link love

Upright citizens brigade

I was not expecting the park rangers to lead the resistance.

US Embassy in UK was advertising for Mar-a-Lago.  (I clicked on it before it went down– this really happened.)

GOP is trying to destroy health care again.  Here’s how it could affect consumers.

SO MUCH THIS.  There are ways you can make REAL CHANGE.  And they don’t involve telling underrepresented groups that they’re doing it wrong.

Bail a mama out for mother’s day.

He was a misogynist before testosterone.  Also shame on TAL.

Letters to the editor.

Archie comics artist refused entry to USA from Canada over her sketches


Here’s a post of ours that I’ve spent ages trying to find and couldn’t and then just randomly came across.

How online shopping makes suckers of us all.

A handy flow chart for whether or not you should answer the phone.

This is a fantastic thing you should try when you have time.

Ask the Grumpies: Knife recommendations

monsterzero  asks:

I need to get a nice sharp knife, mostly for chopping vegetables; any suggestions?

We like our Shun knives, but they are way more expensive than you need. The “best” knives on the market are much cheaper.  So, as beautiful as the Shun knives are, you can spend a fraction of their cost to get a great set of knives.

Generally if you only have one kitchen knife, you want it to be a utility knife.  I’ve noticed that a lot of “knives you must have” lists on the internet disagree with me on this, instead saying that you should have a chef’s knife and a paring knife, but we use the utility knife all the time both to slice and to pare, and we pretty much never use our paring knife.  We actually have two utility knives, our beautiful Shun knife and a more moderately priced Kitchen Aid version.  Henckels and Victronix both get good ratings online.  Note that these are sometimes listed as small chef’s knives instead of utility knives.  Generally you want 6 inches.

If you have two knives, then you should get a chef’s knife if your hands are big or a santoku if your hands are small (I love my santoku, DH usually uses the chef’s knife instead).  Victronix again wins accolades for the chef’s knife.  Seriously, Cook’s Illustrated raves about their 8 inch chef’s knife which is now ~$40 rather than the $27 it was when their ratings came out.  For santokus, it may be worth paying the extra money to get Shun or Wusthof.  Note that you chop differently with these two types of knives (the Santoku doesn’t rock)– you may want to watch a video or two if you’re not used to the kind of knife you end up with.

If you get a third knife, it should be a bread knife if you like to eat a lot of bakery-style bread.  We decided on this one from Tojiro for my little sister after discovering her hacking through artisan bread with her chef’s knife at Christmas.  At $18 it is a bargain.

Then maybe a paring knife (we never use ours though).

And that’s really all you need unless you want one for carving turkey.

One item that we really appreciate having is an electric knife sharpener.  If your local farmers market has a knife sharpening station where they sharpen by hand using a stone, that’s probably going to be better for your knives, but there’s a lot to be said for getting a quick sharpen at home and just replacing the knife a few years earlier than you would had you gotten them professionally sharpened each time, since you will still get decades of use out of the knives.  There are a lot more options now than when we got ours, but Chef’s Choice is still the sharpener people recommend.  I bet you can get away with the $40 version, but there are also $180 versions which I hope will carve at angles for you (something you would need for hunting knives, but not so much kitchen knives).

Grumpy nation, what knives do you love?  Which ones do you regularly use?  How do you keep your knives sharp?

A solution for DH’s snoring

This would probably not work with #2’s husband who is all CPAP’d up and whose snoring was so bad prior to CPAP that they once had to have separate beds on *separate floors* of a house.

My DH’s snoring hasn’t been quite so bad.  He’s had a couple things checked for it but it isn’t anything dealing with the dentist or some other thing that the doctor checked out.  It also tends to disappear when he’s in good shape and only creeps up when he tips into overweight, which is most of the time.  Obviously the best solution would be for him to get buff… but as that’s not a realistic forever solution, I appreciate this one weird trick that seems to be working.

Basically he bought this cylindrical pillow.  You can get it for <$25 on Amazon (you can also get it for >$60 on Amazon– choose the <$25 option… it is the same pillow either way).  And it works.  I don’t know why it works or how it works, but I sleep so much better when he’s using it than when he’s using his beloved regular pillow.  He doesn’t find it as comfortable as his regular pillow, but you know the saying, Happy Wife, Happy Life?  That’s a good saying.

(Reminder that we’re amazon affiliates, so if you click and buy we get some small percent.)

Do you have any snoring stories or solutions? 

