link love

Vaccine delayers— also not really into science.  Favorite vax quote of the week:  “FACT: The anti-vaxxer movement was concocted by Big Pharma to induce people to shun unprofitable vaccinations so that they would catch the vaccinated diseases, and wind up in the hospital where they consume more profitable drugs to ease and cure the disease.  This explains everything, sheeple!”  Let’s see if this is true or just wishful thinking.  59% of the people with measles in California in this outbreak are adults.  Being an anti-braker.

Risks leading to death in perspective.

in THIS week’s f- the police  Police brutality and racism is unconscionable.

How a female founder is treated differently than her male cofounder.

Women, work, and the name change.

Women doing office housework.

An oldie but a goodie.

Here’s the answer to the question on my mind.  So maybe not racism in this case.  Though Kanye was totally right about the all the single ladies video.  The grammies are just messed up.

definition of a post-doc

the plaintiffs behind the latest challenge to obama care

A withholding calculator.



How many licks to get to the center of a lollypop.

It is possible to have a favorite page from a freezer manual.

The number of f’s you need not give.

This is hilarious.

Why cats love boxes.

poor kitteh

the complex thrill of uncut pages

Ask the grumpies: Advice for moving institutions

Mimi asks

I am an Assistant Professor at a directional state school, where I have taught for 4.5 years. I am moving after this semester to a much better, highly ranked private institution (in a much better location! with a job for my husband!) and I am beyond excited about it.

At my current institution, I did way too much service (sitting on university wide committees, directing a program) partially because I didn’t say no, partially because the institution is full of men who think that female professors should be on all committees relating to teaching and do all service, partially because I was thrown under the bus by my chair and dean. Needless to say, I am delighted to be moving. And that I am better at saying no now than I was 5 years ago.

My big question is this: what advice would you give someone who was moving about adapting to the new place? Are there things that faculty who have come to your departments / former departments did that drove you nuts? That you saw as particularly savvy or smart? I am bringing lots of credit on the tenure clock to the new place, so I have one year there before I go through the tenure process, if that matters. 

Oh gee, once again we’re pretty useless on this one.  Congratulations on the new job and fixing all sorts of problems!

Most likely you’ll be able to dodge excess service this year because you’re new and you’re doing that last-minute tenure push.  As a tenured person if you’re in a good place, you’ll take on more service than pre-tenure people do because you’ll be protecting pre-tenure people.  Unless, of course, they’re hiring you because they don’t have enough people to do service(!), in which case your load might be a bit higher than expected.  Do ask around what the normal load is for pre-tenure folk, and not just for women.

I don’t think there’s been anything off-the-wall with people we’ve had move from other institutions in either positive or negative directions.  One of my colleagues delayed going up for tenure for too long (negotiated a really long clock upon coming) which meant ze sailed through tenure, but hir letters read things like, “I thought this request would be for promotion to full,” but that doesn’t sound like your situation since you’ve only negotiated a one year clock.  (Granted, ze was able to take advantage of pre-tenure perks like leave and a post-doc.)

People hired without tenure have tended to be a bit more tentative as a group than people hired with.  They’re quieter at meetings, and don’t tend to provide opinions unless directly asked.  People hired with tenure have come in and changed things up (for the better!) or come in just as quietly as the pre-tenure.  It depends on their personality.  Who is to say what is right, though?  We’ve had first year hires every bit as opinionated and active as people hired with tenure.  As long as the goals are good and the environment is supportive and non-toxic, it’s ok to speak up.  If everyone has the same goals of moving the department forward, supporting the students, and doing good work, then disagreements become discussions rather than problems.  Still, if you’re pushing for tenure right away, there are benefits to keeping your head down.

We do think that the really important thing is to remember that academia is just a job and that there are a lot of other jobs out there.  As such, you don’t really need to try to game the system.  Do what you need to do to be a good researcher (and good teacher and good citizen) and, more importantly, to enjoy that research and teaching and service.  Focus on what gives you meaning.  Maybe stepping lightly that first year as you get your bearing, but if anything is too horrible, remember, you can always leave again.

So… not really that great advice above, but we’re hoping our readers can give better advice!  Maybe we’ll jump over and ask Historiann if she can signal boost for us so you can truly get some good advice from a variety of people in academia.

Do something every day that scares you, and riding horses

Riding horses is good for my anxiety.  It lets me expose myself to things a little bit scary in a relatively safe way.  Also, you really MUST be calm around horses, so you have to regulate your physiology.

