Soliciting more Ask the Grumpies

You may have noticed that the last few Ask the Grumpies were hard questions that we didn’t have great answers for… long-term readers should know what that means… It’s time to solicit more Ask the Grumpies questions from readers!

Ask the grumpies is a feature we run almost every Friday. You ask, we answer, or we punt and ask the grumpy nation to answer. In any case, you get the benefit of not only our wisdom but the collective wisdom of the far wiser grumpy nation.

What questions do you have for us? What can we bring clarity or further confusion to? What can the grumpy nation ponder and discuss on your behalf? Ask in the comments below or email us at grumpyrumblings at gmail dot com.

p.s.  You can ask the grumpies a question at any time, not during these annual-ish question drives, but without these drives we wouldn’t be able to run Ask the Grumpies every week.

33 Responses to “Soliciting more Ask the Grumpies”

  1. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    What will we do on fridays if there’s no more questions?

  2. CG Says:

    Ok, here’s one: What do you want to do when you retire? My motivation for asking is I’m always interested in these people who retire at 40 or 50–they have a lot of time left if things go well and what kinds of things do they want to do or accomplish with their second act? This applies to people who plan to retire at a more traditional age as well. I’ll try to think of some more.

  3. CG Says:

    Here’s another: What books have you read that changed your life in a long-lasting way? Variation: Have you ever had a conversation that changed your life permanently? How?
    On another topic, and forgive me if you’ve already addressed this at some point, how do you manage your email? Mine is out of control.

  4. Jess Says:

    I’ve got a couple!

    1. How do you decide how much to give to charity? I’m not religious so I’ve only heard of the 10% tithe recently and it seems like so much! At the same time, I know a “could” afford to donate 10% while still saving 15% as recommended, so is it wrong not to do so? I am very young (25) and the idea of compound interest has been hammered into me, plus I am reasonably confident I will be taking a pay cut in about a year to switch industries (into one that is better for the world) and move cities, so it feels safer to save a lot while I can.
    Right now I’m donating about 2% through automatic monthly donations and so far in 2020 have donated about 2% in one-off donations. I expect to donate more this year given the many extenuating circumstances. Any advice is welcome!

    2. Advice for trailing spouses? I am not an academic, but my boyfriend is about to start a PhD program. Assuming we stay together, which I would like to, reading your blog makes feel like I’m signing up for a lifetime of moving to wherever there is a job for him (in potentially not great places). He promises that he will not take a job in a place I’m not happy with, but it’s still easy to get stressed about my lack of control and options. I am confident that I can get a job in most places, but I am pretty career-focused and it is weird to think that each job I’m in has an externally defined end date for the foreseeable future (current job prior to PhD program, 5-6 years for PhD, then a few years for post-doc before hopefully getting a professor position). Would love any advice from Grumpy Nation :)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      These are great questions! Followup to the second– what is his field (generally is fine)? There’s a big difference in where you get to live depending on what you’re studying. He may end up not able to stay in academia at all and it turns out your best option is, like most high powered couples, to both find industry jobs in the same tech city (like Wandering Scientist and her DH). The fact that you mention a post-doc makes that somewhat likely, though post-docs are currently trendy in econ where you have more choices, so…

      • Jess Says:

        Physics! Not sure the specific subfield yet, though probably theoretical. Industry jobs in the same tech city is my not-so-secret hope. Or he could end up at a national lab. I’m an engineer, by the way.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Spoiler: I wouldn’t worry about him getting a university job. (My department has a program where we train physics PhDs to work on Wallstreet or to become Quants. But you’re absolutely right that national labs and think tanks hire a lot of physics phds. And pay them well!) Take it a year at a time and just assume you can stay committed to your job.

        Btw, engineers are the best!

  5. MSWR Says:

    I’d love to know your recommendations for romance novels and other HEA novels written by BIPOC, especially women.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Absolutely! We’ve been introduced to some new ones recently as well because of the recent publicity meaning we’re getting more great recommendations. (I’ve got Slay out from the library right now from #2’s list… looking forward to dipping into it this weekend…)

      There are HEA novels by BIPOC in our books posts, but we don’t tend to point out that they’re by BIPOC specifically. It will be a fun exercise to collect them!

  6. Link love | Grumpy Rumblings (of the formerly untenured) Says:

    […] you like reading Ask the Grumpies on Fridays, we are soliciting more questions! That feature doesn’t exist without the curiosity of the Grumpy […]

  7. K Says:

    Why would anyone in their right mind-ever?still? be using Facebook?
    No, seriously.

  8. Steph Says:

    What advice do you have for a new faculty member?

    If you haven’t tackled this somewhere – How do you organize your books? How do you feel about the rainbow bookshelves trend that is still going on? (Or the “spines inward/pages outward” trend – maybe this is a deliberately controversial question ;) )

    When do aesthetics influence the things that you buy, and for which things does functionality matter more? I’m currently overthinking this question in terms of buying a car, and also had a related debate about computers with a couple of art majors a few years ago.

