Musings on “gaydar”

I’ve been reading “Fan Art” and one of the things about it that bothers me a little bit is how so many people in the book “know” that the gay people in the book are gay before the characters themselves are comfortable sharing that information.  The school the book is set in is not a nice environment in which to be an out homosexual.  (We still love Boy Meets Boy to death because it treats homosexuality as just a totally regular thing.)

I do not have “gaydar”.

I suspect that I don’t have it because I was fortunate enough to go to a very unusual high school, a super liberal college, and graduate school in an incredibly liberal city, in which people who were out did not necessarily match stereotypes.  By which I mean, it was safe enough to be out that people didn’t have to signal they were homosexual by matching stereotypes, and the people who were out weren’t necessarily outed involuntarily because they matched stereotypes.  That means that from a relatively young age, I’ve known a diverse group of people who were out as homosexual, bisexual, and trans.  I knew actual people, and while a few did match tv and movie stereotypes, most of them didn’t.

Similarly, I’ve known plenty of strong women with short hair who aren’t lesbian and I’ve known “effeminate” men who were married to the mother of their children (and not particularly religious), and if homosexual at least were not identifying as such, and I tend to trust what people say about their preferences.  (Hank Green is a good example of this, but I’ve also met many folks IRL that other folks’ve been surprised to find out aren’t gay.)

I may also not have “gaydar” because I gave up on trying to match-make after some disasters in college and early graduate school and I’ve been married in a monogamous relationship for a long time, so there are not very many instances in which someone’s orientation has been important to me.  If someone is married or partnered, I don’t want to know if they’re in an open relationship because I’m not, and I don’t need to know if they’re attracted to members of a gender different than their spouse.  All I need to know is if I should invite their partner to whatever function it is I’m in charge of (and that is usually solved with “and guest”).  So for the most part I don’t really pay attention, at least not like I did back when I wanted to actively match everybody in the world up.

One of the wonderful things about gay marriage legalization is how it has normalized homosexual/bisexual partnerships.  I have graduate students now who are no longer forced to forever say girlfriend or partner (which could be ambiguous depending on the listener); they can say wife.  They can plan weddings.  It’s wonderful because it means that they can join the same conversations that everybody else is having in a way that’s legitimate and normal for the step in the relationship that they want to be in.  My students are now seeing a diversity of lesbian and bisexual women in committed long-term partnerships.

Unfortunately, where I live right now, gay and male bisexual couples don’t seem to be as normalized as are lesbian and female bisexual couples.  We do have more out gay guys in our classes than we used to, but they don’t casually drop significant other names and stories in conversation, at least not around me like many of the women do.  Their orientation really only comes up when we’re directly discussing legislation that affects GLBT people, as something different, not as something that’s just like everybody else.  It’s still dangerous to be a gay guy in my state, especially with lawmakers against them.

I suspect that as more people don’t feel the need to hide, and as more people can easily be themselves, people’s “gaydar” will get worse because people are people and love is love (is love) and it’s hard to believe in stereotypes when you get to know a wide diversity of people.

But I dunno, maybe I’m just really bad at stalking people.

Help me with DC2’s lunch!

Yes, I know we’ve been making school lunches for one or the other of my kids for the past 9 years.  BUT we have some new challenges this year now that we’re at public elementary school.  Here are the rules for my kindergartener:

  1. No nuts or peanuts (new school is completely nut-free)
  2. No red dye (DC2 gets hives)
  3. No cheese (DC2 hates cheese)  (Also no tomatoes, same reason)
  4. Nothing “spicy” because DC2 has no tolerance for spice (which is bizarre because I lived on Indian food when I was pregnant with hir and everyone else in the family eats plenty of spice, AND so did zie… hir spice tolerance seems to be going down instead of up!).
  5. Things DC2 can open on hir own (this was the big new piece of information for us).  Note that DC2 cannot open any of the individually packaged apple sauces or fruit cups that we bought in great supply in the city the weekend before school started [update: we have successfully pierced foil covered applesauces with a plastic spoon.  Plastic topped and screw topped will have to wait for more hand and arm strength.].
  6. Nothing that needs refrigeration (I am regretting my decision not to purchase the fancy $23 lunchbag we saw at Whole Foods that has a spot for an icepack– I may end up trying to find one at Target, but for now, DC2 really loves hir lunch bag that looks just like DC1’s backpack but doesn’t have any insulation much less space for an ice pack)
  7. Something healthier than just jam sandwiches
  8. Things that take WAY the heck less time to put together at 10pm than what you get when you google “what do I send in my child’s school lunch” or any similar query.  Pinterest is not what we’re looking for.