DH and the kids are going on a real vacation

sort of…

We do a lot of traveling, mostly for work, which means we haven’t really been on any vacations that aren’t connected with a conference or someone getting married.  Almost all of our vacation time is spent in DH’s home town (population ~3K and falling) at the grandparents’ because DH needs to see his extended family at least once a year or he starts getting maudlin and depressed.  So essentially everywhere we’ve been, someone else is paying for our housing and often part of our meals or some of our travel.  Or there’s been a wedding.*  When we’re low on cash, we spend a day and another one back driving to get to DH’s home town (it is a very long day).  When we’re flush with cash or miles or rates are especially low, we will fly instead which cuts the time spent traveling by about 2/3.

This year DH’s parents are both retired so we’re going to try something different.  Not, you know, too different.  But still a little different.

Last year, DH’s brother’s company transferred him and he ended up moving near DH’s sister.  So last summer DH’s parents rented a couple of cabins in a state park near the town DH’s siblings live in and they spent a few days there as an extended family.  This year, DH wants to join them with the kids.  So after some discussion (and realizing that everybody in the world wants to visit peak tourist places like Yellowstone during peak tourist season which drives the prices way up), they decided to go to the same place as last year and DH and the kids will fly in to the nearest big city, rent a car, and drive down to the cabins.  After a few days there, they’ll spend a night in the city and fly home.  (Me, I will be staying home getting work done because I have to go to TWO conferences the next week.  :/ )

It’s like a real vacation!

When this was initially discussed, we talked about splitting the costs for the cabins, since DH would be adding an additional family and we want to subsidize his less-flush siblings.  Plus we’d just found out that DH would indeed be working in April and May so we were going to have more money than we’d anticipated.  AND DH’s dad is retiring and his parents are going to have to start budgeting again for the first time, so there’s no need for them to shoulder the entire expense.  But DH’s mom is being difficult about it (we finally got a “we’ll talk about it later” from her) so we’re going to have to figure some way to pay/subsidize.  Maybe we’ll pay for the hotel the night in the city and DH can pay for food purchases if she won’t let us write a check to her for half the cabins.

With some research, it looks like they’ll be paying $450/night (plus tax) for 3 nights = $1350 for the cabins.  We’re going to try to pay half of that:  $675

Airfare for DH and two kids came out to= $937 (We don’t have enough miles on the right airlines to make it worth while to use miles for this trip.)

Then there will be one night in a big city (estimated) = $250/room (if we go for near the touristy stuff rather than near the airport– airport hotels are closer to $150/room)

Car rental + gas for us (estimated) = $350 (though we may find a better deal closer to the time)

Food (estimated– a total guess because who knows) = $200

So total cost (not including incidentals):  $2,182

Which seems like a lot of money for 5 days for 3 people, but also not a lot of money for a vacation compared to what we see when people go fancier places than a Midwestern state park.  (Going on a weekend would have cost double the cabin fee!)


*We honeymooned in beautiful London… Ontario (the one in Canada).  Which is kind of like honeymooning in Ann Arbor if you could daytrip to Niagra Falls from there.  We did not have a lot of money.

What do you do for vacations?  How often do you go on them?

Link Love while we’re at the MARCH FOR SCIENCE!!!

#2 is in DC marching for science.  I had been planning on going to our uni’s march, but then they changed the time and place and had competing Earth Day events so I said screw it and we’re at the march in the nearest big city.  DH and DC2 have lab coats and if you see someone with a homemade “Dismal Scientist” t-shirt, that’s probably me.  Here’s the link for satellite marches in your area.  Slather on some sunblock and head out!

An app that makes it easy to pester your congress member.

Help people get voter IDs in Georgia.


Gloria Steinem and Chelsea Handler

In a move that doesn’t surprise anybody, TX lawmakers either don’t care about women’s health OR else they want women to be sick and dying.  Why does TX hate women?

Today in DTMFPA


Nothing was weird at the whitehouse egg roll at all.  Nothing.  At All.

Venture capitalists

Washington Post uses data on social security disability that is just wrong.

USA Facts

Redshirting may do more harm than good


This is an interesting phone scam.

I believe that this happened because on my flight back home there was a United flight attendant being a jerk about exactly the same thing.  United was so nice and well behaved on my way to the conference, but completely awful a few days later on the way back.  (I told the guy who had to go back to my row that at least he hadn’t been dragged back to his seat.)

I still want to publish scenes and rage against machines

How to support authors if you can’t afford to buy their books.

How to cite tweets if you use MLA

Tales from Olive Garden

Tiny SF short stories.

Googly questions and answers

Q:  how to make drama on the internet

A:  Say something disapproving about a parenting choice

Q:  is there a project for brewsters millions

A:  Dream on!

Q:  gremlin names for cats?

A:  Stick with the classics, Gizmo, Mogwai etc.