  9. Katherine Says:

    Does your family have any quirky tips & tricks for everyday situations/tasks? are they effective?

    e.g. my MIL has the best hiccup cure I’ve ever tried: take a spoonful of sugar and pour some red wine vinegar in it, then swallow the sugar-vinegar mix in one gulp. I get hiccups a lot, and on the (very few!) occasions this has failed me, a second dose has done the trick. Family opinions vary as to why/how this works, but everyone agrees that it does.

    I would love to learn some tricks for getting rid of an earworm, or other annoying but minor everyday problems.

  10. SP Says:

    How do you research products these days? Have things changed since this 2017 post? https://nicoleandmaggie.wordpress.com/2017/07/03/should-you-buy-the-best-should-you-look-at-ratings-a-deliberately-controversial-post/

    The reason I ask is that I find myself very skeptical of review sites, and also very annoyed by Amazon’s lack of control over product. (Fraudulent products can get put in the same “bin” as genuine ones, and you have no idea what you will get when you place your order for a well reviewed item.) Wirecutter is mostly OK, but not as through. Consumer reports feels kind of dated. So, I’m kind of back to the old pre-internet method of finding brands I trust…. Is there a better way?!?!

  11. Okay Says:

    Because SHU is smart and lovely and not delicate…..her comment section (blog)is really a great place to extract conversations that can can be used to challenge, make uncomfortable(?) productively-in a good way, to force more conversation on class and race, no?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      … I don’t know? I’m only an occasional reader. But maybe other people have opinions? We’re not GOMI (does that even still exist?) so I definitely don’t want to send trolls her way. I’m not sure I know enough to know if posting this as an ask the grumpies would be safe for her.

      • Okay Says:

        Ok, that makes sense. I wouldn’t want to make her a target but it is very interesting to say the least, what is witnessed in this setting.
        Maybe when I can be more articulate and give more concrete examples I will ask again?
        It’s not to shame or attack anyone for sure but if people really want to “do more” support BLM and speak about the pandemic and it’s consequences that affect everyone…..her blog and commenters somehow speak to me in a way that calls out the BS and willful ignorance.
        Thanks!

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Do you have example posts? I remember seeing the one on books.

      • Okay Says:

        I certainly don’t mean to be trollish about her blog, truly! It’s just for me interesting to witness i guess. Nobody over there is a bad person.

        Issues of class and race have always been of huge concern, Interest and work for me. Maybe i’m just looking for places that I think people can honestly speak about things??
        Dunno, so no harm intended on this blog or hers.

        (Really troubling to say the least at what is happening in this country, with so many passively sitting by)

  12. Dame Eleanor Hull Says:

    What do you think about teaching online in your program, these days? Some years back, you were vehemently opposed. Has your position changed? If so, is that because of improved technology, better course design, or just the constraints of the pandemic? Do you see the role of online classes differently for grads and undergrads, or are the problems more related to program rather than to age/degree?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      That’s a great question!!! I wonder if people’s positions on this topic have changed.

      #2 has been vehemently opposed and is no longer teaching (#2 also does not have a cell phone and hates e-readers, so…). #1 has never put in enough thought/research to have a formal opinion about it.

      #1 does know that she’s not going to be doing it “right” if she does it this year.

  13. Lisa Says:

    The more I read about experiences reopening K-12 schools around the world, the more it becomes clear that things will be chaotic and unpredictable with openings and closings on a dime. I’d love to solicit the wisdom of the Grumpy Nation about whether it is going to be better to stick with local schools this year and expose parents and kids to all of the stress, uncertainty, risk, etc. or to commit to full-on homeschooling and expose parents and kids to the stress and challenges that not-so-voluntary homeschooling will cause. I’m starting to lean toward creating my own curriculum so that I can be in control of what’s happening and not have to worry about what the school district is doing. But although I have plenty of experience with college-level curriculum development and teaching, I have no experience at the K-12 levels.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Great question! I will bump the book organization question another week and run this on Friday.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      My one big thing though: Don’t be afraid to be selfish. Your time matters too. Your kids will do great no matter what happens (assuming you’re not abusive or truly neglectful etc., which is a good assumption). Things may be different depending on what you choose to do, but your kids will still be great.

      • Lisa Says:

        Thanks – I agree with you 100%. My kids will be fine and a year of sub-optimal schooling won’t sink any of them (ugh, privilege – I worry about others who won’t be so fine but there are only so many problems I can solve right now). But luckily I’m in a good spot in my career right now, just got a couple of grants, my teaching is under control. To some extent I feel like homeschooling would be the selfish option b/c it would save me from the stress of worrying about what the district is doing. We’ll see.


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