•  Solution to the CSA turnip problem:  veggie spears with dip.  Turns out raw turnip is pretty inoffensive.
  • MIL was being reticent about accepting our portion of the cabin/hotel costs (or even letting us know what said costs are– thankfully there’s google to give guestimates based on posted website prices), so we just sent her a check for $800.  She cashed it.  Victory!  (I hope that means it was a reasonable amount and not that we low-balled the costs.)
  • I took a whole bunch of “what anime should I watch next” and they all said ouran high school host club even though they all had different questions.  But I’ve seen it literally three times.  I do own the dvds… maybe I should just give in.  I kind of want to rewatch yamato nadeshiko shichihenge and I also own that so maybe.  I bet the kids are old enough to enjoy scrapped princess.
  • As I often do when I can’t figure out an anime to watch, I read some manga.  This time around I found Kimagure Orange Grove since I last saw the anime like 20 years ago.  What gets me this time around is how current some of the 1980s fashions look (even though my closet is full of brand-new 60s-style print dresses!).  In the past 1980s manga/anime has seemed really dated by the clothing, but no more!  I guess everything old is new again.
  • DC2 is really into books about people (kids, cats, etc.) behaving badly.  Hir favorites were David of No David! fame and Bad Kitty (of Bad Kitty fame).  Hir swimming instructor recommended Junie B. Jones, which I purposefully never ever got for DC1… but we picked one up at the library for DC2.  I’m hoping that the explanation that Junie B. Jones does NOT behave well (and DC2 would NEVER behave like her) will be sufficient.  After all zie hasn’t behaved like David or Bad Kitty… I worry a little because when I was little I would sometimes pretend to be book characters, but some of that was me not being mentally stimulated enough, and we work hard at getting our kids mental exercise.  But DC2 is ok with but not crazy about Magic books (like The Magic Treehouse), unlike DC1 at this stage, and zie isn’t yet into mysteries… so if one wants DC2 to eagerly read chapter books, one has to supply what DC2 likes.  (I forget when DC1’s love of mysteries suddenly and mysteriously started, but I think it was closer to age 6.)
  • Nice kitty has learned how to play fetch with her favorite toy– a thick shoelace that she wants us to drag on the ground so she can chase it.
Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: . 30 Comments »

Do you need work or would you love 100% leisure time?

#2 and I were talking the other day.

She is happiest when her money needs are taken care of but she doesn’t have a job.  She reads.  She rides horsies.  She plays with kittens at the animal shelter.  She enjoys life.  Employment requires a higher dose of anti-depressants.

Her DH is the same– he enjoys not working.  He has no work stress if he has no work.

If they were independently wealthy they’d never work again!

I, on the other hand, vacation very badly.  I hate not working.  I mean, I love not working on weekends except to read novels, do chores, and hang out with the fam, and probably a 30 hour work week would be ideal if I could just get everything done I needed to get done in that time, but I like having a job.  Depending on where I am and what the activities are, after a week or two weeks of forced vacation I start getting depressed.  Whenever I get 3 months off, I start writing a (very bad) novel.  Thankfully a summer is the most I’ve ever not had either school work or research to do.  These days, summers mean I get to work on research with fewer interruptions.  I’m happiest when I have a manageable to-do list that I can just crank through.  It is true that I prefer having done things to getting things done, but it’s hard to have one without the other.  And I love the feeling of flow.  I like helping people and things grow.  I like getting checks for things I would have done anyway.  I love money and income so much.  I love not having to think about our expenditures.  I don’t know that I’d do this job without this paycheck, but I would be doing something work-like.

My DH needs work too, but his reasons are that he needs regular feedback and validation on what he’s doing and he needs to feel as if he’s making the world a better place.  He doesn’t actually need paid employment, but he does need a regular occupation.  It is no surprise that whenever he shows up at a non-profit meeting (be it activism or DC1’s former school) he’s immediately given assignments which he carries out faithfully.

What about you?  Do you need work or would you be perfectly happy entertaining yourself non-productively?  Or are there productive things you’d like to do outside of the work framework?  (To be fair, petting shelter-kitties is both enjoyable *and* productive, though not lucrative.)

