A remembered kindness

Trigger warning:  Middle school bullying

It is 3am and I just woke up from a nightmare about middle school.  Well, it was sort of about middle school and sort of about graduate school in the way that dreams are.  I was fumbling for money for the light rail and shades from middle school showed up to make fun of how I was in PE…

Middle school was extremely traumatic.  It has taken me decades to (I thought) mostly get over it.  But apparently I can still have anxiety dreams about it.

One of the worst bits (that #2 is tired of hearing about because the girl in question went to our boarding school too) was when a girl at my lunch table who I went to church and choir and Sunday school with and had all my classes with invited all the other girls at the lunch table (and in the G/T track) to her house for an overnight party and deliberately excluded me, complete with whispered not talking about it around me the next day.  The “don’t let her know” part was the worst, I think.  Really drove home that the exclusion was deliberate.  Later her mother was a teacher at boarding school– I should have asked how she let that happen (that’s an insight from 3am).

Once I was invited to an overnight party in middle school.  A very nice girl who wasn’t in my classes but was good friends from elementary school of someone at my lunch table (who both went to my church and occasionally invited me to her house in a “don’t let other people know I invited you” sort of way) and current friends with another girl in my neighborhood who was generally kind to me, invited me to a come as you are party.  A mini-van driven by her mother with a few girls in it showed up to my house, bundled me in, and we went around driving to pick more people up until we landed at her house.  People treated me normally, not like a social pariah.  It was fun.  They feathered my bangs.  We watched a Steve Martin movie on VHS.  We played games like twister.  I listened about boy crushes.  Everyone was nice.  In the morning we had fruit pizza with custard (which became my favorite dessert as of that morning).  She didn’t need to include me, but I was included, and I cherish that memory.

And I suppose I shouldn’t completely blame the girl who excluded me… In 6th grade the math/science teacher was a huge bully and the excluding girl and her best friend were his favorites while I was one of his victims (not an easy mark of a victim though– we had an exam where the instructions explicitly said to always round up in this situation, and he was berating the class as stupid for not rounding down despite what the instructions said.  That led to him saying if I was so smart why didn’t I teach the class and I said I’d be happy to, and then he asked how many people wanted me to teach the class.  I cherish the sole kid in the class brave enough to raise his hand.  I am still grateful to John K.  Sadly, 6th grade was the last year he was tracked into GT math/science so the only time I really came across him again was as a young adult when he was a cashier at Walmart.  Also my parents had complained earlier that year when that teacher gave me a B one quarter even though I’d never earned lower than an A- on an assignment and he switched the grade to an A after he could show no basis for the grade other than some blustering about how my lines weren’t completely straight in my graphs and I needed to better use a straight-edge.  He retired the next year.)  Prior to that year, the first girl had been nice to most people, even including the developmentally disabled girl who was the only person in school equally reviled to me (incidentally, said developmentally disabled girl saw me as lower on the pecking order and would call me names, but I never blamed her for that).  That’s a 3:30am mental connection.  Adults set the tone of school in ways that can have lasting effects.

So… thank you Emily, even though I can’t remember your last name.  I have remembered your kindness throughout my life and have tried to emulate it.  In high school and college and beyond, I have always tried to be inclusive and to never leave anybody out.  The more the merrier.  And I’ve encouraged my children to do the same.  Bullying sucks.  Exclusion sucks.  Small acts of kindness and inclusion can make a big difference in someone’s life.

Another email from indivisible: Stop ACA repeal and replace

The following is excerpted from an Indivisible email.

News just broke that two Republican Senators—Jerry Moran of Kansas and Mike Lee of Utah—will oppose TrumpCare. That means that Republicans DO NOT HAVE THE VOTES to pass the bill.

But let’s be clear: this fight isn’t over. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will pull out all the stops to pass an ACA repeal bill. In fact, after failing to get enough votes to pass this most recent version of TrumpCare, McConnell has now indicated he will try to ram through a straight repeal bill. This is a last-ditch effort—and the only thing that will finish TrumpCare off for good is a wave of constituent power.

Mitch McConnell will keep trying to gut the Affordable Care Act because he would rather cut taxes for billionaires than let 32 million people keep their health insurance—the number that would lose insurance with a full repeal. But every day we stop him is a victory. Stay in this fight with us.

