In which #1 rants about Pinterest English assignments

@#$@#$#@

After increasingly stupid “book report” assignments for DC1’s monthly novel, including things like having to make 15 “matchbooks”, illustrating the outsides of each, and putting in a summary (not chapter summaries, but 15 summaries no matter how many chapters there are in the book) into each “matchbook”, DC1 and I were joking about what kind of ridiculous assignment the next one would be.  Hir teacher surpassed our wildest expectations (though, to be fair, the accompanying and unexpected “non-fiction” book report project included a few of our guesses, like making a rap song).

DC1 has been assigned a “t-shirt” book report project.  What is a t-shirt book report project?  Well, it’s something the student is supposed to design, but the parent is supposed to help with.  It’s supposed to be wearable art that your student will LOVE LOVE LOVE making and wearing.  It is definitely all over @#$ing pinterest.  It’s even one of the “11 best creative book report projects”.

The front of the shirt is supposed to be a hand drawn/ironed on/glued/painted copy of the cover or what you believe the copy should be.  The left sleeve is a picture of the main character.  The right sleeve has the “setting and the problem” including a picture of the setting.  The back somehow fits words and graphics of the student’s favorite scene as well as a summary of the book and the student’s opinion of the book.  Not sure how all of that is going to squish into a size 8/10 shirt, but maybe DC1 will write small.

UGH.

So maybe I have no joy in my life.  But!

1.  We had to immediately change books because there is no way DC1’s art abilities could do justice to Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry.  After strongly considering Flatland but rejecting it for the misogyny, we settled on Fahrenheit 451 even though DC1 will be reading it again junior year of high school.

2.  The fricking assignment says that parents are supposed to do most of the art work except for doing the design itself(!)  DC1 is a better artist than either DH or I, and that is not saying anything at all.  Us helping is not going to make this @#$3 shirt look anything like the etsy-level ones shown in the pictures that the teacher sent home with the assignment [update:  these pictures aren’t even from her former students, they’re from the internets, taken without attribution] .  I don’t mind spending time helping with DC1’s math homework if zie needs it, or if zie ever wrote an essay for school I’d be happy to proofread it, but doing arts and crafts for my kid is a huge waste of my time.  (So I’m not going to– not that the teacher would be able to tell if I’d done it– my t-shirt art ability is pretty much frozen back to 1989.)  (Have I mentioned that DH and I suck at crafts?  Yes?  Multiple times?  That’s because it’s true.)

3.  WTF.  Student has to buy clothing and things to decorate the shirt with for a shirt that zie will not be caught dead with in public?  Seriously?  I doubt that Pinterest surveyed any students when it claims that the students will love creating and wearing these shirts.  Maybe 3rd graders would.  But not 7th graders.  And, as always, what about the kids for whom just going out and buying stuff has a measurable effect on the family finances?

4.  All of the assignments so far have involved spending a huge amount of time cramming text into bizarrely shaped spaces.  At least with the matchbook project DC1 got permission to type things out and paste them in, which cut down on the hassle considerably, but this t-shirt thing doesn’t have that option.  And it’s not like mistakes can be bleached out.  Writing on cloth is not fun!  Writing paragraphs on cloth is even less fun!  And I just don’t think the time spent on this is generating any useful skills.  (What about iron-ons, you ask?  Well, if we could get that to work with the printer, chances are that’s still not going to work with the amount of text needed, plus we don’t have an ironing board, though oddly, we do have an iron.)

(Speaking of no joy in my life:  Our new dean has decided that we must all wear ugly sweaters and participate in an ugly sweater contest for the annual holiday brunch.  I used to like the holiday brunch, but this year it’s getting a big side order of NOPE.)

DC1 hasn’t had a friend over or played a computer game in weeks because every moment of his non-school time has been spent making movie posters and matchbooks and crossword puzzles and on and on and on.  Not on reading books and writing essays about them, but on crafting cutesy projects.  It would be one thing if zie were learning art skills from these craft projects, but zie isn’t.  There’s no formal art instruction, just time consuming hassle.

And it’s not just DC1’s teacher. ALL of the English teachers across the entire grade are giving these stupid assignments in advanced English and regular English. So we can’t escape by switching teachers at the semester. At least 8th grade looks like the assignments are more of the “learn how to write” variety.

How do you feel about middle-school Pinterest projects?  What do you think she’s going to have in store for DC1 next month?

Advertisements

Stuff we’ve really enjoyed having this year

(besides books, though KJ Charles rocks!)

I love this teapot I got for my Birthday last year.  It is so easy to use and to clean, and it makes the right amount of tea for when you want, you know, a pot instead of just a mug.