Link Love

If you read one thing this week from this list, make it this transcript

A gofundme campaign is not health insurance.  Surely we could provide insulin to all type I diabetics… there’s very little moral hazard there unless there’s some use for insulin for non-diabetics that I’m not aware of.

A thread about assault of people who question your views.

Why they can’t, literary style

Turns out Trump didn’t actually save jobs at Carrier.

Neil Gaiman will do a reading of the cheesecake factory menu if this site raises 500K for refugees

Oh Jeez


So much this

I’m glad my DH isn’t like this

This is where I’m at too (though I have different aged toes)

How to keep your group motivated


The TSA found a Scientist’s 3-D Printed mouse penis


A story about Mr. Rogers that made me cry

A saver vs. spender relationship from the perspective of the former spender

Status goods

Working in small vs large offices

What do you do when your day starts later than you’d planned?

I want one of these so much

A day in the life

A book by only its cover


Spanish vs. Mandarin Dual Language programs?

Hypatia Cade asks:

I’m curious about your thoughts (or your readers’ thoughts) – we will have the option to lottery in to 2 dual lang programs: Spanish or Mandarin. There are other pieces of these choices (school location, true public vs. charter, curriculum differences) that make it complex….But if the language of instruction were the only variable would you pick one language over the other? Why? (And to what extent would parental familiarity with a language enter into this?)

I would probably pick Mandarin over Spanish all else equal because it’s easier to pick up Spanish at older ages as an English speaker.  (My assumption would be Mandarin as a child and then Spanish as a third language in middle school and/or high school.)  Both Mandarin and Spanish are useful languages to know — I wouldn’t, for example, choose Dutch over Spanish even though Dutch has similar pronunciation problems to Mandarin for English-speakers, because Dutch isn’t that useful (in my experience, most Dutch speakers you come in contact with know English extremely well and will prefer to use it).  Note here, that I would expect Spanish learning in either scenario– that’s non-negotiable just like swimming lessons, it’s just a matter or whether or not there’s also fluency in Mandarin.

I am pretty fluent in Spanish, but sadly have Kindergarten-level Cantonese rather than Mandarin (of which I only remember how to count up to 999 and how to write the first few numbers and the word for “big” which is the same in Mandarin as it is in Cantonese).  (I also have first grade-level French and a smattering of Latin.  And I’ve picked up a bit of school-girl Japanese from Anime, which is pretty useless unless I need to tell someone to wait or that I like like them.  DH has high school-level German.)  I think I would just trust my kids to pick up the Mandarin in school and would get a tutor if there were learning difficulties along the way.  The dual-language material we have is very adamant that we don’t have to do anything special to get DC2 prepared for dual-language K and that it’s ok if the parents don’t speak Spanish.

Here are some replies from our regular readers:


given Mandarin or Spanish, I’d let my kiddo pick, which would probably result in Spanish. Dad took Spanish, Mom took Mandarin, so that’s not a huge factor. But my kiddo is SO into soccer, and Spanish means ze can translate when we go on dream Argentina trip ;-)

If I were factoring in efficacy of language training (i.e. how proficient they are likely to end up), I’d lean toward Spanish. Though for that I’d consider possible peers who might help hir practice too. Pronunciation on Mandarin is probably easiest to learn very young, but this wasn’t the trickiest part to me. The thing I think was really hard about Mandarin was the writing. Are they doing simplified characters, or traditional, and when do they bring in typing? It’s very challenging, and I wouldn’t suggest it for most kids until about age 11 or so.


One consideration might be which language is easiest to reinforce from home or environment. I have 5 year old grand child who has been Mandarin immersion from 2 pre-school years and just finishing K. Reads and writes and speaks in both English and Mandarin. Both parents speak Mandarin, my co-grandparents speak primarily Mandarin, so lots of reinforcement happened naturally from birth. Had a Spanish speaking nanny before preschool and both parent’s Spanish increased in fluency through those years. But for last two years, post nanny, it has been harder to reinforce and keep in use. Being able to reinforce and use the language outside of school makes a huge difference.