Call your senators today to tell them not to repeal and replace.  5calls doesn’t have a script up yet (I will update later today), but you can just say:

“Hi, I’m calling from [your town and your zipcode], and I would like to request that Senator [name] vote NO on repealing and replacing the affordable care act.”

Here’s a link with phone numbers:  http://myreps.datamade.us/ and you can also google your senator’s name to find phone numbers for regional offices if you can’t get through to the DC office.

Adventures in OMG are we going to have to pay huge amounts of taxes on our slightly under a year in paradise?

Back when we went to Paradise for my leave, we spent hours and hours researching the tax situation.  We read lots of stuff online.  We read articles published in tax journals available from the uni library.  We talked to friends and colleagues who had taken out-of-state leave recently, including one who had both gone to Paradise for leave and who had used a professional accountant.  We called up the tax board in Paradise and asked.

Everything was unanimous (well, except a couple of random internet Q/A things that didn’t really look legit)– if we lived there less than a year, kept our residence here, didn’t register to vote or get a driver’s license etc., then we would only have to pay taxes on income directly from places in Paradise.  We would be considered non-residents, and non-residents only have to pay taxes from Paradise-sources, not from, say, my University salary.

So, of course, the other day in the mail we got two scary tax documents from the Paradise tax board asking us for our 2015 Paradise state taxes.  Apparently the fact that we sent our federal taxes from a Paradise address meant that they expected us to file a return.

Which freaked us out, because our state taxes where we normally live are a pittance compared to state income taxes in Paradise.  We’re talking thousands of dollars if all of our income counted.

So we redid the internet searching and DH called the tax board in Paradise again.

Turns out we had a 1099 from an honorarium I got in Paradise, and although I normally don’t have to pay Paradise state-income taxes on honoraria from Paradise (which I tend to get once every few years), since I was living in Paradise at the time, I did need to pay state income taxes on that income.

So we just needed to file a non-resident tax form, which is a pain, but the only part we’re going to be taxed on is the honorarium plus a small penalty.

We’re talking maximum $100, not the thousands we’d been envisioning.


That was a bit terrifying there, but we can handle $100.

Update:  After about 6 hours of dealing with Paradise non-resident state tax forms, we ended up owing $46 plus $48 in late penalties and interest, for a total sum of $94.  So I guess the penalty wasn’t so small after all!

Link Love

If you live in Colorado, you can become a “confidential voter” meaning that Colorado cannot share your voter information (not even with Trump).

Newest version of the Senate Republican healthcare bill is still a nightmare.  I know we sound like broken records, but we still need everyone to be making those phone calls to senators.  With this new bill they only have two Rs saying no.  It could pass.  We need to keep calling.


Remember the little boy with the heart surgery?  His mom has been getting death threats for sharing their story.

A hero using his privilege for good.

This discussion of race and gender surrounding the bachelor in paradise scandal was really good.  (Trigger: discussions of sexual assault)

Meanwhile:  this season’s Bachelorette is prompting discussions about race and class. (Why racist Lee should never have been on the show in the first place.)

BLM puts out an ad

An interview with Roxanne Gay

Kid Rock is running for senate.

Redneck revolt

Douchebag is still pretty weak, but it is accurate.

Wow, Dr. Jen Gunter and GOOP’s misogynistic, mansplaining hit job.  Note:  GOOP is endangering its readers with pseudoscience in order to sell dangerous products.


#2 is saving the planet!

How pro writers deal with criticism

Ugh, I found out my SIL’s school district is being scammed by a terrible 403(b) provider.  I hope she takes DH’s advice (and my FIL’s advice) to stop contributing to it since it isn’t matched, and to open up a Vanguard IRA instead.  I will rant more about this at length sometime in August (you have to hear about all sorts of other personal money stuff, mostly stuff breaking down, first– sorry!)

Can’t fail with FIRE

Suck it up

I want to eat stuffed pizza

Fun Funny comfort reads for the SFF soul.

Wait for it

David Bowie hogwarts

Oops!  (Also I kinda want to read it…)

Ask the grumpies: Why is healthcare getting more expensive in the US?

Sandy L asks:

What has changed with healthcare that has made costs spiral out of control in the US? Why was healthcare more affordable just a decade ago? Two decades ago it was even cheaper. I am just glad I had my kids then.

