Ask the grumpies: what’s your computer setup like?

Leah asks:

Mouse or trackpad? Laptop or desktop?

#1:  Mouse, desktop.  I have a laptop but I mostly only use it for meetings that require I have computer access, which is pretty rare.  When I was on leave it was my main computer at work, but I had it hooked up to two big monitors.  I guess I do have a fancy mouse at home (Evoluent Vertical Mouse 3– not sponsored) to help combat RSI, though the only thing special about my work mouse is that it has a cord.  I carry a mouse with my laptop as well because it’s so much less of a hassle than the trackpad or nub.

#2:  laptop at home, desktop at work. Nothing fancy or special.

Creative Sushi at home that works

DC1 got a sushi kit for Christmas one year [this post was started years ago!].  We have used it pretty frequently since.

In addition to standard simple (cooked) sushi using cucumbers or avocado or shrimp etc. we’ve tried some less typical combinations that have worked well.

Chicken salad with sliced or diced apple– this is my favorite

Pepperoni, cream cheese, shrimp, and peas — also good without the shrimp

Refried beans, mango chutney, cream cheese, sliced steak– the chutney really ties everything together.

Strawberries and cream cheese or mascarpone– probably good with other fruit (we’ve had mango at restaurants!)

Here’s the internet with more suggestions.

Do you have suggestions for things we should try rolling up with rice and seaweed?

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  • Did I mention that one of my colleagues bought the house next to hers and uses it as a meeting space and office?
  • Near her houses there’s a street with a huge dip in it.  I took it at like 5 mph and still managed to scrape the bottom of my car, which turned out to be too much for my poor abused under cover which decided to finally separate from the car and drag on the road on my way home that day after a much smaller bump.  We ordered a new one along with the assembly package and put it in, $43.55, but it took a week to get the parts.
  • One of my other colleagues said that if I can’t decide what kind of car to get then maybe I should just go with the cheapest.  Which makes a lot of sense.  Another colleague impressed upon me the importance of safety ratings (her Prius got totaled last month).  And I’m really big on reliability these days.  So that leads me to the Honda Fit (slightly safer, slightly more expensive) vs. the Hyundai Accent (more reliable, worse mileage).  I may test-drive them!  Though while I’m there I might also try the Ioniq.  Update:  Tried to go to the Hyundai dealership to test-drive an accent and he JUST WANTED TO TALK, so we left when it became clear he wouldn’t let us test drive one without him doing his sales pitch and finding out about our lives first.  On the way home we stopped at the Honda place and quickly test-drove a Fit (from a very non-pushy salesperson which may be why we’ve bought two cars from this place), which… is not 14 years nicer than my current accent.  So I tried a low model Civic and liked it.  The Civic has better mileage than the Accent but is about 10 inches longer and has worse reliability.   The problem with DH having a Clarity is that I have discovered that I kind of like nice things.  So just being better than my 2005 Accent may not cut it.  Do I want to go with being spoiled or do I want to fight it?  ARGH.  I don’t know what to do!  And I hate pushy salespeople.
  • I think I have plantar fasciitis in my right foot.  I wish I trusted doctors around here more.  My GP is great for OB/GYN stuff but not so good at anything else (generally her answer to anything non-reproductive-system-related is: it will go away on its own and if it doesn’t then put lotion on it).
  • Now my car shuts off the pump right away instead of letting me pump gas.  I just barely got the new drip pad put back on!  Hadn’t even gotten gas since it happened.  That means that either something needs to be cleaned (for the cost of compressed air, which DH already has, but DH decided there were too many cables to try this on his own) or something needs to be replaced (which could cost as much as $600, though probably will be more like $300).   Part of me wants to just exchange it now, but one of my (not t-t) colleagues wants to buy it as a backup car for when his elderly truck is in the shop, which means it should be in working condition even if I give it to him super cheap (probably for $300….).  Deciding things is hard.
  • According to the hospital billing, they will send us a bill after DH’s health insurance sends them the remaining $2K for the second emergency room trip.  So the most that we could still be billed would be $2K.  So the costs for DH’s four rabies shots to us are:  $250 (first emergency room visit), $250 (second emergency room visit), $350 (first Walgreens shot), $350 (second Walgreens shot).  So… going to the emergency room for the third and fourth shots would have saved us $200, but cost his health insurance company quite a bit (I have no regrets– Walgreens seems so much more efficient).  Unless we get that bill for $2000, that means the total cost of his rabies shots is $1200 that has already been paid, so it won’t be dipping into my car fund.  (Still, I’m kind of used to the idea of getting a cheaper rather than more expensive car.)  DH’s elite coastal health insurance is so much better than my Southern university plan (with its 20% copay…).  It also has a better bargain with our hospital– they got the cost per ER visit down to 7K instead of 10K, which seems odd to me since you’d think my plan would have more bargaining power being the one everyone at the university has, but maybe the power goes both ways.  We’re thinking that when he called about whether or not they cover the rabies shot, the person on the phone must have looked at whether they cover the pre-travel rabies shot rather than the post-bite rabies shot?