I do not know if DC2 likes sunflower butter or not.  I will be getting some at the grocery store this weekend.  BUT, even when zie was allowed nut butter zie would only permit one almond butter and jam sandwich per week.  DC2 likes variety.  If I send, say, a mini-salad for too many days in a row, zie refuses salads for weeks.  Generally I can get away with things about once a week.  The one exception is fruit– so I will always be packing fruit, but zie can’t just have fruit.

Extra points for things that we can buy on Saturday but will still be in decent shape by Friday.

We have 3 different kinds of bento boxes (two of which fit in hir lunchbag, one that’s bigger), several small plastic containers, one insulated small metal thermos that sort of fits in the lunch bag (but can’t be heated up), one reusable sandwich bag, one reusable snack-size bag, and all shapes and sizes of ziplocs.  Also I could probably be easily convinced to buy more bento boxes because they’re clever and adorable.  (I also use them for my lunch when I’m not just taking a pyrex of leftovers to reheat.)

Last year, faced with the challenge of making hir own lunches in middle school, DC1 ended up getting hot lunch instead.  That coincided with DC1 getting to be obnoxiously picky about healthy food zie used to eat without complaint at home (something that has subsided a great deal this summer).   Zie has promised us zie won’t eat French fries every single day, although that seems to be an option at the middle school.  Some of the lunch options at the elementary school are healthy, but many are not.  I’m worried about DC2 making unhealthy choices through peer pressure.  If we get too overwhelmed with lunch making and DC2 agrees, we will load up hir lunch account too, but for now we’d like to keep sending healthy food.  If we can just figure out what.

What do your elementary schoolers take?  What did you take as an elementary schooler?  What do you suggest that fits the rules above?

Link Love

DC Judge approves government warrant seeking data from anti-Trump website because it helped facilitate planning of Inaguration Day protests.  *cough*fascists*cough*

Speaking of fascist states, Police unions and legislators are standing by laws that protect drivers who kill protesters

How close is your closest confederate memorial?

From February but clearly correct

Look at that weird gradient in California.

This is an excellent comment by Annalee

We can’t afford a house in Paradise.  :(

Financial milestones

I got a call from these scammers  (blocked)

Have you tried baking with ancient wheat?

peppermint stick pickles

bothers me that that isn’t the sagittal plane

someone save this poor kitty


Ask the grumpies: Favorite family rituals

Leah asks:

What is your favorite family ritual or holiday from growing up?  What is your favorite family ritual or holiday from now?

#1:  My favorite holiday ritual growing up was getting to open one present on Christmas Eve.  My kids don’t really care about presents as much as I did, so we don’t really have that.  I think now my favorite family ritual is still folding laundry together.  I don’t know why.

#2:  My favorite childhood holiday was Christmas. re: current rituals: we have a specific way of saying goodnight (that we don’t do in front of other people)

Handy-dandy list of cut-n-paste responses

Here, for my own use and possibly yours, is a collection of responses that I often make in internet conversations.  (I use “conversation” loosely here.)

Mix-n-match for your own purposes!

Duty calls:

I don’t know how to explain to you that you should care about other people:

I cannot believe…

cannot believe

Leopards are classic:

And, if all else fails:


Got any good ones to add, Grumpeteers?

Communal vs. individual school supplies

Update:  FDR quote from the FDR monument in Washington, DC (Thanks Leah!).  I found it as the last slide on Peter Diamond’s history of Social Security changes.

It seems like across much of the US, school supplies for elementary school have moved from being individual (you know, where I was the only kid whose mom followed instructions and bought the 12 pack of crayons instead of the 48 pack, and a couple of kids even got the 96 pack that had gold and silver and a built-in-sharpener) to communal, where the school list will, for example, request two 24 packs of crayons, crayola-only, to be collected and distributed across the classroom.   Back in my day only the Kleenex was communal.

This has caused some complaining across the personal finance blogosphere.  There’s a reluctance to subsidize children whose parents can’t or won’t buy school supplies for their own children.

