Getting it Together

So my partner and I are trying to be grownups now (sort of…) since we’re pushing 40 years old.  We decided to work on our health together.

We want to eat healthier.  For me, that means less pasta and more vegetables.  I’m not a vegetarian but my partner is.  We decided to try cooking healthier at home with the aid of Purple Carrot (because we have money).  We’ll let you know how it goes.  We both have doubts but we’re willing to try it.  Other meal prep/delivery services like Blue Apron seemed to have much worse options for vegetarians.

Here’s what we resolved.

He will pay for most of the food and be in charge of cooking it twice per week.  I will make sure we get the food box from the apartment complex’s leasing office (where it will be delivered if we’re not home) before the office closes on delivery day, and be in charge of cooking it once per week.  We will both help cook on all 3 days per week — currently scheduled for Wed, Fri, Sun.  The email comes to me so I can choose if we want to skip a week or pause.

The long weekend of July 4, we will clean the kitchen together so we can start cooking that week.

Also, we might exercise more.  He commits to working out before work 3 days per week, in our apartment building’s fitness room.  I can’t do early mornings probably, but I am considering (at his suggestion) starting with a 30-minute walk 3 times per week while listening to a podcast.

Also I need to look into getting our couch restuffed so it has more back support.

We’re old, Grumpeteers, but we’re working together.  Wish us luck!

Have you done any life-improvement projects with your partner?  how did they turn out?

Was I more confident 5 years ago?

Man, so I’ve been scraping the 2010 and 2011 drafts for posts (it is insane how many unfinished posts we have), and I’ve been noticing how much more I dunno, prescriptive a lot of these posts are.

Like… how to do cognitive restructuring.  On the importance of moxy.   That post (It takes a village) from the other week about getting out and being with adults was actually written in 2011.  I even have one that ironically talks about our students getting cognitive dissonance when we tell them they have to think in shades of grey.

It’s ironic, because I think as I age, some things get greyer.  Like, meta-grey.  I mean, sometimes things really are black and white and not shades of grey at all.  Sometimes people go farther in life if they ignore ambiguity, even if things are grey.  Who am I to say what is right or wrong.  There’s even a post in here somewhere (vintage 2012 or 2013) talking about how people like to be told what to do, they like to be lead.  And… I dunno, do they?

I do think part of it is I’ve spent the year surrounded by everyone being at least as smart and accomplished as I am and most people even more so.  All my coauthored projects finished in the fall.  I haven’t started anything new, no new collaborations etc.  I’m sort of a silo surrounded by amazing people that I don’t often ask for help.  And it has kind of eroded my confidence a bit.  I do like it better being a little fish in a big pond because for whatever reason, I feel a bit uncomfortable as a big fish in a small pond.  But man, have I got imposter syndrome.  Maybe if I were getting more done, making more progress on my projects I’d feel more confident, but right now I’ve got a bit of “will I ever amount to anything” thing going on.  Plus my big projects aren’t working and there’s too many of them and I’m having trouble finding direction.  And I’m going back to teaching and service and things that make it hard to be productive very soon.  If I can’t get things done while on leave, how will I get them done when I’m working full-time?

If I regain my confidence, will it be a false confidence, and will I realize it is so?  Does it matter when moxy is so important?

So, I dunno, a bit of melancholy to add to the lack of certainty.

Or…. maybe those drafts have been sitting there since 2011 for a reason and I’m just overthinking.

Also… I can see that several of these posts were reactions to obnoxious parenting or personal finance blogs that I no longer read and may no longer even exist.  It’s a bit easier to argue the opposite when someone is saying something ridiculous.

So… maybe this whole trying to compare posts from 5 years ago to now is just another lesson that no, it isn’t always about my internal omphaloskepsis; sometimes there’s an external factor.  Usually it’s something else.  Which is kind of comforting, really.

Has your certainty or confidence changed in the last five years?  Have you noticed any other changes?

Would you pay for your kid’s graduate school?

I always thought it was ridiculous that some parents would pay for their kids’ law school or med school tuition.  Those tuitions are high but the salaries after are also quite high (at least they were for lawyers before the recession) and having to live on less than a fortune in order to pay off loans helps people keep their fixed expenses low.  So you don’t end up having to make a 300K/year salary to pay your required monthly expenses.  If the cost-benefit ratio isn’t high enough (ex. There’s a glut of lawyers or the business school isn’t very good) then nobody should be paying for the degree.

College seems less of a problem because a high salary straight out isn’t guaranteed (and certainly not an MD or JD-level salary) and there’s so much besides student loans that a person has to save for when just starting out.

My thinking was probably also shaped by the fact that my parents took care of my (subsidized) student loans and neither DH nor I got parental help during graduate school.

I still believe that people shouldn’t get a PhD without being fully funded.