Q:  why do humans need comfort

A:  Because we live in interesting times

Q:  money tie up in a paid off house now what

A:  Invest new extra money in retirement?  College savings?  Spend it?  You could take out a home equity loan, but that may not be a good option.  Remember, talk with a real financial professional (and NOT someone from Edward Jones) before making any major financial decisions.

Q:  should kids have jobs?

A:  Meh

Q:  what do you mean by grumble and lavish money

A:  I don’t mind the former if it results in the latter…

Q:  what does it mean when things increase faster than inflation

A:  When we talk about this with money, if something is increasing at the rate of inflation that means that the true price isn’t actually changing.  You can buy the same amount of candy bars as before if your money has also been increasing at the rate of inflation.  If a cost is increasing faster than the rate of inflation (health care, education, etc.) that means it’s actually getting more expensive even if your money is growing at the rate of inflation.  The real costs of these things is increasing, not just the stated (nominal) costs.

Q:  funny things that say something?

A:  My DH is a good example of this…

Q:  meaning of grampy bitch

A:  You should be more respectful of your grandparents!  Even if they’re jerks…  Well, maybe if they’re jerks you should stop visiting them at the nursing home, it’s hard to say.  Like, is it dementia or have they always been that way?

Sympathy and the Other

Disclaimer:  This post is (intentionally) written from the perspective of a white (CIS/Christian) middle-class American.

Akata Witch is an interesting book.  It’s been touted as “Harry Potter set in Nigeria” but it has connected itself directly to an American audience in the way that many older fantasy novels do– by putting a member or two of its audience in the “other” land.  We Americans connect to Akata through the eyes of Sunny, an (albino…) American/Nigerian who has moved back to Nigeria.  If Sunny isn’t enough, there’s also Sasha, a black boy from Chicago who, other than the being-able-to-do-magic part, is almost a stereotype.  These two connections to the United States bring us to the foreign land.  Sunny is the reader.  She’s American.  She reacts in ways that the reader understands.  We have sympathy for her because we can imagine being in her shoes and that connection brings us along to her situation in the magical (Leopard) communities of Nigeria.

Similarly, we are put into the doctor’s shoes on the recent United Flight– we’ve paid for our seats on overbooked flights and had somewhere we needed to be the next day.  The doctor in this case was Asian, but even Fox News chose not to “other” him.  “His nightmare could be yours,” say the headlines.  And it can.  Even if you’re an upper middle-class professional who travels in coach.

Sean Spicer’s recent comments about the Holocaust were a direct effort at trying to “other” Jewish people.  When he said that Hitler did not use chemical weapons on his own people, it is far more likely that those comments were deliberate than made from ignorance.  Either he’s signaling to Holocaust deniers that Trump’s one of them, or, and more likely, he’s opening up the question:  Were German Jews German?  As good Americans born after WWII, many of whom fought or had parents or grandparents who fought (or tended to soldiers) for the rights of Jews and others that Hitler oppressed, we’ve been brought up to believe that Jewish people are part of us– they’re Judeo-Christian.  They’re white.  That could have been us.  First they came… for us.  (Sadly, we have not been taught as well to enlarge that grouping to hold other faiths, ethnicities, skin colors.)

But Spicer separates out that melding.  He suggests that no, German Jews aren’t German.  They’re Jews.  Hitler didn’t gas his own people.  He gassed Jews (and homosexuals and Roma and other minority groups).  Implicitly what Spicer is telling us is that it is ok for the government to gas a minority group.  He’s othering Jews, and saying that because they are the other it is ok for government to mistreat them.  Much like what we will be doing to our immigrants who the government is already ripping from their families, herding together, and taking to detention centers.  Will he argue that whatever abuse they endure in those centers is ok because they’re not us?  They’re also the “other”.  I think he will.  Charles Clymer has more on the dangers of Spicer’s comments in this 66 part tweet that he really should have storified.  It is well worth reading even if you have to click for more a bunch.

I admit, it is hard for me to care as much when an attack happens in a Middle Eastern war zone or in France to people chosen at random as it is when it happens in a college in the United States.  Or someplace I’ve lived.  Or to children nearly the same age as my own.  We feel more worry and more pain the more similar the victims are to people we know personally and personally care about.  With “the other” we can feel sadness and empathy, but perhaps not sympathy.  It’s less scary when we think it can’t happen to us.  It’s easier to go about our day after reading the news headlines when their violence doesn’t remind us of our own lives.

In Akata Witch, the Americans provide connections to us.  They’re not the other to us because in a world that is strange to us, they provide us with grounding that we understand.  They are us and we are them.  The doctor on the United flight stands in for our experiences traveling– we, too, could be treated poorly without recourse.  Even with a fancy degree or important job.