I’m not afraid of falling off (very much) because I have fallen off and it was ok.  (N.B.:  always wear a helmet!  always!)  Falling off sucks intensely for a relatively small number of seconds, but within a few minutes I’m back on again.  I have been lucky not to be injured, and also I fall off less these days.  Mostly when you fall off you’re not seriously hurt.  When the consequences would be worse (such as you would fall on rocks or off a cliff or something), then ride more conservatively.  My mom’s worried I’ll end up like Christopher Reeve but I can’t think about that; also I take reasonable safety precautions.

But I also feel free to try new things because falling off isn’t that bad, even the nastiest fall I had that scared me and the teacher.  My teachers can coach me through a hairy situation and they calibrate challenges to my skill level.  They wouldn’t ask me to do something that they honestly thought I couldn’t do.  Yet also I know that I can always say no and refuse to try the thing they asked.  So therefore I always say yes and try it!  It helps that I don’t care if I look really dumb.  There’s not much room for worry on a horse: you just have to ignore your anxiety and breathe through it, so as not to rile up the prey beastie or just make yourself tight and everything harder.

Of course, there’s also the part that riding is extremely fun, and I enjoy learning new skills and getting more competent, which will never happen if you don’t stretch yourself.

#2 adds:  The helmet is so important to this metaphor.  Calculated risks, measured risks, these help us grow without killing us!

Do you do things that scare you?  What is your helmet?

7 min is a long time

In which #1 chronicles week 1 of her 7 min challenge.  For, you know, posterity.

Day 1:  Jumping jacks are easy but tiring.  Wall sit, this seems easy oh but now my upper legs are burning.  Why are my leg muscles burning?  Woo, 3 push-ups, go me, I guess.  Cannot do another.  I cannot do a single abdominal crunch or sit-up.  Step up onto chair, another one I don’t understand.  Squats are easy… it’s like how I picked stuff up when I was pregnant.  Triceps dip onto chair, I have never done this and it kind of burns.  Plank… doesn’t happen.  First my toe slips on tax papers on the floor and then I am completely unable to do even one push-up.  I ran out of push-ups in step 3.  High knees running in place– no problem.  Lunge– why is this even an exercise?  The last two things don’t happen– no more push-ups left so no push up and roll and no side plank.  During this time, the kids keep coming in demanding attention, despite having declined to try the exercises with me.

Day 2:  It becomes clear why people online said the wall sit was a challenge.  My day starts with sore leg muscles that remind me they exist every time I walk.  My colleagues ask me if everything is ok and laugh when I tell them.  Two of my colleagues used to force their younger siblings to do the wall sit, they tell me.  Another one says, “oh, I tried the 7 min workout once,” and grimaces.  After dinner I force my tired self to do another set.  This time I get 3.5 push-ups and manage to at least start the plank.  Not the side plank (wait, my rear end is supposed to be off the ground?).  My 8 year old successfully completes the entire circuit and then runs off.

Day 3:  Still sore, but maybe not as much.  Or maybe I’m just used to it.  Back to only 3 push-ups, and forget any crunches.  And I’m pretty sure the side plank isn’t going to happen this month, but you never know.

Day 4:  Amazingly, no longer sore.  Still, took the day off from the work out because of teaching for 6 hours.

Day 5:  My sister asked how it was going.  I told her some exercises were more doable than others.  Not at all sore today.  I did four push-ups in the first set and one in the last (and was able to plank for a bit).  I feel great today and at first attribute it to my exercise regimen, but then realize that my nose is no longer dripping, my head is no longer muffled, and I’m no longer getting vertigo when I dip my head down.  Not being sick is AWESOME.

Day 6:  FIVE pushups in a row.  And 2 in the last set.  And I’ve discovered 7 min goes a lot faster if you’re watching the daily show during it on the other computer monitor.

Day 7:  Another 5 pushups in the first set and 3 in the last set.

When to replace a car?

Just got a $1000 repair estimate for my $3000 blue-book value car.  ($500 in absolutely necessary to turn the check engine light off repairs, $500 to replace a couple of axles that cause vibration.)  The car is 10 years old with 36,000 miles on it.  (It’s also all shiny and clean because DH had it detailed for me as a Christmas present.)  To get a newer model of our current car would be about $15,000.

Since we’re only taking one car with us to paradise next year (this is one of those sacrifices people make in paradise if they want to continue saving for their kids’ college, but there’s public transportation so it’s not so bad), if we do decide to get rid of the car, this summer would be a good time to do that so we don’t have to find a place to store it.

In the past, my rule had been to replace a car when the cost of repairs was greater than the value of the car, but that was easy when we had a single major repair cost.  When they start coming in in drips and drabs like this it’s harder to make that comparison.  At the same time, the drips and drabs are annoying when each one means we’re down to one car for a week (I end up having to do all pick-ups and drop-offs and don’t have as much work flexibility, unless DH plays chauffer which means extra driving).  Time is money!

