Google + grumpy = good

Q:  is there a penalty for paying off a mohela student loan earl

A:  Check with Mohela.  (#2 didn’t get a penalty, but YMMV.)

Q:  what happens if i pay my student loan off early

A:  You don’t have to make monthly student loan payments anymore and you can direct that money towards other things.  (We suggest other debt payment or retirement savings.  But YMMV.)

Q:  how does the government play a role in the used car market

A:  We’re thinking you got this question mixed up a little bit.  Your prof is probably trying to teach you about adverse selection.  However, if this is the correct question, we suggest looking at the state level of government for your answer, as different states have different regulations.

Q:  why would someone eat store bought baked goods over homemade

A:  Because they’re my sister’s friends and they have no taste-buds?  (Also I knew a germophobe who would only eat things prepared in industrial kitchens.  Also it’s possible the person making the homemade goods is a terrible cook.)

Q:  what happens if you attend an award ceremony not dressed up

A:  The world ends.  The fires of Hell rain down upon the nation.  And it is all your fault.

Q:  when your cooking are you really cooking

A:  Yes, because we’re just that awesome.

Q:  is it mean not wanting 2nd child

A:  absolutely not

Q:  how many holidays do university professors get in the us

A:  Depends on the school.  Some only do MLK, Thanksgiving and Spring Break.  Others have a holiday each month so the kids don’t commit suicide.

Q:  why dont financial advisors recommend tiaa-cref

A:  The only ones who don’t want you to pay higher fees using their own services so they get a kick-back.  Or you have access to Vanguard which has lower fees.

Q:  how call a guy? babe pr honey or sweetie?

A:  Any of the above or none of the above.  You have to work it out with him.  Note, none of the above is the correct answer if the gentleman is not romantically involved with you and is not your child.  Particularly if he is a coworker.

How do you deal with student complaints about colleagues?

Not like harassment complaints or anything (which I haven’t gotten but would personally take seriously and bump up an administrative level), just teaching kinds of complaints (which meansomething considers a litmus test).

Often my students complain about their other professors to me.  These kind of complaints tend to come in two flavors:  Ones where it’s obvious that the student doesn’t realize that the teacher is doing something for hir own good, and ones where I kind of agree with the student.

For the former, it’s easy, you just explain what the professor is getting at.  R^2 is important when you’re trying to predict Y, but it isn’t important when you’re trying to figure out what the effect of X on Y is.  Group work is unpleasant, but learning to deal with groups of people is important in many professions.  Presentation skills are important and student presentations don’t mean the professor isn’t teaching the material.  That sort of thing.  Sometimes I’ll mention to my colleague of students aren’t getting something that they need to know and then the colleague gets bonus points from the students for going over it again in class.

The latter, when I kind of agree, is a little more difficult.  I will sometimes sympathize and say something like, “I probably wouldn’t do well in that class either, but X is very good for other learning styles,” or “X does that so that you learn to learn on your own,” or even “Because X is an under-represented minority and a woman, she gets a lot more criticism for her teaching and has to keep tighter control of her class– Dr. Fullwhitemale can get away with things that she can’t, and he can get away with more than I can and I can get away with more than she can.  People automatically give him respect, and I don’t have to work as hard for respect as she does.”  Generally I try not to ever trash one of my colleagues even if I disagree with their styles.

Of course, my colleagues do take their jobs seriously.  There are valid reasons for allowing or not allowing students to do homework in groups.  There are valid reasons for different types of lecture/classwork modalities.  I don’t hear about my colleagues failing to show up for class or never getting back homework (except in rare cases in which I can say that my colleague has been having a family emergency, which is totally understandable).  I think in those cases I would probably just frown and not say anything.  Because if one can’t say anything nice, one doesn’t say anything at all.

all about my tiny purple fist

When I am frustrated with something, I often shake my tiny fist at it, in defiance and rage.  I think this started in grad school, and I’m pretty sure “I shake my tiny fist at you!” got pulled out over statistics problem sets.  (Graduate-level statistics: bleah.)  My awesome friend L thought that my phrase was funny, and one day, she got me my very own tiny fist to shake at the world.  Behold its glory, below.

Purple power!  Ready to shake:


It also happens to be purple, which is a fantastic color.  As you can see, I keep it handy [see what I did there?] on my desk, perched on the end of a pencil, for when I might need it.

#2 asks:  Do you shake it at the patriarchy?

YES.  YES I DO.  The patriarchy is only one of many things at which I shake this awesome fist.

Grumpeteers, what (or whom) do you shake your tiny fist at?