Link love

1700 additional separated migrant children identified.  1,700.  (Here’s a related action item for this and the next link)

After feeding a Muslim man nothing but pork sandwiches for days, they are deporting him because even though he had all his paperwork in order and is married to a US citizen, just being picked up inappropriately by ICE gets you sent back now.

Why advocating for the unborn is convenient. (This is almost a poem)  (related action item)

How to prevent abortion

Regulating what we don’t understand.

Donald Trump is considering pardoning a serial killer who not only personally killed unarmed civilians (including one who was being treated for wounds), he threatened to take out the military who reported him.

I really need to request that my department never order Chick-fil-A

Trump and Kushner probably used DeutscheBank for money laundering. (The employee who flagged them got fired.)

Why it is dangerous for Barry Myers to be head of the national weather service.  (Here’s an action item to go with it.)


OH NO The Squirrel Girl comic is ending.  Booooo.

So… for an economist, this study seems like it’s from the Annals of No Duh in the Any Econ 101 student could tell you this, but apparently someone did a study?

Apparently not

How to lie with personal finance.


Ask the grumpies: What to do when you suspect students cheating off each other?

Lecturer asks:

I give a take-home exam every semester and this year it was clear that two students had the same bizarre wrong answers.  So I gave them both zeroes for the final (25% of their grade) which earned one of them a D for the class and the other an F.  Now the student with a D is protesting his grade and has filed paperwork to drop out of the program because he says that he did not cheat on the exam and thinks the other student copied him without his knowledge since he turned his exam in early to my mailbox.  What should I have done instead?

Cheating is the worst!  We at ask the grumpies have had to deal with so many instances.  And sometimes it really is just that one person copied off the other without the first kid’s knowledge.  (#1 had a student turn in his roommate in his first year because he was planning to go back to his home country as a government official and could not have any stains on his record– he is now an ambassador!)

So… what we do is generally the following:  As soon as the cheating is detected, make xeroxes of the offending documents.  Then talk to your chair to either inform them of what you are going to do or ask for advice about what to do.  Then email both students separately and ask them to come in to talk with you ASAP.  If you are a junior professor or lecturer or adjunct, you may want to ask for a more senior professor to sit in the room with you– I found that helpful when I was in my 20s but no longer need it now.  When the student comes in, just show them the documents and ask what happened.  Why are they so similar?  A surprising number of students will just admit to you that they copied from each other at that point.  In one case I had a student (different one from the future ambassador), after some confusion, narrow his eyes and say he bet he knew what happened and that he was planning on having words with his housemate (who must have copied his problem set when he left it out).  Said housemate was extremely apologetic and corroborated that theory and took full responsibility and the group of guys living in the house teased him about it for the rest of the semester (and started coming to office hours and learning the material).