It’s still a good little fuel efficient car.  And it looks all shiny and new on the inside right now.  I’m a bit attached to it.

So we’re paying the $1000 now, and we’ll rethink this after the next repair bill or it’s time to go to paradise, whichever comes first.

How do you decide when it’s time to replace a car?

link love: deuce-seven off-suit

Anti-vaxxers give us incandescent levels of rage (and sadness).  There are a lot of vaccine links this week.

First up, a quick set of links to counter anti-vaccine claims.  And a really interesting article talking about why the timing of vaccinations is what it is (and shouldn’t be delayed).  [Disclaimer, I did wait on the Hep B vaccine at birth with DC2– but that was weighing the weird allergies I’d had during pregnancy against the fact that I’d only had one sexual partner and no blood transfusions … the hospital pedi kind of went, oh, you’re upper middle class, you’re probably low risk and there’s a chance your infant is allergic to stuff so you can wait until you see your real pedi. He didn’t really say the upper-middle class part, but I’m pretty sure he was thinking it as he mumbled something about me being low risk after asking about blood transfusions.]

People who legitimately can’t get vaccinated want others to get vaccinated. A plea from Roald Dahl after the death of his daughter from measles.

So why do anti-vaxxers proselytize? Why don’t they vaccinate?

These reasons from the 1940s still hold true.  And here’s how we would cover the story if it weren’t the US.

I used to be on mommy forums, including one that had a lot of people from LA and the OC. It seems to me that there’s two types of moms (on the forums) who refuse to vaccinate their kids (and of course, the dads are also responsible, but they weren’t on the forums!) The first type of anti-vaxxer is beyond help. These women get a feeling of power or privilege being the repositories of fake knowledge preaching at all the unbelievers. Not vaccinating is what makes them important. Only mandatory vaccinations will budge them, and even then… they might choose to unschool so they can keep their mental images of themselves. The other group of women are the more casual non-vaxxers. They are easily pushed one direction or another by what’s convenient, what’s popular, what the strong personalities are saying, what story they’ve heard most recently (someone getting a bad reaction from the vaccine vs. someone getting whooping cough), how easy it is to find a pediatrician who will delay or not do vaccines at all.

An anecdote from my early fora experiences: Say you’ve got women who don’t vaccinate their children because they’ve heard there’s mercury in the MMR vaccine. What works is to tell them to be sure to ask their doctor for the “Thimerosal-free vaccine.” What doesn’t work is to tell them that MMR has never had thimerosal in it in the US. What especially doesn’t work is to say that vaccines with thimerosal have so little mercury it doesn’t matter. What does work is to say that NOW there’s a version that doesn’t have thimerosal in it that they can request specifically from their doctor. (Ditto formaldehyde and all the other “toxins” that were never and have never been in the MMR vaccine in the US.)

Another thing that works for this group of women en masse is when Oprah makes a big deal out of something. She’s got a lot of people’s trust. Unfortunately, a lot of women don’t vaccinate their kids… because of Oprah.

Thought provoking article on why some white men are scared of political correctness.  (But most of us know why already… this just uses more words to explain it.)

take precautions

These are beautiful

Confused professor needs advice on resignation.

A second Harper Lee novel.

J. K. Rowling answers one of those tricky tumblr harry potter questions.

How to motivate yourself to do something.

“Every so often, I’ll hear about a friend or acquaintance whose marriage has collapsed because of infidelity. And every time, I ask my wife the same question: Where on earth do these people find the time to have affairs, anyway?”

hic.  hic.  hic.

On being a woman engineer.

How one woman dealt with harassment at work.

A man is making terrifying videos about Brianna Wu. It takes congressmen getting involved for the police to even listen.

Short and long-term consequences of teachers’ gender stereotypes on students.

An interesting point about the impact of computerized testing on high stakes testing.

Man brings bagged lunch to cut down on joy in life.

It’s surprisingly hard to find a recording I like of this song:

This one has a weird instrumental solo in the middle, but it keeps the beat going better than other versions (I originally learned it with a train sound underneath for the beat).  And it’s a better arrangement chorally than the other major competitors (IMO).

This lovely video below has a subtle humor… stay with it…

Ask the grumpies: Party food

Debbie M. asks

What’s your favorite food to bring to parties? To see at parties?


We’ve already discussed potlucks specifically, so we’ll assume you’re not talking about pot-lucks, but about parties for which you are not expected to bring anything.