Food deserts and produce portfolios

We had a guest speaker who talked about food deserts.  Food deserts are areas of cities where people live, but there aren’t any grocery stores with easy access.  At best, people’s food needs are met at the local 7-11, but these convenience stores charge more than grocery stores would and don’t carry fresh produce.  People who live in these areas eat a lot of junk food and canned food because that’s what’s available, and they tend to get way too much sodium because even “healthy” canned food tends to be higher in sodium than its fresh or frozen counterparts.

The guest speaker claimed that food deserts don’t really exist, or at least that the problem is much smaller in magnitude than it has been made out to be in the media.  He didn’t show a map or anything, and I haven’t looked up the original research so I can’t verify that claim.

He then said that when low SES and middle SES people shop at the same grocery store, they buy different food portfolios.  Middle SES people tend to buy a lot more variety of food, and they’re more likely to buy the seasonal produce–the fruits and veggies that are cheap because they’re in season.  Lower SES people at the same grocery store tend to buy the same bundles of food every month with far less variety.

He attributed this difference to lack of knowledge about how to cook different foods, but we could easily assume that there are differences in ability to carry the food home or to process and store the food so that it doesn’t go bad (and the downside to food going bad is worse when you have less money).  It could also be a difference in time– working 2 or 3 minimum wage part-time jobs doesn’t leave much time to be creative about cooking or shopping, especially if you have to take several buses to get to the grocery store.

The bottom-line though, is that if we want to help people to eat more healthily and more inexpensively, we can’t just provide access to fresh produce.  We probably can’t also, as he suggests (and WIC is doing), just provide cooking classes.  There are many reasons that lower SES people in cities turn towards convenience foods rather than a variety of seasonal produce.

Most of the stuff left on my cheap eats list is pretty bready, and we can’t have that much bread and still feed the baby so no biscuits and gravy, bruschetta, or pancakes this week.  Also we’ve been too sick and exhausted to make casseroles, so no tamale pie, even though that’s a great cheap eat.  In reality we’d probably have chili and spaghetti once a week rather than once (or twice, if you count meat and veggie chili together) a month if we were trying to keep costs low.

Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup: We make the soup from scratch because the canned stuff is too sweet.  But with a can, this is a $4 meal, give or take.

lentils:  depends on what you put in it, the lentils themselves are <$1.  You could add a couple slices of bacon from your bacon stash, but we’re probably gonna go veggie with spices.  So some onion and garlic and mustard seeds… probably a $3 or $4 meal.

stir fry veggies over rice:  This’ll be different than the last stirfry, but the cost will be about the same.

taco salad:  This can get pricey– but the lettuce will be $2, the beans $1, then probably a jar of salsa for $2.  Meat will add another $2-$6.

quiche:  Same as an omelete, but add another $1 or 2 for the crust.

noodles with olive oil and garlic and cheese (don’t worry, OMDG, we’ll probably have a side salad with it):  YMMV.

leftovers!:  Free!

And that should be it.  Next week I’m totally going back to the Thai cookbook for stuff.  (If you have the exotic stuff on hand because you eat a lot of it, the Thai food isn’t so bad, but if you don’t, it gets pricey.)

link love – kyriarchy edition

Newsweek tells us how America hates its gifted kids.

Presented without comment:  Low IQ and conservative beliefs linked to prejudice.

An amazing story of a wonderful and kind medical professional.

Fascinating comments on the women we don’t see (authors).  Related: Wanksplaining.

In between’s TA’s teaching evals.

An article in Mother Jones points out 21 things you can’t do while black [and hope to live].

This is bad:  Kansas: Making South Carolina look cultured since 1861.   (I’m not angry because I’m a feminist.  I’m a feminist because I’m angry!)

Update:  Kansas comes to its senses.  next up: racist, homophobic Idaho!

On the killing of Jordan Davis by Michael Dunn.

This is my job:


And finally: holy crap, tumblr keeps on giving:  Why is there a meerkat on that capybara?  The world may never know.

Ask the grumpies: longest owned item

Debbie M. asks

What one thing have you owned the longest? How have you maintained it?

Hm, I have some of my mom’s books (children’s classics) back from when she was a child.  They maintain pretty well in bookcases or boxed up.  I also have a couple of child-sized wooden rocking chairs.  DH refinished one of them when DC1 accidentally left some water on the seat of one of them.  Embarrassingly I have some white socks from middle school PE.  I know they’re from middle school because they have my name across the toes.  I maintain them by never exercising.

#2 says:

Something I have owned the longest would probably be things I have had since I was a baby, like a blanket and a teddy bear.  These things aren’t “maintained” as such, and they are well-loved.  Somewhere is a picture that my mom’s friend made for me upon the occasion of my birth.  I also have things that belonged to ancestors (such as my great-grandmother’s costume jewelry from 1900s), but I didn’t get these things until I was older.

What about rest of you grumpeteers? 