I’d say in over 80% of the the cases one or both students admits responsibility and takes the punishment.  In the cases in which they don’t, I then go to my chair and ask for advice– I have had supportive chairs who I can trust on these matters.  #2, before she left academia, did not and in her last year got overruled by a chair on an obvious cheating case in which the students confessed and is so glad to be out of that [excrement]-hole. (#1 again) In one case in which the student did not admit wrong-doing, it turned out that my chair knew she had also been caught cheating in another class, so we pursued that (she decided not to take it to the honors counsel and eventually left our program).  In another case, the plagiarism from the wikipedia page was blatantly obvious so we pursued that one as well– he appealed to the honors counsel and we went through the full proceedings and they were not happy with him in the least.  For weaker cases in which they don’t admit responsibility we’ve just continued to monitor the situation and future assignments– usually they’re scared to try anything further at that point.  I haven’t had any weak final exam cases, only problem sets.

Once you find plagiarism and decide on a punishment, it is very important to see what your university rules are about reporting it.  Our university requires professors to notify the university so that they can put the incident on the student’s internal record.  If they get a certain number of reports of cheating (I think 3, but it might be more) then they are subject to a suspension or expulsion depending on the severity of the complaints.  One of my favorite things about our honors system is that you can force students to take a semester-long hour per week seminar on how not to cheat which I think is a fantastic punishment, especially for our students who plead that they didn’t know it was wrong to plagiarize.

Additionally, if you are going to have take-home exams, it is always good to do a few things to make it more difficult to cheat.  That includes doing things like telling them to put the exam in a sealed envelope if they turn it into your box (if you have an office you can also allow them to put it under your door).  I also like to have problems that include choice, like everyone chooses a dependent variable from a list of 50 dependent variables.  That makes things harder to grade but also more interesting to grade and even if they cheat they can’t just copy each other directly (or if they do, then it’s even more obvious that they copied), they have to learn a little bit.

Good luck and I hope you don’t have to deal with this much in the future!  It’s never fun.

Academic grumpeteers, how do you deal with student cheating problems?

What are we reading: Summer reading time!

Atomic Habits.  About changing habits.  It was ok, nothing really new, but pretty good.  Maybe I’ll re-read it at some point.

A Quiet Life in the Country, by T. E. Kinsey.  It’s the frothiest of English country-house murder mysteries, featuring a sassy rich titled widow and her even sassier lady’s maid.  They both have hidden depths and are very good friends.  They fight crime!  #2 also really enjoys these (and has purchased and read 4 of them in the past two weeks!).  But note– if you’re the type of person who wants to be able to figure out who done it using carefully hidden clues, this is not your series.  It is more Ngaio Marsh (giving you the necessary info near the end) than Agatha Christie.

The City in the Middle of the Night, by Charlie Jane Anders: Very good!  Highly recommended.  Found family; mostly female characters; convincing bad guy; excellent world-building.  This is for you if you like Dune, or if you want to like Dune but can’t get through Herbert’s writing style.

The Shadow Glass by Rin Chupeco.  This is the third book in a trilogy I’ve been reading from the library and I want to like it… but it has too many italics.  Hard to get through.

#1 also attests:  Before you read Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure, make sure you have plenty of bread and the meltable cheese of your choice.  #2 had to stop reading it in the middle because she was on a plane and could do nothing about the craving.

A wicked kind of husband by Mia Vincy wasn’t bad (despite the hero being kind of a jerk and the heroine being an unappreciated doormat).  If there were more books available I would probably read them, but I’m not going to great lengths to remember the author.

City of Lies by Victoria Thompson was a fun PG 13 con book.  It read more like a YA historical novel than a romance or mystery, but I am eager to get the next book from the library.

Talia Hibbert continues to make me sloppy cry on airplanes with her Damaged Goods novella (tw: rape as a back story, though not shown graphically) (Well worth the 99 cents it cost!)

I deleted: A Night of Angels:  A Magical Holiday Collection.  Most of the novellas were pretty awful.  Never Dare a Duke by Meara Platt was not great– I am not crazy about engaged people who entered into the engagement of their own free wills cheating on each other instead of having a conversation to break it off (not a spoiler if you read the about, which I apparently did not prior to putting the book on my amazon wishlist).  The Duke’s Hidden Desire by Gemma Blackwood was well-written but I’m so tired of the brooding jerky hero and the perfect heroine.  Perfect heroines deserve perfect heroes!  Grumpy Fake Boyfriend by Jackie Lau was ok for a read but not rereading.  I did not finish A Fallen Lady by Elizabeth Kingston– stick to checking out the next book in the series from the library.  It is much healthier.