However, as our income has gone up, I’ve been feeling more ambivalent about the need for kids to pay for their own professional school.  If DH and I have saved a lot, why not pass it on in the form of tuition assistance rather than as an inheritance that our children will hopefully never need?  If that’s something they want to do.  (Both DCs, however, seem very much like they’ll become engineers, so this may be a moot thought.  We’ll see what the future brings.)

This type of thinking leads to a slippery slope.  When I read The Millionaire Next Door I thought that the the plight of the next generation of millionaires who spent down their parents’ wealth was pretty awful.  But is it really awful?  Wouldn’t we all like to be parts of aristocratic dynasties living beyond our incomes from the benefit of family wealth?  If the money runs out, doesn’t that just put the third generation back where it started, in which case, why worry about dynastic wealth at all?  Why does wealth need to grow with each successive generation?

I’m still against helping kids out with a downpayment– people shouldn’t be able to take on a mortgage they can’t afford.  And I’m firmly against taking money from my own parents (I try to encourage them to spend it themselves!)  But will I give my adult children monetary assistance?  I don’t know.  They probably won’t need it.  They may not want it.  But who knows, we may end up being ok with funding graduate school.  We’ll see what happens when the time comes.

Do you believe in funding children’s graduate education?  How about their house downpayments?  What kind of monetary assistance would you provide to your adult children?  What kind would you not?

Link Love: Ants

N. K. Jemisin is an amazing author.  If you like her work as much as I do, please feel free to support her Patreon.  You can get pictures of her cat.  We love us some Seanan McGuire around here too; here’s her Patreon.  She needs a toaster.

Our friend came over and we were talking about the current political situation.  His analogy was, “Do you want ants?  This is how you get ants!”

So here are some political links sectioned off in an ants-only section, because of #1’s Outrage Fatigue.

~~~~~~~~~here be ants~~~~~~~~~

If only this had happened sooner.  Orange baby-hands idiotIn case you missed anything about the shriveled yam in a toupee.

Since it seems like a lot of people didn’t get this (politics): http://www.salon.com/2016/06/23/everyone_calm_down_the_no_fly_no_buy_bill_was_designed_to_embarrass_republicans_not_to_pass_and_its_working/  Like, don’t you think that maybe, just maybe, not being able to get on a plane is a much much bigger deal than not being able to buy an AR-15?

fact checking a subset of  Trump’s most talked about lies: http://www.salon.com/2016/06/22/fact_checking_trumps_garbage_truck_of_lies_his_speech_accusing_clinton_of_corruption_is_riddled_with_fiction_and_conspiracies

In case you don’t spend enough time thinking about gender and double standards.  Being a female politician sucks.  Being a female doctor sucks.  More on abortion.

This is why everyone has to vote.  Texas needs these.

Summers

This cartoon, which sums up #1’s attitude, is from the wonderful Sarah’s Scribbles.

More politics.  More outrage.

Let’s hate republicans together.

~~~~~~end of ants~~~~~~~~

And here are some other things not to miss!

We need better medicinePatriarchy is depressing.  “I love getting stalked,” said #NoWomanEver.

Juneteenth.  False narratives– hey, more woman-shaming.  Maybe the ants weren’t over after all.

Productivity, and an excuse to buy new notebooks.

KITTEN!

 

 

Ask the grumpies: Healthy natural environmentally friendly food for lazy people

Bogart asks:

I have realized that I value (a) minimal environmental impact; (b) foods made from “natural” ingredients, with “natural” here being a stand-in for Michael Pollan’s sort of stuff-my-grandparents-would-have-been-familiar-with. Things people have been eating (or cooking with) for a long time; and (c) not having to do food prep. Ever. At all.

B and C seem somewhat at odds with each other, though I am increasingly coming to believe that C is very consistent with A — that if, for example, I buy a rotisserie chicken it likely took a lot less energy to cook that chicken than it would had a roasted a single chicken at home (never mind baking bread). So my main question is how other people who value B & C manage to balance them. Should you post this, I’d be grateful if people could act like economists and assume that, no, really, I am confident about my actual preferences vis-a-vis C, it’s not just that I haven’t tried hard enough/long enough/gotten in touch with my inner chef. Also, I have enough of a budget constraint that I’m unlikely to land in a place where, e.g., I solve C by hiring a personal chef thereby violating A. So food prep does need to be minimal or inexpensively outsourced to solve this conundrum.

I tongue-in-cheek recommended a raw food diet, because even though there are plenty of people who do crazy raw food stuff (lots of sprouting and fermenting and processing and chopping and mixing and dehydrating etc.), you can actually be really lazy and just eat lots of completely unprocessed fruits, veggies, and nuts.  Depending on where you live, you can do this locally and organically too.  All it takes is rinsing off and chewing.  (How do I know:  Three months with DC1 of being completely unable to keep anything down other than fruit, and a limited longer-term diet with DC2.)  But it does take a lot of chewing.  And I am much happier being able to eat more food groups.