Let’s not allow the government or society to “other” more people.  Let’s stand with our fellow humans.  American Jews are Americans.  We are a nation of Immigrants.  We should not allow cruel and unusual punishment to people who are not “us”, but we should also not allow anybody to break “us” into pieces of “them.”  #resist.

Of interest:  a history of the sanctuary movement

Actions from 5-calls that you can take to protect people:
Sanctuary cities
Syrian Refugees
Afghan allies

How often do you have to buy new plates and glasses: Musings on breakage

We recently stopped at Target and bought some new glasses and a Corelle set to replace those that have been broken lo these past few years.

How many years, you ask?  I can actually tell you that because deciding to buy Corelle caused some internet drama when I realized it would be foolish to get a nice set of Lenox or Wedgewood to replace the brave floral plates that had fallen over the years.  That post was up in Summer of 2014, so it seems like it takes 3 years for 2 children to force replacement purchasing.  Given that purchase happened in 2014, I can also calculate that it takes 6 years for one child (and two sleep deprived parents) to force replacement purchasing. (We initially had another set that we got rid of because life is too short to live with dinnerware that is not microwave safe).

Last time we picked out tumblers that were most like our previous glasses.  Fortunately for us, this newer style is still in stock after 3 years.  So we’re down to one tall glass and two shorter tumblers in the old style along with 8 tall ones in the new style and too many of the shorter tumblers to fit in their special place in the cupboard.  I guess the tall ones are more likely to break even though we never give them to small children.

For china, last time we bought more we decided we wanted plain white easy-to-replace difficult-to-break Corelle.  Even if we could afford something fancier.  Corelle is nice because it is much more likely to bounce safely than our previous higher quality porcelain.  Sadly, when it does break it shatters into a zillion thin shards rather than the two or three large pieces that nicer china falls into, which means after sweeping and vacuuming we still have to mop the floor just to be sure.  The choice of plain white seems to have been a good one as it is still available and I didn’t shed too many tears getting a new set.  Of course, now we have way too many coffee cups as they never seem to break and they come with the Corelle set.

My parents would just pick up bits and pieces from other people’s former sets at garage sales and didn’t buy a new matched set until both children were off to college and no longer washing dishes by hand.  We don’t really have time for garage sales, so $40 every few years at Target seems like a reasonable purchase for us.

How long does your china and glassware last?  How do you replace it (new sets or single pieces?  same design or different?)?  Is your cupboard full of mismatched former sets waiting for the final piece to break like ours is?

From out of the briny deep… link love! (or kraken, but probably link love)


#2’s kid is playing this game

#1 cannot stop watching these tiny kittens #adoptdontshop #spayandneuter

This is our new favorite Twitter follow, with the three stages of a woman’s life.

One of many takes on the recent United ish.  Another (lengthy) twitter thread that should have been a blog post: in 66 parts.  And more United.  Ugh.  So few airlines, so many cock-ups to go around.

Twitter says, buy index funds.  Maureen Johnson tweeted an excellent GIF.

Apparently this is inspiring.  (sorry, I guess everything’s tweets this week or something?  #2 reads twitter every day but I don’t usually, so I’m really out of touch with what twitter does these days.)  But because it’s been everywhere, even I know about this wonderful baby video–  so frickin’ cute!

Speaking of inspiring, I registered for this.  And I guess young people are less politically polarized than old people, so… progress?

Outstanding podcasts for readers!  (I like some of them; others I’ve never heard of.)

Here’s a video.


Leave us notes in the comments with more GIFs and/or baby videos and/or baby animals.

Ask the Grumpies: Work clothing?

Leah asks:

Do you have to dress up for work? When you do, have you found any brands/stores with a good balance of comfortable and work-appropriate? I am a fan of the dressed up look that doesn’t require any pain.

#1 has to wear business or business casual and gets most of her clothing at the Loft outlet.  Loft is way less fussy and more washable than the standard Ann Taylor.  In the summer she goes much lower scale business casual, but it’s still nice fitted short sleeve shirts rather than what she wears on weekends (which is mostly unisex protest t-shirts or DH’s old t-shirts that are too ratty to wear outside but are really comfy for sleeping and lounging around the house in).

#2 I dress from business casual down to “not actually my pajamas.” I have no brand suggestions, I wish that I did. Sometimes Ann Taylor/ LOFT does me well, but it depends on the season. The pants are fairly reliable for me but I haven’t tried the dresses. They last pretty well (the pants).

#1 always gets really really depressed trying on Ann Taylor pants because they were not made for her, uh, womanly figure.  Some Loft pants are ok.