I am not sure how many older Jayne Ann Krentzes the local library has that I haven’t read.  I’ve been cranking through them pretty thoroughly.  One of these days I will have to look at their website and possibly put things on hold.

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Getting rid of the ice maker and replacing it with a new cabinet: Step 1 (after initial payment) of the kitchen process

It’s been a long time since we decided to pull the trigger on updating our kitchen.  Much and not much at all has happened since then.  Much in terms of spending money and having lengthy email conversations with a home depot “designer”, but not much in terms of oh, anything actually getting done.

So, step 1 was to get an initial measurement, pick out a countertop, and lock in a price, which we did.  We chose from among many marblish looking quartz options, going with white arabesque, bullnose, 4cm, in the end.  That was the end of January/beginning of February.

Then we were told to purchase all of our appliances.  We did that too.  We got a metal sink with a fancy faucet and a new garbage disposal.  We went with a gas stovetop.  They’ve been sitting in our dining room in slightly open boxes since mid-February.

Then we had several months of back and forth with a really annoying emails with a home designer who would not listen to us and didn’t believe what the initial templaters had told us that we would be able to keep our fancy glass cabinet or that we wanted to replace the ice maker with shelves and not drawers.  He was either trying to upsell us or he was just incapable of communication (a white dude with an American accent, in case you’re wondering).  But we needed to get rid of the ice maker and replace it with a cabinet before we could set up measurement (templating) for the countertop and appliances to be put in.  (Why don’t we want an ice maker?  Mainly because it takes more electricity than the rest of our appliances combined.  But also because we’re not huge on entertaining like the former owners of our house were.)

See the ancient electricity sucking ice-maker?

Once we realized that Home Depot couldn’t handle custom cabinets, we called the place that originally put in our cabinets back in the 1990s (the previous owners kept good notes), but they of course no longer carried that model.  But they recommended a local custom guy who could copy the design and get us a cabinet any size we wanted.  This process took several weeks of back and forth communication as the cabinet store had to check on things and was only open 10-4 on weekdays.  Once we got the contact info of the cabinet guy, it moved much faster.  Though first DH pulled out the ice maker and realized we’d need to plug off the water tube to it and he didn’t want to do it himself.  The plumber came over right away and charged their regular fee plus a few dollars for parts and (this is important) TOOK AWAY THE ICE MAKER (yay!!!!!!!!!!).


Look! Shelves are possible!

The custom cabinet guy came and put in the new cabinet and moved around the door on the cabinet that hides the garbage pully-out thing that we never use because I think cabinets full of garbage get disgusting too easily and are hard to clean.  And I came home and saw this and freaked out.

That blue piece of painters tape is DH figuring out measurements to see if it's possible to replace the garbage can cabinet with a standard-size cabinet-- it wasn't.

This is the uncanny valley of cabinets. Just looking at it makes me feel creepy (and no, it isn’t the lack of paint).

See, all the other double cabinets in the kitchen (and there are several of them) face each other like these are facing each other, but they are the Same Size.  I had a small meltdown texting one of my friends while I waited for DH to come home.  Turns out DH and I had a miscommunication– he had asked me if I wanted this cabinet to be a standard size or if I wanted it to match the size of the smaller cabinet and I had not realized that was what he was asking.  After a lengthy problem-solving session (in which we strongly considered paying the cabinet guy to come out again to redo the entire thing) I realized that we could make this problem go away if it was more different.  Because the problem with the uncanny valley is when things are just a little off.  If they’re a lot off then you can mentally tell yourself it’s meant to be that way.

That turned out to be an easy fix.  We put the other cabinet back the way it was before and filled in the new hole and painted over it.

This doesn’t bother me at all! The doors are different sizes, they’re not facing each other like all the other doors, and they have different sized spaces around the edges. No more uncanny valley!


