whether it’s Christmas or not.  (At least until DC2 learns to read like DC1.)  We try to arrange family visits so they overlap at least a little with kids’ vacation so that they can burn some of their energy off on the relatives.  Spread it out, so to speak.  We definitely use daycare as much as it’s open, and DC1 goes to daycamp for one of the weeks that ze is off (same place ze goes in the summer).

This time of year articles start popping up about the Elf on the Shelf and all sorts of crafty etc. time-consuming holiday traditions that moms can do to make things magical.  And that’s great for the parents who get utility out of doing stuff like that.  We love that DC1’s best friend’s mom is doing another gingerbread house party this year.

But what about people who feel compelled to do all the Christmas stuff even though they hate it?  The folks who are totally stressed out because they have to remember to move the elf every night, or they would rather watch a movie than make cookies, or they have a racist uncle Mike that they hate seeing every year at Christmas dinner?

Think about your sources of holiday stress (if any).

What happens if you:

1.  Don’t do them?  Would the world end if you just didn’t visit your racist relatives and stayed at home with the family you chose and you love instead?  If you don’t do outdoor lights?  Will the children be scarred for life if the elf moves to another house and never returns?

2.  Pay someone else to do them instead?  I learned this year that I will never adopt a family and go shopping for them again– instead I’ll just give money for someone else to shop with.

3.  Get someone else in the family to do them?  Why is it always mom’s job to bring holiday cheer?  Maybe another family member can step in and take the kids to see the lights or bake cookies and clean up the kitchen etc.

4.  Change them so they’re less stressful?  Maybe instead of getting a big cut tree you can get something that’s more manageable.  Maybe you can change a tradition so it’s more chill.  Instead of 12 different batches of cookies, maybe one or two.  Maybe it’s time for Santa to drop off the packages early and to leave them with some assembly required after they’re unwrapped.

5.  Reframe them so they’re not as stressful?  Sometimes you can just will yourself to enjoy a long drive (in the snow) to see the grandparents.  It’s an adventure instead of a chore.  Sometimes that’s not possible, but if you can’t get out of doing something, might as well make the best of it.

Do you have holiday stress?  What tips do you have for avoiding holiday stress?  What have you tried that’s worked for you?

Read these! Read these!

What have we been reading lately (that we loved)? Click the titles to see the descriptions on amazon.

The Incrementalists, by Steven Brust and Skyler White.  It reminds me of Kage Baker’s Company series, and of Charles Stross, and both of those are good things.  Not that wonderful on representations of women, but worth it nonetheless.

The Unquiet Bones: The First Chronicle of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon. Looked interesting from the description, and I already like the Father Cadfael series.  I’m glad I started this series, and I’m several books in by now.

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist.  It’s sweet and somewhat peaceful until it gets darker and darker… Would make for a great discussion of utopia/dystopia.  If you’d like to see a female protagonist over the age of 40, pick this one up!  Passes the Bechdel test.

Married with Zombies by Jesse Petersen.  A bickering couple arrives for their couples counseling… to find their therapist gnawing on the previous client.  The initial premise got me, and it turned out to be delightful and surprisingly moving. I will probably read the sequel.

Trial of Flowers by Jay Lake, a cool guy. Strange, wondrous, interesting.

The Lab Rat Chronicles: A Neuroscientist Reveals Life Lessons from the Planet’s Most Successful Mammals by Kelly Lambert — Makes a great gift for whoever likes nonfiction.  Fascinating! After the first few chapters I didn’t expect too much, but I actually learned a lot of cool things.

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg is amazeballs.  I read it in one sitting, staying up way too late. Read this! It packs an emotional punch but is also funny (especially the parents) and sweet.

#2 has been slowly rereading Georgette Heyers that we’ve already talked about here the first and second time she read through them!  Poor #2.  Maybe she’ll get some brain power back over Christmas break.

What have you been reading lately?

Let us help you get rid of that extra dough

Give us yer monneeeyyyyyyyyyyyy…. time for the sometimes-yearly post about charitable giving.

Previous posts here and here, and still apply.  Go read them.  We’ll wait…

Ok, let’s get serious, folks.  Some charities need money and here’s some suggestions.

First off it’s perennial favorite, Child’s Play.  I already gave a bunch of crayons, bubbles, and CDs of children’s songs in Spanish to the children’s hospital near my cousins.  In addition to giving toys to kids in hospitals, this year they’re expanding to domestic violence shelters.

What’s not to love?

Next up, Planned Parenthood.  Please give them money.  Really.  Please.  They do cancer screenings and reproductive health for men and women, as well as pre-natal care and access to family planning.

Related, the ACLU performs an important role in society.  They protect everybody’s basic rights from the people who would take them away.

New suggestions this year:  Smaller charities where your dollars make an impact:

Do-Good Lab: A variety of sustainability/environment/improved quality-of-living projects in developing areas around the world.

Speak Your Silence: Overcoming the stigma of child sexual abuse through conversation.

As always, your local animal shelters and libraries need donations of time, money, and goods.  You may have also noticed that food pantries are going crazy this year with their drives– SNAP was cut so they really do need those donations.  This point, and lots of other good ones, are made in Scalzi’s holiday charity guide, so if you don’t like our suggestions, go read theirs.

(ETA:  more Scalzi charity work here [counteract a bigot], and here [help for ill writers].)

Pick one of ours, or one of yours.  Do something nice, willya?

Sunday always comes too late for link love

Cats in sweaters and Christmas carols.

Please make these and send them to us ASAP.

The mansplainer tumblr.

this Scalzi listing totally ate my time and my wishlist

Moria in excelsis talks writing sustenance.


Oil and Garlic’s new blog.

Hyperbole and a half on Fresh Air.

go home, Arkansas, you’re drunk

I would shoot myself if I had this assignment.

Excelsiorbev newfies loose chewed moose.

The meta picture is more entertaining than it should be.

Guess Sarah Palin also never read the Gospels.

Another kitten cam.  Also shirtless men with kittens.

Girl historian with letters to the editor in seventeen magazine, 1961.

A windy city gal eats her way through Scotland.

A gai shan life with random thoughts on poverty and the poor.