When you live in a West Coast city, this is also really easy.  Just go to your farmer’s market every weekend and buy food there.  Done.  You can get enough pre-made local ethnic food and other goodies to last you the week.  Still, farmer’s markets in other places often have local canned items and jams and baked goods and you can return the mason jars to them to be reused.

Everywhere else you’re going to probably not going to be able to do very well on (a) because food will need to be shipped in for 3-9 months out of the year.  Still, as a museum exhibit here in Paradise says, you can do a lot to minimize your environmental impact just by not eating meat or by cutting down on meat.  (I say this while lovingly scooping up a salad made with local butter lettuce, local feta, and ground buffalo, nom.)  So yeah, eat organic fruits and veggies.

Some cities have a caterer in town whose business model is to provide home-cooked meals to families for the week.  Usually they drop a big package off with you at the beginning of the week with meals for the entire week.  Many of these places have organic/resuable containers/etc.  But some of them it looks like all they’ve done is chop things and you still have to put stuff together and actually cook.  Meh.  Still, something to look into– it’s not exactly a personal chef because they’re making the same meals for a ton of people, which is also more efficient.  We flirted with this idea when I was unable to eat wheat with DC2’s pregnancy because one of the options in town did organic/gluten-free but never tried it out.

Really, it sounds like you want to go to your most upscale local grocery store in town and just check out their freezer section and ready-made section.  If you’re committed to minimal waste, do things like bring your own containers and get stuff from the bins (like mixed salad greens).  Also, we are big fans of cheese and crackers and fruit for dinner.  Crackers may not be the best option from an environmental standpoint, so you could do sandwiches (with local bread) instead or quesadillas (with local tortillas).  Which requires a little food prep, but mostly of the slicing and (optional) toasting/microwaving variety.  Here we discuss looking at ingredients on processed foods, and we also describe some really minimal prep options (see #5, for example, sandwiches).  When you’re middle-class or upper-middle class, most anything you can get from the grocery store is going to be affordable compared to eating out and you’ll save more money avoiding food-waste than skimping on things that make food easier (so don’t feel guilt about buying things that are already chopped/torn/etc).

Katherine says:

In my experience (not having been on one myself, but knowing some people who have and owning a few raw food cookbooks), raw food diets involve a MASSIVE amount of food prep.

I submit that Katherine’s friends get enjoyment (possibly perverse) out of doing that kind of food prep and you can’t sell a raw food cookbook that just says, “wash and eat fruits, veggies, and nuts.”

Cloud says:

I like cooking OK, but hate cooking in the time crunch I usually have during the week. I’m probably less committed to your point (b) than you (I’m a big fan of EDTA and other preservatives, for instance), but do try to avoid excess sugar and more processing and additives than are strictly necessary, and my main trick is to read labels carefully and find favorite brands of convenience foods. There are some that would probably meet your point (b) requirements, and using those can help with your point (c).

For instance, there are pasta sauce brands that really only have tomatoes, onions, garlic, and herbs as their ingredients. If you have access to good fresh pasta (or even good frozen filled pasta, like tortellini), you can mix that with the sauce in very little time. I also have a recipe I love that is essentially tortellini, a can of veggie broth, a can of diced tomatoes, a splash of white wine, spinach and basil. I can handle this recipe even on the crappiest weekday.

I get a lot of recipes like this from Cooking Light. They have a “quick and easy” section that makes good use of convenience foods.

The only caveat to my method is that it took a lot of time at the grocery store for a few weeks, while I read all the labels and found the brands I liked for the convenience food.

We’re fans of “pour sauce A over noodles/rice B”.  Sometimes we throw frozen veggies or even meat in.  Honestly, most nights we don’t do anything as complicated as what Cloud is describing– that sounds like a weekend meal for us(!) since it requires opening more than one can.  Al fresco dinners that contain some fruit or veggies (and your choice of protein/starch/etc.) are AOK and your ancestors would totally recognize them (assuming they were lucky enough to have fruit available).  We give permission.  If you want to just have snap peas and carrots and some bread, go for it.  Or microwaved mixed veggies with or without a pat of butter (something I ate a lot of while pregnant because it didn’t come back up again), also fine (though frozen veggies provide some waste :( ).

Grumpy Nation, how would you help bogart?

What would your the bachelorette/bachelor season look like?

I’ve never watched the bachelor/ette franchise or really any reality shows, though I did enjoy the first season of a reality show spoof where everybody but one dude was an actor.  However, as you may know, I have really gotten into this bachelorette podcast.