Although you should probably not gift this to anyone, this home laser hair removal thing  has been fantastic.  I barely need to pluck my chin anymore at all (with the exception of a few white hairs that laser won’t get) and it’s been a few weeks since I’ve done even a touch-up with the laser.

I still really like my moleskin weekly planner, even though everyone else has switched to Google Calendar.

This Solo travel bag I got myself has been perfect for overnight travel without having to take a roller-bag.  For those who cannot part with the roller-bag, one of my colleagues swears by these packing cubes and will be getting them for almost everyone on her list this year.

This amazing lamp was everything I wanted and more!

DH loves this little pocket pen.  It is pretty clever.

Our in-laws love this ice cream scoop we got them, although it is not dishwasher safe.

#2 enjoys watching her DH play the latest Assassin’s Creed game.

Here’s a previous post on little things that just work.  I still get a lot of pleasure from using a high quality pencil sharpener.

What stuff has been “sparking joy” for you over the past year?

Whoops, someone forgot to do link love

This is getting to be a Saturday afternoon feature, eh?

What is net neutrality?  Here’s a primer from Planting Our Pennies.  What’s going on with net neutrality right now is pretty scary.  For example, a bot stole this woman’s name and true email address and left a comment about net neutrality.  Here’s the FCC commissioner asking for help.

US is one of three officially pro-Nazi countries, based on a vote at the UN.

The Republican case for Doug Jones.

The impossible and anti-victim process of reporting sexual harassment as a congressional staffer.  Hint:  nothing happens except that they legally shut your mouth.

Shakespeare talks about sexual harassment.

Trump Census pick is pro-gerrymandering.

How mom and dad money chose health insurance this year.

If you know a blind child learning braille, this resource is pretty amazing.  They even have board books.

Some of these books look horrible, but I’ve heard that a few of them are very good indeed. This group looks pretty good too.

Carrying 10K across the border.

Why are all the planets in the same plane?  (Pluto isn’t!)

Curious Zelda

Ask the grumpies: Favorite memes?

Leah asks:

what are some of your favorite memes? I’m personally a fan of ceiling cat and science nerd jokes, like https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B1SLNMiCQAAzc3s.jpg

I do like ceiling cat. hm. It’s hard to come up with something on the spur of the moment.

What are your favorite memes, Grumpy Nation?

This Thanksgiving: Remind people about ACA sign-ups!

If you’re out and about with people you don’t normally see, Thanksgiving is a great time to remind people about Affordable Care Act sign-ups!  (And maybe explain that the silver plan prices are going way up but the bronze and gold plan prices aren’t.)

And hey, if you’re going to be talking about politics, it might be a good time to gently nudge people to do a little bit of activism.  There’s a lot of things to call about.  If your friends and family care about something specific but don’t know what to do, 5Calls probably has a script for it!  If they feel like their Democratic party isn’t helping but they want a group to join, hook them up with Indivisible.   If they want a place to target their money for the 2018 election, tell them about SwingLeft.  If they’d like a list of weekly suggestions, there’s a bunch of choices, like Jennifer Hoffman’s checklist , Wall of Us, or Actions for Americans.

For those of you stuck doing Thanksgiving with neonazis and other bigots because of “family obligations”, you have our sympathy.

In other news, #1’s family has decided on a boring traditional Thanksgiving this year.  Last year we got catering complete with fancy takes on each part of the meal (but the friends we had over have to visit their family this year for various family drama reasons).  The year before we did a vegetarian Thanksgiving with vegetarian friends.  The year before that was duck!  So we’re due for simple again.

Turkey
Cornbread stuffing
Green bean casserole (it was going to be green bean almondine which is super easy to make, but DC2 expressed a preference for creamy sauce)
rolls
sweet potato casserole (my sister is going to make a savory version)
cranberry sauce (my sister has volunteered for this one as well)
apple pie
pumpkin pie
vanilla ice cream

My sister has also decided she wants to bring Brussels sprouts which she and DH can enjoy, DC1 and I can avoid, and DC2 can try to see if zie likes it. We still have some in the freezer from the catering last Thanksgiving…  (Yuck.)

What are your plans?

Switching away from Roth to Traditional retirement savings as a form of protest– even if it is suboptimal monetarily

The general conventional wisdom is that if you think you’ll be in a higher tax bracket now than at retirement, you should put tax-advantaged retirement (IRA/401(k)/403b/457b etc.) money in traditional retirement savings rather than in Roth savings.  That means you don’t pay taxes now, but you pay taxes later.  If you think you’ll be in a lower tax bracket at retirement, you should put your retirement money in Roth because you pay the taxes now, but will not have to pay taxes on the earnings later.