Wine is a good choice for these.  I am partial to bringing a bottle of Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc, as it is a light tasty wine that is unpretentious but also classy.  It’s not out of place anywhere, at least not anywhere that wine is served.  (I know this because several people whose opinion on wine we value far higher than our own have served this or purchased it at restaurants.)  Sometimes though, we’ll bring a six-pack of whatever DH’s favorite hard cider of the moment is.  #2 agrees and says she likes to bring wine or a beer that she likes so she knows there will be at least one beer she likes.

If we’re not sure that alcohol will be welcome, we usually whip up a dessert because you can never have too many of those.  Sometimes a pie, sometimes cookies, sometimes a quick bread or cupcakes.  Whatever we feel like will fit.

My favorite foods to see at parties:  little sausages in modified bbq sauce in a warmer (because we would never make these at home and I love them) and cucumber sandwiches (because I love them but never seem to be able to make them right… though I suspect the people who make them right are dying off :( ).  I also like cocktail shrimp.  And sometimes people make really good cake, but it’s hard to tell if cake is going to be good without trying it… I suppose that’s a reason to have children, so you can make them try the cake.

#2 can get behind some tasty dips– she likes things that are salty and flavorful.  Most people’s sweets are too sweet.

#1 kind of likes raw veggie trays with dips.  #2 agrees, citing cucumbers and carrots specifically.

On budget constraints, endogeneity, and interconnectedness: A deliberately controversial post

I was reading another mommy blog off a blog roll and came across an article talking about another article.  The original article made the argument, Fly-lady like, that if your life is a mess, then your bathroom floor is a mess, and to make your life less of a mess, you need to clean your bathroom floor because this is all interconnected.  Sort of a broken windows hypothesis for your life.

How do you know your life is a mess, asks the article?  The proof is whether or not the area behind your child’s car seat is sparkly clean.  Ignoring for the moment that that test says that all but the most OCD or wealthy enough to afford servants have lives that are messes, there are several logical and mechanical reasons that making a causal link from cleaning your house to cleaning your life doesn’t make sense.

Let’s start with the mechanical arguments.  As Laura Vanderkam is fond of noting, there are 168 hours in a week.  Every hour you spend cleaning behind the car seat is an hour you don’t spend organizing your paid work, your meals, your finances, your exercise routine, or anything else that people find worth organizing that makes them happier.  I’m guessing that area behind the car seat that is just going to get messy again ranks pretty low on most people’s priority list.  (Unless, of course an apple core got wedged there, then clean away!  But the example in the article didn’t include potential for rot or bad smells.)

Adding to the time-based mechanical arguments is research on willpower.  If cleaning is unpleasant, it takes willpower to do.  We have limited reserves of willpower that are replenished with sleep, rest, and food.  Willpower used on cleaning behind the car seat is willpower not used at work.  Or it is willpower to be replenished with sugar leading to unhealthiness.

Finally, even if there is a correlation between having a clean bathroom and feeling together with the rest of your life, that doesn’t mean that the clean bathroom *causes* you to have (or to feel like you have) the rest of your life together. There could be endogeneity.

Endogeneity comes in two flavors.

The first is reverse causality.  Here, feeling together would be the cause of the clean bathroom, not vice versa.  Maybe you have free time from being organized and good at delegating so you can clean the bathroom.  Maybe you’re so awesome at work and confident in yourself that you can easily hire a housecleaner.

The second source of endogeneity is omitted variables bias.  That means there is something else that causes both your bathroom to be clean and you feeling like you have your life together.  An omitted variable could be something like, being Martha Stewart.  Or having a really low sleep need and high reserves of will-power.  If you only need a few hours of sleep per night you have more time to do everything and to have a clean bathroom.  Or maybe having a partner who is supportive and enjoys cleaning– that could lead to both clean bathroom and the rest of life working.  (Just like having a partner who acts like an additional toddler rather than a caring and sharing adult can lead to messy bathrooms and unhappiness in other areas.)


Do you think that if you want to be perfect at one thing, you have to be perfect at everything?

Adventures in ending cosleeping: Part 2: The DC2ening

It is amazing how different our kids are sometimes.

We’ve ended cosleeping with DC2 a bit earlier than with DC1, mainly because DC2 is bigger so we’ve run out of room earlier.

Here’s what we did with DC2:  Several weeks before ending cosleeping (which we planned to try over winter break), we turned the nursery (adjoining our master bedroom) back into an office and turned the office (near DC1’s room) into DC2’s room, complete with bed (though right now we’re just using the mattress because we don’t have bedrails and DC2 tends to roll off).  We talked up about how this was DC2’s room and DC2 would get to sleep in it.  DC2 didn’t bite right away.  There was some giggly pretending to sleep in hir bed or in DC1’s bed, but never for long.