Two things are the primary drivers of healthcare cost increases in the US:  1.  more expensive technology and 2.  as people become richer, they demand more/better healthcare.

An unsolved mystery (though top health economists are working on it) is why health technology, unlike other technologies, only seems to be in the “more expensive” direction and not in the “cost-saving” direction.  There are a lot of theories out there but we haven’t really nailed it down, nor do we really know how to change incentives so that healthcare innovations include price-drops instead of just price increases.

There are a lot of other reasons healthcare costs more in the US than in other countries, but you asked about growth, not the level differences.  Still, the fact that our insurance systems are so messed up (leading to lots of red tape, repeated tests, etc.) and the fact that the US is subsidizing innovation for the rest of the world because other countries have price controls on drugs and the US doesn’t are also main contributors to the fact that healthcare costs a lot more in the US than other countries.  We could solve the former with a single-payer system, and the latter would have to be solved either by directly investing in innovation or bargaining with other countries to loosen their price controls on new drugs.  These two items aren’t really getting worse over time though– they just contribute to the overall level differences.  (Malpractice is often brought up by conservatives, and it is a small contributor, but completely getting rid of the problems that malpractice litigation induces if we knew how to do that which we don’t just wouldn’t shave that much cost off.  That’s why policy makers haven’t been focusing on it even though politically there would theoretically be bipartisan support for reform.  There are bigger gains to problems that are easier to solve from an economic standpoint, if only the Republicans cared about you know, economics and efficiency and so on.)

In which #1 and #2 take the Time Magazine Harry Potter Quiz and find out a horrifying truth about #2

#1:  Hey, take this quiz.
I am:
65.5% ravenclaw
32.6% hufflepuff
and the remainder is gryffindor.

#2: hm.

#1: I am a smart coward!

#2: hm.

#1: I’m surprised there’s no slytherin, after all, I–

#2: I’m uh… 70% syltherin

#1: Uh

#2: Indeed

#1: backs away slowly

#2: doot de dooo

#1: I have work ethic and friendliness…

#2: I do NOT have friendliness

#1: I don’t think you’re *normally* slytherin though. Maybe it’s the extra stress you’ve been under?

#2: Mayyyyyyyybeeeeeee

#1: Ulp

#2: [makes mustache twirling motion]

#1: I laugh nervously at your villainy

#2: [steeples fingers]

#1: All this time I had no idea

#2: [maniacal laugh]



What I don’t like about our kitchen

house 049

It isn’t gingham anymore (and that microwave died as part of a series of short-lived microwaves)

When we moved into our house more than a decade ago, we loved everything about it except the kitchen, which was odd because going into the home-buying process, we’d told the real estate agent that the kitchen was the one thing we cared about.  At the time, we thought that the main problems with the kitchen would be easily solved by putting in a new stove and countertops (which we could not then afford to do, but we figured we would be able to do after a year of steady income).  Turns out it was not that easy.

Here’s the things we really dislike about our kitchen:

  • The triangle is all messed up
  • The countertops are the second worst quality and are difficult to clean
  • Water pools on the ledge between the faucets and the backsplash on our sink
  • I can’t use the top oven because it’s too high so I’m likely to burn myself unless I’m extremely careful
  • The stovetop is electric not gas
  • Our sink is chipped (this doesn’t bother me that much though)
  • I kind of wish it were a galley kitchen (though I dunno, maybe with a better triangle, I’d be ok with the current setup)

Because this is all so hard and expensive, we haven’t changed anything.  First because until recently we couldn’t afford it.  Then because it was too difficult.  Like, we’d have to find a designer who could help us fix the triangle, but we haven’t been able to get recommendations for anyone that people like.  And if we move the island, then we may have to redo the flooring.  So many changes, so many choices.  And what if we spend $30K and it ends up just as bad or even worse?

We also had kind of hideous gingham wallpaper, but that has since been painted over.  So we did change one thing about the kitchen!  If I were in charge of the world, we would have natural oak cabinets and natural oak kitchen cabinets would be “in” instead of getting snide comments about how outre they are on home decorating sites.  (We need light colored cabinets for our interior kitchen, and I like natural wood better than paint.)  Instead we have white cabinets, which I can live with.

I do love our pantry though.  Our pantry is awesome.

Any kitchen renovation stories?  Any suggestions about what we should do?  What do you love and hate about your kitchen?