I have assumed that while our income will likely be lower in retirement, our tax brackets have a very good chance of being higher because they’ve been at historical lows and because we didn’t fix Social Security and Medicare when we had the chance, most likely we’ll be paying for big chunks of those out of general revenue (indeed, that’s the argument the last trustee of SS [Trump has not appointed any trustees, which is bad] made at a very depressing talk he gave recently).  So that would imply that for optimizing our wealth, we should do Roths now and pay the taxes now and live large on tax-free earnings later.  Of course, I’m not 100% sure that that’s going to happen or even that the US government will keep its promises about the tax-free status of the Roth vehicle.

So what I’ve been doing, as I tend to do when I have no idea what to do, is I’ve been using a 1/n heuristic.  Half my retirement money goes in traditional.  Half my retirement money goes in Roth.

If the Republicans pass their tax plan, chances are it will make even more monetary sense for me to put money in Roths– pay those taxes now because there’s no point trying to get my AGI down.

And yet… the Republicans are going to dig a huge hole in the national debt with their “no taxing rich people/no spending on investing in our future/spend a lot on the already rich and powerful” plans.  The US government is going to need my money more later when good people are in charge and the Republicans will have to face what they’ve done to the US sooner if they get less tax money now.  So I’m feeling like it will be patriotic to squeeze them now and pay more in taxes several decades down the line.  Even if that means that we end up with a smaller net worth when we die.

So… even though it’s a bit of paperwork for me… I think I’m going to change over all of my retirement savings to traditional.  Because the US government will need that tax money later.  I know it’s only a drop in the bucket for the US, especially given that they want to increase the deficit by well over 1.5 trillion this year alone, but I do what I can.

Of course, Republicans could mandate that all preferred retirement savings be in the form of Roth so they get taxed now instead of later.  And it sounds pretty likely that they’re going to make it so government employees can’t take advantage of both the 403(b) and the 457, which will cut my optional retirement saving in half.  That’s a way to punish high earning government employees (particularly those who don’t get much in the way of direct employer contributions) and a way to get good people to not want to work for the government (so either salaries would have to increase or other benefits would increase).  But I suspect these politicians don’t want competent people working as civil servants.  And they want to punish state and local employees, because why not.

How do you decide between Traditional and Roth options?

Dingoes Ate My Link Love

What even, you folks.  I think my ancient laptop might finally be giving up the ghost.  Anyway…

Maybe I can format these on my other computer!
 
https://food52.com/blog/17278-how-to-make-fruit-flavored-whipped-cream-white-chocolate-more

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-the-house-gop-tax-plan-soaks-university-employees_us_5a07836ee4b0e37d2f37d1bb?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

http://mymoneywizard.com/how-much-does-it-cost-to-adopt-a-dog/

https://www.buzzfeed.com/adambvary/doug-jones-star-trek-discovery-the-shape-of-water?utm_term=.gwRGQV6Y5k#.jqa053Pdrj

Some of these are NOT actually lies: … https://bookriot.com/2015/12/14/101-lies-to-tell-so-you-can-stay-home-and-read/

Looking for a gift? https://emilymcdowell.com/collections/gifts-for-friends-that-always-have-your-back-text-you-back/products/patriarchy-refill-mug
(coffee is life)

my favorite meme: https://www.flickr.com/photos/chazsoccer/2281245140

Fambly:
http://agaishanlife.com/2017/11/how-and-why-im-cutting-off-my-father/
https://awindycitygal.wordpress.com/2017/11/13/my-toddler-brain/

https://huffpost.com/us/entry/us_5a0b4c88e4b0bc648a0e6dcd?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/11/20/why-ageism-never-gets-old/amp

https://amp.thedailybeast.com/troll-smearing-roy-moores-accuser-stole-dead-seals-identity

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-echochambers-27074746
https://psmag.com/social-justice/gop-using-down-syndrome-as-cynical-wedge

http://www.jgme.org/doi/abs/10.4300/JGME-D-17-00126.1?code=gmed-site

http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/16/us/keystone-pipeline-leak/index.html?adkey=bn

https://amp.usatoday.com/story/848354001/

Cute adorbz animals:
https://www.boredpanda.com/cute-hedgehogs/
https://www.buzzfeed.com/summeranne/things-we-learned-at-the-hedgehog-convention

https://www.buzzfeed.com/hilarywardle/highland-cows-are-just-adorable-big-floofy-dogs