Then we contacted the home designer to set up templating, and it wasn’t completely clear but it seemed like he’d agreed.  The last straw with was him getting DH’s (common) first name slightly wrong, getting it confused with a similar name.  “He doesn’t have any attention to detail!  And it has been MONTHS!” I complained to DH.  That and we’d asked him to set up templating on Friday and it was Wednesday and we hadn’t heard a peep from him (possibly he set-up templating for someone with a similar but different first name?).  So we asked his supervisor if we could switch.  And we got switched right away and the new designer looked through our stuff and said it looked like we just needed to set up templating.  And we updated her on our custom cabinet and asked about the glass cabinet and she agreed with us that the countertop templaters would let us know if we needed to replace it.  So then she set up templating and after she did that she contacted us to let us know when the guy would be coming (he came and the actual replacement should happen 3-4 weeks after we finished paying– which we’ve been having trouble doing since we have to talk to a specific person at our local Home Depot to pay and her schedule doesn’t match ours… he said we could keep the glass cabinet no problem, just as the pre-prder measurement people had told us, but if there was a problem we could replace it after the countertops were put in).

Our next step with the cabinets will be to get new knobs (either expensive indigo painted ceramic to play with the line around the backsplash or less expensive burnished metal to look classy), but first we’re going to get the countertops so we can buy some sample knobs and how things look.  (DH is leaning towards the indigo because it’s more exciting and I am leaning towards the metal because we are not exciting people.)  I think I will also replace the green gingham shelf liner with something in a matching indigo even if we end up with silver knobs, but I haven’t seen one that I love yet (plenty of great contact paper designs, but I want liners that don’t have a sticky back).  We’ve got time.

How much did the custom cabinet cost?  $275 for the cabinet.  $4 for replacing the round on the bottom and the nails to put it in.  The paint was leftover from when we had our kitchen painted three years ago so I’m not counting it.  Getting rid of the ice maker and fixing up the plumbing was $88.25 ($85 fee for coming out and $3 for a cap– they took the ice maker for free).  So… something under $375 for the entire process.  And worth it!  I am so glad that ice maker is gone even if we never put anything in the cabinet.

What do you think?  Am I the only person that second to last picture bothers?

Link Love

Some places you can donate to help women get abortions and here’s some more.  You can also donate to the ACLU or NARAL if you’re interested in the court cases (I gave to both this week).  If your state legislature is in session, the best thing that you can do is find out what abortion bills are up and call your state legislators to tell them what to support or to vote no on (I did this this week, and yelled at my state legislator for voting the wrong way!).  Celeste Pewter has some information.  It looks like Missouri just passed a ban on Friday.  If you live in Louisiana, call your senators about their heartbeat bill.  Senator Warren has suggestions for how to fight next wherever you live in the US.  If you live in Massachusetts, call your state legislators about getting those old anti-abortion laws that RvW invalidated off the books.  If you live in Texas, tell your house rep to vote against SB 22 which makes it illegal for cities to partner with planned parenthood.  If you live in a state that has already passed one of these horrific anti-abortion laws, call your legislators to find out how they voted and then either thank them or tell them you’re angry.  No matter where you live in the US, something can be done by you this week to fight.  Please let us know in the comments about what’s going on in your state, or what you’re doing nationally– it will help other people reading to find out what needs to be done and what they can do.

Also if you live in Texas, SB9 which restricts voting rights got moved out of committee in the House (it already passed the Senate), so call your house rep to tell them to VOTE NO.  My friend from Texas says you can also call the calendars committee and ask them not to schedule it to the floor.  

This thread explains how a single scam artist named Gregg Cunningham and his mega-church affiliates has used the anti-abortion movement to scam millions of dollars from evangelicals across the world… and how they pay protesters.  (Those accusations of democrats having paid protesters when they don’t– that’s because a lot of anti-abortion protesters actually are paid.)  It seems like a paranoid conspiracy theory, but there are actual receipts in the thread from reputable sources.  They’re really not trying to hide it.

Women are already being punished for controlling their bodies even after RvW.

Forced birth advocates and the misogynist playbook of the past

Maureen Johnson talks about being shamed by her insurance company because she had to get a pelvic examination after getting into a car crash.