My daughter has dysgraphia so found the Mandarin characters problematic. (She was exposed to both the characters and… pinyan?) In theory learning Mandarin sounds great, but living in the US Spanish may be more useful and enjoyable. My daughter ended up learning French and still keeps it up on her own as a young adult.


We had a choice between Mandarin and Spanish for language immersion programs, and chose Spanish based primarily on the fact that the school that does Spanish is in our neighborhood. We had low probability of getting into either, but got very lucky (a literal lottery win!) and got into the Spanish school in our neighborhood and have loved it. Also, it starts at 9 (with before care provided by the YMCA for a fee) and the Mandarin school starts at 7:45, which even for our early rising kids would have been a struggle and a PITA for the entire family.

We pay for very low key private Mandarin lessons, mostly because my oldest kid really excels at language so we want to let her push on that. But it also means that both kids will have learned the tones at an age when they can really learn them and that should make it easier for them to become fluent in Mandarin later if they want to. Bonus: the Mandarin teacher picks the kids up from the after care program one day per week, giving us extra schedule flexibility on that day. Win-win.

FWIW, we have noticed no real problems with learning two languages at once. I don’t know if that would be true if we were really pushing on the Mandarin, but with our immersion Spanish and low key Mandarin, it seems fine. We have noticed that our younger kid, who was not reading fluently in English before starting the Spanish program, tends to spell English words with Spanish phonics, which is hilariously cute. (Eg, miles is spelled “mayols”) We assume that will sort itself out by about grade 3, when her school starts working on English spelling. She is now reading fluently in English, which should help.

What would you choose, Grumpy Nation?

DC2 got into the dual language program

Which means zie won’t be going to private school or skipping a grade.  At least not right away.

Our plan was either DC2 does public school in the dual language program for kindergarten or zie skips K and goes straight to 1st in private school.  DC2 lotteried into dual-language and will be going to the one on our bus route.  (A benefit of being rezoned into one of the worst school zones is that’s also where the specialty programs are housed in the hopes of getting high SES parents and kids involved with the school.)

I’m not sure how to feel about this development.  On the one hand, dual-language is awesome.

On the other hand, while DC2 doesn’t need to skip two grades at this point (recall DC1 started K early and did K and 1 at the same time–DC2’s birthday is right before the deadline unlike DC1’s), zie really does not need to take K.  Zie can read pretty much anything at this point and writes pretty well (with some getting letters and numbers backwards a lot much like I did at hir age) and is up to double-digit addition and subtraction without carrying/borrowing in hir math books.  The state goals for K involve counting to 10 (recall that learning goals for this state are about a year behind those in much of the rest of the country).  Not to mention that class sizes are large, which makes it more difficult for teachers to differentiate and give personalized attention, though obviously some teachers are still good at it.

We’re hoping the second language acquisition will make the lack of other new material in K more bearable.

Starting K early wasn’t possible if we wanted to do dual-language, and skipping dual-language K doesn’t seem like a great idea even if it’s allowed given that DC1 knows very little Spanish.  It’s possible zie could skip dual-language 1st or a later grade, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

So I worry.  I hope we’re making the right decision.  But I know we can course correct if not.

I also hope that my eager, strong, excited DC2 doesn’t get beaten down too much by school.  I hope zie isn’t silenced by expectations and peer pressure.

I want to protect hir.  But I don’t know that I can.

Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: . 23 Comments »

Conversation with a friend about political economy: Two economists lament

In case you wonder what economists talk about when they get together…

Economist 1: I have a friend who is not speaking to me because I sent hir an article by Alan Krueger saying that a $15 min wage is probably too high (after zie made a big deal on social media about attending a “fight for 15” rally). And I have another friend who is avoiding me because zie voted for Trump and knows I think that’s despicable. I think I quit.

Economist 2: Don’t quit! Can you tell hir 15 is probably right for [expensive city]? You’re better off without the Trump supporter in your life. Keep fighting for evidence based policy, even if you only get to see people who truly understand once a year and at work…

Economist 1: I told hir I thought it was right for [other expensive city]. I was nice about it (I thought) and I sent it to hir over email – not publicly on Facebook. But zie’s ticked off anyway. And yes – I probably am better off without the Trump supporter but I’m so disappointed in hir and I’m sad about it.