I disagree with that sentiment.  I like having communal supplies because it makes it easier for kids who can’t afford school supplies. I do wish that we could what we did when we were living in a blue state and give money to the PTA to buy in bulk instead of buying new supplies individually. And I wish our current state was like the blue state we were in before and solicited donations so the school could own the calculators instead of the kids. I feel really bad for the kids whose parents can’t afford to buy calculators or rent instruments or go on field trips or get school supplies. (The district does have a pantry that accepts donations for kids who get free and reduced lunch, but it’s mostly clothing and hygiene supplies.)

It seems so much more humane to do it communally instead of individually.  Of course, it’s still not as humane as everyone’s tax money going to support future generations of Americans, but it’s much better than the idea that kids should be penalized for their parents being poor. Or that kids should have to rely on religious charity because people aren’t willing to give a little extra unless the “worthy poor” end up being indebted to a Christian organization for something that should be a right for all Americans.

Because funding to schools keeps getting cut in the interest of lower taxes, more and more of what used to be funded by schools is now funded by parents.  We’ve had to pay for orchestra music/instrument/uniforms and every field-trip and individual science experiments and many more things on top of more historically standard calls for empty toilet paper tubes and pot-luck dishes.  We’ve been doing directed donations for other kids each time we get one of these requests for our own kid, and there have been a lot of them, but we’ve generally had to take the initiative to ask about it ourselves (only the science teacher added donations for other kids to requests). And I just feel really bad for kids on the other end whose parents can’t or won’t provide for them who have to ask the teachers what to do when they don’t have the money. I remember just not going on field trips to ball games or amusement parks as a kid– not wanting my parents to have to worry about the money and not wanting to ask for charity (my parents would have died of embarrassment)– and that would be something like once every three years since all the local educational trips were covered. There’s so much less covered here.

In contrast, the year we were living in a blue state they flat out asked for a (recommended) largish donation at the beginning of the year from people who could afford it and some smaller amount for school supplies for people who didn’t want to shop on their own and that was it– and that money covered supplies, field trips, computers, calculators, and the arts program. There were also a limited number of free musical instruments that the school owned that anyone could rent if they jumped through a few hurdles, or the richer people could pay to rent through local music stores without jumping through hurdles. Kids didn’t have to feel bad for not having stuff because it was supplied for everyone.

Obviously that’s not possible in an impoverished district.  For those, federal or state funding is really needed to fill in those gaps.  But most of the commenters on these blog posts who are complaining about having to subsidize other people’s kids can afford to pick up more supplies than their individual kid will use at the back-to-school sale, and if they can’t, then someone else can pick one up on their child’s behalf.  And they’re not complaining about the expense so much as the unfairness of having to help a child that isn’t their own (though they don’t put it in those words… I think/hope if they did they might check themselves and not share that sentiment).  It sucks that parents have to buy basic supplies when children are America’s future taxpayers and we should all be subsidizing education through taxes, but failing that, this is one area where I don’t at all mind secular charity from those who can afford it.  Especially if it means some kid doesn’t have to constantly be reminded that they don’t have what everyone else has.  And you better believe we’ll be giving additional unrequested directed donations to our children’s schools this year, especially with DC1 in a 56% poverty elementary school.

And, as a reminder, Donorschoose is a fantastic charity that helps out kids and teachers in districts where having some parents buy a second set of school supplies isn’t possible or isn’t enough.

Link Love: A week has felt like a year ever since the 2016 election started getting heated up

and this week is no different.  Yes to all the comedians saying, “I’m old enough to remember when we were all just worried about nuclear war with North Korea.”

So as you can see in the bottom video link, for some reason I’ve had “John and Hank have got a purple tank” stuck in my head (possibly from watching some of the Indiana Jones clip that shows every fight with Nazis… I hate Nazis).   If you listen to that often enough and don’t click away, eventually youtube plays the most excellent John and Green We are All Bat People songify (which is how #1 discovered Vlogbrothers).  One of the lines that John says is, “Crime is not actually caused by evil.”  When this songify first came out, I agreed with him whole-heartedly.  Crime *is* caused by “systematic disenfranchisement and lack of opportunity” (and lead in the water, and so on).  But that’s only small crime.  The crime that superheroes only fight when they’re bored waiting for the movie or comic book to get underway.  The muggings and petty thievery.  Until this year, I believed that super-villains were overblown.  I was wrong.  I was very wrong.  Steve Bannon isn’t disenfranchised.  He doesn’t lack opportunity.  He is just full-stop evil.  A super-villain.  Whoever is writing these anti-Trans laws and funding politicians to bully Trans people; that person is evil and powerful.  Nazis in their crisp white Trump polos and khakis– they’re not lacking opportunity.  This isn’t economic anxiety.  They’re not just misguided.  Comic books and other fantastic novels have been warning us about this kind of evil for ages.  Not all villains are complicated.  Not all villains are well-meaning but misguided.  The kind of bully Trump is is an ageless one.  Literature and history have been warning us, but because we lived in a society where their voices were dulled and Hitler was a long-dead memory (and other genocidal leaders geographically so far away), we scoffed at them as unrealistic.