From what I gather, at the start you have 25 members of the opposite sex vying for your attention.  I don’t think they get to pick the 25 guys, though they do get to send a certain number home each week.  Then each episode has two group dates and one one-on-one date.  Apparently one of the things bachelor/bachelorettes get to do is to choose kinds of dates to go on.  So if they like “manly men” this could include boxing and sumo wrestling and so on.

Watching guys beat each other up doesn’t sound very entertaining to me.

If you had 25 guys (and/or women) vying for your hand, what kinds of dates would you want to go on?  Keep in mind you choose group dates as well as individual.  There are also competitions and the person who wins the competition doesn’t get eliminated that week.

I would definitely want a cooking contest.  (A quick google shows they’ve done this for the Bachelor, but not for the Bachelorette.  Sexist.)  I might also want something where they have to work at a daycare or after school tutoring or something (not teaching sex ed though, as they did in one season of the Bachelorette).  Also maybe a housecleaning contest.  And volunteering at an animal shelter. Pretty sure those would make great tv, because hunky guys doing housework and volunteer work is hawt. Hunky men with kittens, no brainer.

Single dates could include the opera or bookstores or cheese tasting… all sorts of other things that are quiet and boring for TV.  Hm.  Gosh.  I’m not sure how I would want to spend one-on-one time with someone that would make for good tv.  Oh wait, this is a big tv franchise so I should think big.  Like, let’s go to La Scala.  Sight-seeing in London.  On a food tour of Italy.  Bread making in Germany.  Hiking in Muir Woods.  Behind the scenes at a Hank Green concert.

Also there’s a chance to meet celebrities. So like one time they had a stand-up comedy contest coached by Amy Schumer. So you could, for example, have an erotica writing contest judged by John Scalzi. Or Alton Brown could judge their cooking. Or you could have Adam Savage or Grant Imohara just a rube goldberg contest. Whoever you want to meet.

You can get publicity for your causes.

#1: Maybe we should have our bachelors come up with ways to make the public aware of violence against women
#2: Maybe we should have them come up with a way to STOP it. A true challenge.

We live in interesting times

We live in interesting times.

I often think that this is must have been like what it felt for our parents growing up in the 60s.  Marches and riots and violence in the news all the time, but a sense that progress was finally being made.

Life was so much easier during the booming 90s.  Of course, that’s not really true.  Life was easier for us white folk, and we just didn’t know about what was going on elsewhere.  The Rodney King riots were a glimpse into what life was like for others, but the rest of us really stopped paying attention until recently.

One of the reasons Hamilton is doing so well is that it isn’t really about the 18th century.  It is about today.  This musical number really encapsulates it.

Change comes slowly and then it comes all at once.

Change comes with violence.  Or rather, that’s what we perceive.  Those of us who are sheltered and privileged.  The violence was always there.  On the plantations.  Against share-croppers.  Burning crosses on lawns.  Killing people in our cities.  Lynching, rape, murder, beatings.  Those of us who are outside don’t notice.  We believed things were accidents and tragedies or isolated incidents or provoked by criminals.  But that’s not what was going on.  That’s not what is going on.

Like now, change happens when violence is made visible.  Then violence escalates.  Violence escalates because the people in power, the ones doing the terror attacks against minorities, the ones subjugating their wives, girlfriends, and daughters, are afraid.  And they are afraid.  And violence is their only real weapon.

Which isn’t actually true.  Violence is not and has never been their only real weapon.

The Voting Rights Act was in response to their hold on local governments.  They own state and local governments again.  We MUST organize locally.  We must pay attention to downstream races.  We must run candidates even in red areas.

They’ve owned the media before, they own some of the media now.  Fox News isn’t the first news organization to have a racist misogynist agenda.  Not the first media organization to sway angry poor uneducated white men for their own causes.  It makes sense for uneducated white losers to want to keep women and minorities down– if they don’t have them to scapegoat and feel superior to, then they’ll be at the bottom of whatever metaphor you can think of.  It doesn’t make as much sense for the people who control these empires.  Why are there evil rich people?  Is it because they want more power than their horrible rich white associates?  But isn’t it better to be a Philanthropist than a Bond Villain?

Revolution means progress.  But revolutions are rarely easy.  Those in power fight back to maintain the status quo.

It’s best when revolutions occur with the fewest lives lost.  With the least blood spilt.

I think there’s a politician and bureaucrat who can help the revolution shed less blood while moving forward.  But she can only do it if she gets support downstream.  Senators.  Representatives.  State Government.  VOTEWRITE.  Be angry.  Protest.  Support protestors.  Become woke and stay it, even when the media moves on to the next story.  We want a government for all people, not just some of the people.

And after this movement dies down, we’ll still have a long way to go.  But let’s go as far as we can towards equality of opportunity, freedom, peace, and happiness as we can, so that maybe it won’t be as hard or dangerous next time around.  And so people can live closer to their best lives while we wait for the next revolution to bring them closer still.

#Imwithher