Economist 2: Maybe if we lived in a different world with more social support and greater support of people getting education and also more automation…

Economist 1: Yes. Exactly. I don’t like arguing with people who are on the same side but… This friend was a strong Bernie supporter [#notallberniesupporters], which I guess explains a lot. Sigh.

Economist 2 [still imagining a theoretical world in which a $15 minimum wage is imposed across the US]: Probably what would happen though is we would have a highly functioning black market with little to no worker protections. *sigh* Reality just doesn’t care about ideals and opinions.

Economist 1: The side that *supposedly* cares about science and evidence won’t listen when the science doesn’t perfectly support their ideals. And everyone hates economists :(

Economist 2: We were briefly listened to under Obama… Everybody should love us– we have a hand for everyone! There are very few one handed economists!

Economist 1: Exactly!!! But instead we get crap from BOTH sides.

Economist 2: It really makes one not believe the median voter model. What bunk! (To think I so strongly believed in it prior to the Gore v. Bush election. How naïve I was.)

Economist 1: Maybe if we didn’t have gerrymandering and the electoral college…

Economist 2: Excellent point.

Have you lost (or gained) friends over politics recently?

Link love for another long week

It is not too early to register to vote

Keep activisting, here’s why!

How the trump administration is destroying the affordable care act through incompetence, not just malice.

Trump administration makes it harder for workers without access to 401K to save for retirement.

Which is a worse dystopia:  Handmaid’s Tale or MadMax?  (But, as a commenter in this Scalzi thread points out– maybe we are already heading towards both)

What about the mother I never had? (death from self-abortion)

The real problem with Ryan and McCarthy’s pre-election conversation about Trump being paid by the Russians.

Russian money laundering for Trump

This underreported video from a couple of weeks ago is worth watching.

Trump suggests imprisoning journalists

MSNBC is ending one of their top rated shows because it is taking a “hard turn to the right” for no good business reason.  It seems they’re letting ideology get in the way of profit maximizing.  Or perhaps they have bigger political plans that actual liberals are too skeptical to fall in line with.

How to comment if you want to keep the national monuments Trump wants to get rid of


Doomed to repeat it.

The cost of leaning in

Is this career advice helpful or harmful?

Cool idea

That might have been a little racist

h/t delagar for this link (that #2 already knew about) of sex advice for teens

The reasons for NOT writing listed here are among the most insightful I’ve seen

How to invest in your accumulation years

Edible games

Asking strangers why they read

I love this magazine article title.  Black twitter’s response to the content



Ask the Grumpies: The Ideal University

SP asks

Thoughts how an ideal university would function, use of adjuncts, what is the purpose of a university? Is it to educate students and conduct research, and what is the weight of these functions.

I read occasional news media about these topics, and they hit similar themes that sometimes don’t ring true. Most recent example article (posted in my FB news feed by a former adjunct English professor at a university): http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/09/higher-education-college-adjunct-professor-salary/404461/

^ ok, a note on the above paragraph.  I must have written it [#2 does not have and has never had FB] but I have no memory at all of doing it.  I just read the article and don’t remember ever seeing it before.  Apparently I have lost all my memorial faculties, but I’ll comment on it now.

I have no memory of it whatsoever.But here’s a thought: Tuition is high not because there are too many administrators. It’s because states have disinvested and the feds have made unfunded mandates [#2 says, yes, this is what the research says as well]. Also, the cost of health insurance has skyrocketed, which is one of the biggest expenses for a university, aside from salary [#2 isn’t as sure about this, but maybe?].

It’s true that adjuncts are treated poorly, yes!But there are whole *systems* that need to be fixed because people voted for legislators that didn’t fund education and because health insurance companies are for-profit (among other reasons).  But yes, adjuncts don’t get paid enough. I agree there.  Adjuncts should also not be required to mentor students nor write rec letters, unless they are full-time actual faculty (even if not TT).

(I see that this doesn’t answer your question, SP, but please forgive my wool-gathering.)