So what can you do?  I’m still following actions for americans and 5calls for action items.  Even if I don’t say it here, I still make calls every week, and boy do those $25 donations to various groups and candidates sure add up.  DH is still going to local indivisible meetings (he’s now the treasurer) and democratic party meetings and the occasional protest or rally.  Voter enfranchisement is an incredibly important issue right now– DH is a voter registrar and I’ll be attending the local indivisible become a voter registrar workshop in September.  There are a lot of ways to get active and to fight hate and to bring our country back on the path bending towards justice.  (As always, please leave suggestions in the comments!)

A chilling report from a synagogue in Charlottesville

Fox News, Daily Caller delete posts encouraging people to drive through protests  Here are the states that have introduced legislation to make it legal to hit protesters with cars  If you live in one– call up your state legislators and tell them WTF

Hate that doesn’t hide.

An excellent rant by FrugalToque

Turns out fascists didn’t actually get the trains to run on time.  That was just propaganda!

Godwin provides an important corollary to his law

One way to confront racists

Here’s another

And if you’re more into cream pies than punches or conversation, here’s another.

A debunking handbook


AP provides standards on how to talk about racists (and other bigots)

Which is the more dangerous kind of nazi?

Anti-nazi comics

Unfortunately the short documentary video clip of Sir Nicholas George Winton who organized the rescue of 669 children, mostly Jewish from the Nazis got taken down (the company gave permission, but twitter is being slow to release it).  There’s a longer version on youtube that is less dramatic.  Watch it.  You need to watch it.  Have lots of kleenex handy.  Then hug your loved ones close to you.  (I’ve also put a shorter youtube clip down below.)

Go Illinois!

GOP senator Corker accuses mom who paid $40 to meet with him because she was worried about her kids’ insurance of being a paid fake activist.

Oregon makes abortion accessible to all women

Texas Women now have to pay for rape insurance (also insurance to cover ectopic pregnancies as the amendment about saving the life of the mother did not make it into the bill)

More research showing that refugees have zero effect on native outcomes

This is pretty good

#Notallstatues are bad:  The English Pug and the French Poodle

I also have this question

dog poop paper vs. plastic

A book definitely makes a guy more attractive.  More hot guys.

I would totally buy this if DH’s old t-shirts weren’t so comfy

Jeans through the ages

How songs get stuck in my head

Ask the grumpies: Which fictional figure would you meet?

Leah asks:

if you could meet any fictional figure, who and why?

#1:  I want to meet one of those brilliant super-heroes who always manages to do something brilliant to save the day.  Like Jeeves but on a bigger scale.  Like the top bureaucrat from Yes Minister.  Or Kyoya from Ouren High school Host Club.  Or the team from Leverage.  I want him or her or them to tell me how to fix the problem our country is currently in with a brilliant plan for which he or she has forseen all possible complications that I can implement.  So that the day can be saved.

#2:  I really want to meet scifi animals.  There’s a species of treecats in the Honor Harrington Universe, and a species called norbears in the Liaden books.  Both species are sentient but lack a shared language with humans…. both seem super cute