What are we reading: special edition

I read this book, and it is so great: Blind to Betrayal: Why We Fool Ourselves We Aren’t Being Fooled, by Jennifer Freyd and Pamela Birrell.  Authors’ page for the book here, where you can read the preface and a sample chapter.

One thing I love about this book is the authors’ voices.  The two authors are long-time collaborators, and their friendship comes through in the writing.  The cover is kind of dumb, but ignore that — this isn’t a romance book or even necessarily about romantic relationships (though they are in there).

The idea behind this book is to look at how we fool ourselves, in all sorts of relationships, into being unaware of the bad things we “should” know are going on.  This includes spouses not knowing their partners are cheating on them, but it also includes employees not being aware of how badly their companies are screwing over the employees legally and financially (see: Enron).  Through easy-to-read, nonacademic summaries of science and also through numerous personal stories, the authors lay out many situations in which it is adaptive and necessary for people to be unaware of being cheated: to be blind to betrayal.  The tone has a lot of sympathy for people who find themselves struggling to explain this situation in themselves, and even includes some of the authors’ own experiences.  This book sheds a light on what we can do as individuals who are dependent on institutions (marriages, governments, workplaces) that may not act in our best interests.  I appreciate the hopeful ending.

You should really read this book, and tell your friends.  It’s very readable and would even make a good gift.  It’s available on kindle and audible too.  Check it out of the library, buy it, ILL it.

Try reading the samples and tell us what you think in the comments?


  • Sometimes the homemade valentines cards from preschool parents are because at 8pm the night before the parents realized they’d forgotten to buy the damn cards (and the oldest kid already used up last year’s leftover cards which is why you’re out except 3 teacher-size cards and two ripped cards) and why does a toddler need valentine cards anyway?  Update:  Only half the kids sent in cards anyway.
  • This just in:  Fundamentalist churches are tools of the patriarchy bent on separating people from their money, oppressing women, and growing their empires.  Yeah, I know, a big shock to our readers.  But it had to be said.
  • Everything does NOT happen “for a reason”.  People who can think that can’t ever have been the victims of systematic oppression.  Sometimes life just sucks (often because people suck).  Because if everything happens for a reason then that implies that some folks’ real suffering is just background there to help out a more privileged protagonist, and that’s never a good reason.
  • dear senior white male professors, I am not your secretary.  Look it up yourself.
  •  raising a girl is not easier than raising a boy when they are three and raising a boy is not easier than raising a girl when they are teens.  Take your sexist stereotypes based on your n=1 (or more realistically, n=0) and burn them.

Arepas: A gluten-free win

Many years ago we lived in a big city in walking distance to a wonderful little arepa place.  We’d never had arepas before and we instantly became addicted.

Arepas a kind of cornbread, round like a small corn pita-bread, crusty on the outside with soft melty cornmeal on the inside.  They hail from several Latin American countries, and the ones we craved are from Venezuela, where they split them in two to make sandwiches.  There’s a particularly addicting arepa sandwich called reina pepiada, which is essentially chicken salad with avocado.  Or a slice of fresh cheese.  Or just butter.  Oh oh oh.

Fast forward many years, and we’ve been unable to find arepas, or rather, we’ve been able to find plenty of Colombian arepas, but none of the Venezuelan kind.  After deciding it probably wasn’t worth trying to get to the 3 yelp-dot diner two hours away in the middle of nowhere, we figured maybe this was something we could make on our own.

So eventually DH got himself a Latin American cookbook.  It’s a bit intimidating… sort of the Joy of Cooking Latin-American style.  An encyclopedia for a continent and a half’s worth of cooking.

Then my mom bought the arepa maker off my amazon wishlist.  And we were in business.

Oh joy.

We haven’t quite mastered the amazing rosemary chicken salad of the big city, but we’ve got the avocado down.  And the arepas are heavenly.  Just as we remembered them.

You don’t actually need an arepa maker to make arepas, you can make them on the stovetop like pupusas or really thick tortillas.  But to get them just like the ones at the restaurant, the arepa maker was necessary.

Here’s an internet recipe.  The internet makes a big deal about using PAN harina, but we’ve been using instant masa instead to no ill effect.

This week in challenge eating :

Quesadillas (we actually had these last week, but pretend we actually did fried rice last week and not this week).


Leek and potato soup– Leeks are out of season, but we got some anyway.  $3 for organic leeks.  <$3 for potatoes.  And some butter.  So $6 for a big pot.

stirfry with the leftover cabbage and other assorted veggies

vegetarian chili– Same as meat chili, but without the meat.

spaghetti with meat sauce

scrambled eggs

In memorium

We got two amazing cats when we finally moved into an apartment that allowed them.  Little Kitty and Big Kitty.  We’d initially gone to get Little Kitty and decided she needed a companion.  Big Kitty was in her room at the shelter.  A big soft short-hair calico, mostly white with small black and ginger patches.  When we came in the room, she was sociable, gave us some love and pettings and then after a while went back to her little house area.  After checking out the other cats, we decided she was just right… loving and sociable but not too clingy.