There are many purposes to a university and many ways to have an ideal university.

On the subject of adjunct pay and working conditions, #2 is kind of like… that’s where supply and demand hit.  Getting a humanities PhD needs to be less attractive so it isn’t so easy to find a phd willing to work a crap job at minimum wage.  (Note:  we pay our adjuncts 10K/class and many of our lecturers make ~100K/year on top of their day jobs.)

This paper discusses compensation of faculty members.  It seems to be optimal for some definitions of optimal, but I only really read the abstract.

I don’t know what the purpose of a university is or what the ideal balance between teaching and research is.  We need research because it provides positive spillovers to society and is unlikely to be privately funded.  We need to teach students so they will become productive members of society.  I don’t know if we should move to SLACS and think-tanks or if we should keep on with our continuum of community colleges/SLACS/R3/R2/R1/think tanks.  I mean, I guess if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  Though I do think we need more government funding to decrease the cost of education, particularly for those who are credit constrained because it is the only way we know of to productively reduce income inequality in an increasingly automated society.

So that’s not much of an answer either.  Maybe Grumpy Nation has better opinions.

Opine for us, Grumpy Nation!  What is the ideal university?

Haunting the Middle-Grade Library Stacks

#2 likes to read Regency romances when stressed.  I like them too, but I can’t read a lot of them in a row.  In the worst of my stress and anxiety, I found myself gravitating to the middle-grade stacks in the local library.  Soothing.  Here are some books:

The Anastasia series by Lois Lowry.  I love these so much!  Anastasia, Absolutely… One of my favorites is Anastasia, Ask Your Analyst (hilarious hijinks).  I have read the whole series at least once or twice.  They do have an order, but it’s not important to me.

The Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda.  The beginning of an adventure series with two kids in peril, based on Hindu mythology.

School for Sidekicks by Kelly McCullough.  A kid learns that not every super-human is a hero, and not all heroes or sidekicks are what they seem.  Happy ending!

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman.  Beautiful and also a happy ending.  What happens when people find out that your brother isn’t… like everyone else?

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier.  Very pretty and moving graphic novel about family, love, ghosts, and culture.  Read it!

Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill.  Another graphic novel for younger kids.  Princesses can do all sorts of active things.

I read all of Zilpha Keatley Snyder when I was young.  Turns out, she kept on writing while I grew up, and I found a bunch of her newer stuff (ca. 2008) on the shelves.  Try finding magic and friendship in The Unseen.

Grumpeteers, do you read any children’s books for comfort?  Which ones?

Giving money instead of stuff to school events

Schools often seem to be really into the idea of kids bringing stuff from home for parties and for crafting.  (DC1’s middle school probably spends more class time making pointless crafts than any prior school year experience, even back when ze was taking a daily art class at private school.  *grumble*.  Also they seem to have a ton of pot-lucks.)

One of our new discoveries this year was that instead of trying to figure out how on earth DC1 is going to get a pie on the school bus and to an appropriate teacher without destruction (or worse, one of us having to drop it off at school!), was that we could just write a check or send DC1 with a $20 bill for these events and the teachers will use it to purchase whatever it is they’re asking for.  This has improved our lives tremendously.

I do wish they could be a little bit more like the school back in paradise and just ask for a lump sum donation at the beginning of the year instead of these small sums throughout the year, but I also realize that where we live now doesn’t exactly have the same donations base that Paradise had so it’s not quite as easy just to ask for $500 and then have that be enough to cover all the kids who can’t pay or whose parents won’t pay.  It turns out that there’s even a state law of some kind that says the orchestra can only do fundraisers to cut the costs of all tickets to events, not to make the events free for kids whose parents can’t pay.  (It turns out, however, that directed donations can still be used for that purpose– I got a nice note of thanks with a receipt when we wrote a $64 check instead of a $32 check for DC1’s most recent orchestra field trip. $32 is a lot of money when you’re trying to make ends meet!)

So yay, even if they don’t always ask for cash, cash can still be king.

If you have school children (or if you teach), how does your school deal with needed stuffs?  What would you prefer they do?