Educated people who can move out of the South will.

Offered for your consideration

Thoughts on bad husbands, activism, and what we can all do that matters

Why have no control levers been made for women’s hands?

The best episode of yo is this racist

The one simple trick to solving the climate change problem is to elect democrats

Kids in America are missing school because they can’t afford toothpaste and tampons (Action:  donate tampons to a local food pantry or school district– our middle and high schools both have a pantry where kids can get hygiene products and they’re always asking for menstrual products, but people prefer to buy them deodorant.)

Writing romance novels in a tough year

Freedom to dumpster dive

Why so many rich kids eventually come to enjoy the taste of healthier foods

I would eat this

The great Ohio key fob mystery, or honey, I jammed the neighborhood. (Also an example why it’s good to still have actual keys, not just fobs.)

Hedgehog with socks

Ask the grumpies: How do you feel about poetry?

Leah asks:

How do you feel about poetry?

#1:  I am a big fan of doggerel.  Also patter.

#2:  I have no particular feelings about poetry. I’m not into it, myself…  I just… don’t really care about poetry.

#1:  Though you do know some of the more famous poems, at least enough to have written this lovely apology to Jenny Joseph .  And this link love of yours from 2014 was super impressive.  I have no doubt you will someday do your own take on This is Just to Say if you haven’t already.  Even though you’re not on twitter.

#2 says, YOU wrote all those things!!!

#1 I would have remembered writing when I am an old tenured woman.  I have never had any desire to dye my hair purple!  Or any color (other than getting highlights at the Vidal Sassoon school as a favor to a stranger in graduate school).

How do you feel about poetry, grumplings?


  • Another unexpected death this year… Werner Troesken passed away last September and I just found out. I feel like I was just talking to him about being interviewed by reporters about Flint.  (He’s an economic historian with an amazing book on the effects of lead solder in water pipes.  Other fantastic books about segregation etc. as well.)  People are dying too young.  I had never met Devah Pager or Alan Krueger (though I have read so many articles by both and had seen Krueger give talks), but Werner I knew and liked as a person.
  • It’s a little weird seeing old “faces” on the internet and remembering when everyone was saying, “NOooooo do not do that stupid thing with your money”… and then they did anyway, and now the thing that everyone said could happen did happen and the person is in bad shape because of it.  I think it’s more sad than schadenfreude, but also, do not do stupid things with your money.  And don’t be a jerk when you ask people for their advice and don’t like what they say.
  • DC2 fractured hir wrist in two places falling off the monkey bars.  :(
  • One of the things I hate about being a woman is how journal editors and occasionally referees will use any even marginally related previously done paper as evidence that the paper I’ve submitted is not novel.  Even if all it does is use a related novel technique looking at a completely different question.  Or uses the same dataset for a completely different literature.  When I’m refereeing guys papers that never ever gets said by the other referees (or me).  It’s like the initial assumption is let’s find any reason to reject, even a flimsy one.  It’s such a hard bar to pass.  Women’s papers have to be more than perfect.  I see this in refereeing all the time and it’s so unfair.  I hate it when it happens to me.  And big name guys can submit stuff that does the most minimal of lit reviews and provide no spec checks and somehow their stuff gets sent out and negative referee reports often get overruled.  It is just unfair.  And I’m not good enough to get over that hurdle.  I can’t get the line just right.  I put so many checks in footnotes.  And it takes me forever to do all the checks I need to put in in order to get the paper not rejected by an editor and to get the writing so it is concise but also contains enough material while also not having so much people overlook things (I have not managed this balance yet for all reviewers), and by the time I’ve done that, someone else has published something marginally related, and that’s enough of a reason not to accept what I’ve done.  So why did I bother in the first place?  And when the paper is finally accepted, there’s enough cut out to publish a second paper in another journal.  Though it has to be a lower quality journal because, of course, I already used that dataset or looked at a different subset or whatever.  FML.
  • our local library’s opening has been delayed until September.  Apparently the city counsel delayed ordering furniture and are now at the end of the furniture buying queue behind all the school districts.