During this time, we also started enforcing a bedtime routine.  Snack, bath, teeth brushing, some play time, two books, lights out.  Walking or nursing to sleep if ze asked for it, but not encouraged.  A complete nix on hir attempts to stay up later by asking for 2nd or 3rd snack (which would be demanded, but uneaten, and followed by tearful 2nd and/or 3rd teeth brushing) after lights out.

Then we visited relatives over Christmas.  When we came back we decided it was time to try out the bed.

And DC2 was totally on board with it.  First night, after plugging the nightlight back in, we did the routine, put hir in hir bed, and ze fell asleep with DH beside hir.  Second night, ze snuggled right down while I read hir two books and wasn’t yet asleep when I turned out the lights and left, but then fell asleep.  No effort at all for this part, unlike the week of Super-Nanny technique we used with DC1.

HOWEVER, unlike DC1, DC2 doesn’t sleep the entire night.  Getting DC1 to bed in the first place was the hard part, but after that we were fine until morning.  DC2 has nightmares (DC1 had night terrors, but they were mostly over by age 2).  DC2 gets thirsty.  DC2 wakes up screaming regularly at 2am and at 5am.  When ze is cosleeping, this isn’t that big a deal because one of us will hand over the water bottle or explain that it’s all just a dream and mommy and daddy are here and 5 min later everyone is back asleep.  We can do the same thing without cosleeping, but it involves a long cold walk to the other side of the house.

The water thing is easily solvable– there’s no reason DC2 can’t get hir own water.  But we’re not so sure what to do about the nightmares.  Maybe the new daycare will decrease hir anxiety about people taking hir stuff…[Update:  ze has learned how to come back to our bed at 5am… this is infinitely preferable.  The 2am waking time has been jumping around… that part is not so good.]

Anyway, we still subscribe to the Grumpy Rumblings do whatever is easiest (so long as it isn’t actually harmful) philosophy of how to raise your kids.

I doubt this post will generate the 68 comments that our first post on ending co-sleeping did (Is baby sleeping still one of those topics that generates huge wars?), but feel free to chime in!  I can’t think of any good questions though…

Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: . 36 Comments »

Employee initiative or employee management?

DH had separate conversations with his brother and his cousin this break in which they both said the same thing.

Whenever each asked his boss how he was doing, the boss said, you’re doing fine.  When asked to elaborate, the boss would say, you do what we ask you to do.

However, at end of the year evaluation, each was told that just doing what was asked isn’t enough to excel.  It’s enough to do ok.  But to excel each needs to show initiative and to figure out what to do before being asked to do it.

DH’s brother maintains that that’s just not his way, and if his manager were a good manager he’d manage DH’s brother so that DH’s brother would excel without having to show initiative (though he didn’t use the words “initiative”– that’s me not knowing how else to describe it) — he’d be told what to do and he’d do it and he would excel.

DH’s cousin’s situation is a bit more dysfunctional in that he actually gets in trouble for showing initiative and is thus getting severely mixed signals.  DH’s cousin’s boss sounds a lot worse than DH’s brother’s boss.

This made me think about education levels and management and what makes a good employee.

DH and I kind of agree with the brother’s boss.  We have PhDs.  We’re trained to have initiative.  We couldn’t do our work without a lot of self-direction.  We both supervise people without PhDs for whom we do the vast majority of the direction.  And it’s great when we get an employee who shows some initiative because they’re closer to the work and often see things that we don’t and it decreases our mental load (though it’s good when they ask before going off on a wild goose chase).  The PhD, in essence, is valuable in the work world because we don’t think there’s anything wrong with being asked to do self-direction and we expect to do it and we know how to do it.  Hopefully that translates over for humanities PhDs and other areas where supply outstrips academic demand.  That ability to work independently is worth money to industry and government.

DH’s brother has an MS (masters of science).  DH’s cousin has an AS (that’s the practical version of a 2 year community college degree– associates of science).  DH’s brother’s boss is fine.  DH’s cousin’s boss is pretty bad.  Why should you get education?  To make it easier to avoid terrible bosses.  And maybe each extra degree really does make you more productive– there’s a lot to be said for independent thinking and independent work skills.  Sure, there’s something to be said for being able to be a cog, but right now there’s a lot of people able to be cogs and not as many able to direct the gears on their own.  So gear direction is worth something.

So what do you think– should employees show more initiative even if they don’t want to or should good bosses be better micromanagers?  (That’s a loaded framing– perhaps you have a way to load it the other direction?)  Is higher education worth something?  Does it really teach thinking and self-direction?