Her sheet said she’d come from a house with too many cats and that she loved dogs and children.

The women at the animal shelter said she had a heart condition and they didn’t expect her to be adopted.  They hadn’t even listed her.  We’ll take her anyway, we said.

We gave her heart medication each day.  DH picked up her prescription refill today.

She was a beautifully behaved cat.  She didn’t go on counters (except when she thought we weren’t looking and then would jump down if seen), and never understood why we let Little Kitty jump on them.  She mainly just tolerated Little Kitty, but she also taught semi-feral Little Kitty how to do important cat things, like how to meow.

Big Kitty always wanted to be alpha cat, even though Little Kitty doesn’t understand social hierarchies.  Sometimes Little Kitty would accidentally become alpha, which was always funny because Little Kitty was about half the size of Big Kitty and really had no idea what was going on with the dominance games.

Big Kitty liked hard catfood a lot, and deferred to Little Kitty over who got first dibs on the soft food because that’s the one thing Little Kitty would defend, and it’s easier to keep your alpha status if you don’t have to fight for it.

Big Kitty’s short hair turned out to have a longer undercoat in the winter.  She was the softest kitty imaginable.  We had to make sure she had special catfood because she’d throw up most kinds of high quality food, but Little Kitty needed something high quality to keep her fur from getting dry.  We won’t have to buy Purina One Sensitive Systems anymore.  We also had to ration her food because otherwise she’d throw it up (and she’d get overweight).  After many experiments with water pistols and so on to try to keep her from waking us up wailing for food, we set up a catfood timer.  We’ll have to reset that for one cat, or just get rid of it since Little Kitty never overate anyway.  Or maybe Garage Cat will start sharing with Little Kitty now that Big Kitty is no longer keeping him in the guest bedroom.  I suppose we could move his stuff now.  These words seem so cold but my heart is breaking so hard every time I think about how things are going to change.

DH was her favorite.  Occasionally she’d try to take my side of the bed so she could be with him.  But she’d give it up grudgingly.

She was super cuddly with me when I got pregnant both times.  After DC1 was born and before we started cosleeping, we’d close the door because Big Kitty loved the Pack N Play and you don’t want to accidentally smother a baby.  Big Kitty would wail outside the door to be let in.  It was so much easier to sleep when we gave that up.

As advertised, she was great with children.  Wonderful with both babies.  She started swiping a bit at tail pulls and so on when DC1 got old enough to know better, but with DC2 she didn’t even mind those, especially since we’d give her hairball treats after each new indignity.

She was great at finding missing kittens when we misplaced them.  She’d guard and hiss, but was never actually mean to the four stray cats.  She used every one of the extra litter boxes.

She had her favorite spots in the house.  DC1’s bed, both on top and under.  The corner of my closet.  The armrest on the overstuffed chair.  She won’t be there anymore, even if traces of her soft white fur still remain.

At 4 something pm when DH was home, she started panting and meowing and her back legs didn’t work.  While I got the kids, DH called the vet and then another bigger vet and got her in the carrying case and took her to the hospital.  She’d had a stroke and was in a lot of pain.  A heparin shot would loosen that and she might survive, but given her heart condition, it was unlikely she would make it after her blood started flowing again and even if she did, she’d continue to have strokes.  DH had to make a decision and he couldn’t contact me because my phone was dead, so he called his mom.  Big Kitty was in pain and didn’t know what was going on and he petted her and said goodbye.  When I finally got home and called him I couldn’t understand what he was saying because he was crying so hard.

The vet has said many times that Big Kitty has lasted longer than any other cat she’s seen with this heart condition.  She wasn’t an old kitty, but she was middle aged.  Still spry, but not quite as much as she used to be.  Without the heart condition, she probably would have had many more years, but with the heart condition, we’re lucky we’ve had her this long.  They asked DH to donate her body to the state vet school because of it and DH decided to do that.  They’ll send us a cast of her paw in return.

It’s so hard to believe she won’t be around anymore.  She’s gone suddenly with only an hour or so of pain; she didn’t waste away.   If we didn’t have to change anything I could just pretend that she’s in a different hiding spot than where I’m looking.  I wouldn’t have to know that she’s gone.  She’s lived a good life and was a wonderful kitty.  We will miss her so much.

Good-bye, Big Kitty.  We will always love you.

Big Kitty's last photo

Big Kitty’s last photo