  • I knew John Green had terrible taste in literature (as evidenced by his deep abiding love for the required HS whiny privileged male protagonist canon), but I didn’t realize it wasn’t just that he liked terrible books in addition to good books.  He has read one Terry Pratchett.  (A Discworld too, and not one of Pratchett’s early meh children’s books.)  I can’t even.  How is that even possible?  None, All, or “I’m in the middle of the series” all make sense, but one is beyond the bounds of belief.
  • I guess I like some of the “privileged people create their own problems” literature, but generally the ones I read allow the reader in on the joke.  Like if Gatsby had Jeeves working for him.  Emma is a warning about what happens when an intelligent woman has too much time on her hands, not whatever deep lessons it is that people get from Holden Caulfield’s incessant whining.  Though I guess they both would have been better off with meaningful occupation.  We chuckle at Emma but nobody identifies with her.  Maybe because of male privilege– men want to identify with privileged losers but that’s a luxury women don’t have.  To get as whiny and indolent as Holden Caulfield as a woman, you end up being a side character put in the story merely for comic relief.
  • Note to self:  If I ever become a YA writer, try writing a story where Caulfield is a minor character played for laughs from the perspective of a female protagonist.
  • I am glad that if I wrote an “unvarnished truth” style memoir, it would be pretty boring.  Or, as our tag says, “probably boring if you’re not us
  • It is annoying that some of the jargon in my field is non-pc.  I am currently going through a paper doing a find/replace to change all the bad jargon into less obnoxious words.  I know I could probably get this published with the jargon still in place, but non-pc terms can hurt marginalized people and we don’t have to do that.  Still, because it is the jargon in my field, my early drafts always use the shorthand.  Just 42 instances more to go…
  • The times in my life when I’ve been least happy have been times when I have had less agency and the times when I’ve been most happy, I’ve been the one deciding what to do with my life.  I suspect this is healthy.
  • I keep getting upper respiratory infections. (I suspect this is not  healthy.) I do not like it.
  • It feels amazing to not be sick after being sick.
  • It is amazing to have DH back after him being gone for over a week.
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DH’s company is back in business

But it will be a while before he gets paid…

As regular readers know, the company for which DH telecommutes has been having cash flow problems and they had to shut down for a couple of months.  They were supposed to get back to work in July, but the contract that was supposed to put them back in business for the next 2 years (give or take) kept not getting signed.  Finally it did get signed!

DH and I were able to save up enough to not worry about his lost income and DH’s direct boss is in a similar situation.  It’s been a bit tougher for a couple of the other employees, but it seems like they’ve stuck around.  Anybody who was going to leave left when the company started showing signs of trouble.

Sadly, even though the grant has been signed, it’s going to take 20 days from the first pay request for the grant to start paying out, so that will mean a month and a half without pay even after people have started back to work.  Again, not a huge problem for us since we saved for this, but I feel bad for a few of DH’s colleagues.

Also, annoyingly, they’re keeping the 10% paycuts for now (and any retirement matching) which is irritating, but I don’t think we’ll complain about it until things settle down a bit and the boss is able to pay back some of the debt he’s taken on keeping the company’s health insurance paid.

So what does that mean for us financially?  Well, we’ll be back to being upper-middle class again, but I’m not sure that I’ll feel quite so much like throwing money around like water.  So we probably won’t redo the kitchen and we’ll probably stick with a Prius or something when my car finally bites the dust.  And I won’t be signing up for silly overpriced subscription services (#notallsubscriptionservices) even if they look fun and so on.  I think some of the worry about our income will be sticking.  Though it took a while to start feeling free with money the first time around too.  We will still continue to give money to charity and politics at higher levels.

I think I will probably start putting more money away in stocks so it’s out of sight, even though I don’t know when the market is going to crash.  Or I might keep it in cash in case we need to flee to Canada.  I don’t know.  It really sucks to live in interesting times.  But it’s nice worrying about what to do with extra money.  And we’ll have quite a bit of time to decide– I don’t get paid until October so we’re still spending down our savings and if and when DH’s paycheck starts up it will only be covering expenses.

I definitely see an allure of being truly financially free– instead of thinking, well DH can just not work for 3 years and we won’t be putting a crimp in our lifestyle, how nice would it be to say he never has to find a job unless he wants to?  Don’t get me wrong, he likes work, but it would also be nice to have more options.  Or if we could afford to move to Paradise without anything lined up if we got too fed up with our state government.  But again, even at an upper-middle-class salary, it would take a long time to build up that kind of savings.  So are they worth sacrificing for now?  Probably not.  But I could do a better job of feeling artificial scarcity so our lifestyle doesn’t inflate too much.  Or maybe I should just embrace the benefits that having so much income brings.

In any case, this is something I can worry about after school starts.  Until then, I’ll be spending down our savings account on things like daycare (technically we just gave them the last check), insurance, and groceries.  Mark in your calendars that our money posts will probably start getting obnoxious again sometime in November.  ;)