Link Love

I spent all of Thursday and Friday on zoom, from 9-5:30 each day with no breaks other than quick runs to the restroom often not during breaks.  So Saturday this introvert spent playing spelling games on the switch.  Which I should not play video games because now that’s all I want to do and DH had to gently drag it out of my lands last night in order to get me off the couch.  Anyhow, that’s why this is Sunday link love.  There’s not many links because during the week I kept seeing them and thinking I would remember them and of course I didn’t and by the time today rolled around all the twitter feeds had long-since moved on.  There’s important things happening out there but I can’t remember what they are.  I need to do less service.  Also I need to get off this grant proposal where the PI is completely disorganized and the senior white male Co-PI doesn’t believe in the existence of the very commonly used term that the granting agency is interested in and goes of on 20 min lectures without allowing interruption on how all social scientists believe X, when in fact, not even most sociologists believe X, just him and all of his indoctrinated students and former students.  The PI is going to be sad and she’s going to spend a lot of time trying to convince me to stay since I’m the only person on the team with any organizational skills apparently and she’s been trying to convince me to join a group on a tangentially related topic that sounds like a book club that meets 2x/week and also a support group for stuck at associate people.  Except I’m not really *stuck* at associate, I just did not *want* to go up for full even though I should have done it 3 years ago (I’m going up this year because none of the reasons I was putting it off for turned out to help because my department head decided to reward the person in my department who she believes is incapable of service and a lazy teacher because this person has slightly more citations on google scholar, which is a function of hir having been out longer even though zie got tenure later, and having most of hir papers coauthored with a big name in the field even if they’re at second-tier journals, thus breaking a long-standing tradition of rewarding the good citizen, whether research active or not, who has been in the department longest).  Anyway, I should get these two meager links posted.  FML.

You can play the original oregon trail on stata!  (But not the dying of dysentery version– this is a precursor).   I also added a few of these ado files to my stata.  I’m contemplating whether or not it is worth capture ssc install to some of my .do files so my RAs get a surprise at the end of a program.

Here’s a post on the topic of disability simulations that we were talking about the other week.  I did not google for it– I came across it organically!  Here’s a quote that better puts into words what I’d been thinking:

The difference will be because, without any of the coping skills and techniques people with disabilities create and master throughout their lives, the best you will be able to manage will be to emulate the experience of being the single most hapless, incompetent individual with that particular disability on the face of the planet.

which then has the possibility of limiting what kinds of jobs we think disabled people can do and decreases a focus on accommodations.


Ask the grumpies: Should I report a racist comment?

K asks:

My job is full of awful people but today I very clearly heard my director making a racist comment about one of his employees. I still cannot believe it was said and it clearly is an inside joke with the two managers he was on a zoom meeting with(he was virtual, they were in an office a couple doors down from me). And they clearly did not know I was in the office based on their attitudes when later on they encountered me.

I have always had a target on my back in this office for being smart and asking good questions.

If I complain they will know who reported. I cannot live with myself if I don’t do something about what I heard.

What was “weird “ too was this same “joke” was made years ago by someone in the small town I grew up in, I was out with my daughter one night who was maybe 4 at the time and a dude thought it was funny or some shit to say this same thing about another black child in the area, who was also out that night.
F*cking sucks.

Racists suck.

I appreciate the conversations here. Not because I am looking for people who necessarily think exactly like me but because the community is intelligent, thoughtful and REAL things are talked about…..all sorts of things.

That sounds terrible and it’s a terrible position to be in.

You will have to decide whether to report or not.  The trade-offs are probably pretty clear to you– they’ll potentially make your work-life worse if you report, but morally you feel that you need to report it.  You know your calculus about how much you need this job and what your options are if you need to walk away because you can’t take it anymore.  You’re not in an at-will state and you’re likely high skill, so it may be difficult for them to just fire you, but there may be a non-zero probability.  We can’t give advice about whether to report, only you can decide.

In either case, you should be looking for work at a different company if you can’t trust upper management to take care of racist managers if brought to their attention. Similarly for being punished for being smart and asking good questions.

Racist managers make employees less productive.  Hopefully you will find a place that doesn’t have a culture of racism.

Good luck!

Grumpy Nation, what thoughts and advice do you have for K?

Why I don’t want to list my pronouns

I’ve been thinking a lot the last couple of years about gender and sexuality.  I’ve been learning a lot more about other people and about myself too.

I’ve mentioned before that I only recently learned that demi-sexual is a thing, and is in fact, a thing that explains so much of my life (and why I will never ever be able to do modern-style dating if something terrible happens to DH).

I have *always* thought that gender was just a construct and an unfair one at that.  I have never understood the actual concept of people being male or people being female.  Male and female to me was always something that society assigned and assigned roles for based on my chromosomes and physical characteristics at birth.  I’ve never cared about my clothing being masculine or feminine, just that it be comfortable and appropriate for whatever venue I have to be in (I LOVED grunge in the 1990s, and my pandemic wardrobe is DH’s old t-shirts with workout shorts/pants). I have always figured I was female because it is much easier to be female than it is to be a trans man.  If DH was ok with it and I had a magic wand, I would totally switch sexes and reap the benefit of all that male privilege.

At some point, I realized that other people do identify as male or female and not because society has tricked them, because trans women exist.  In order to give up that male privilege, they must really truly identify with being female.  Thus it makes sense that some people truly identify with being male, even if their chromosomes are XX.  And there are likely XX-types who feel they must be women and XY-types who feel they must be men.  This is just one of those things that I don’t understand, much like the way my demi-sexuality makes it so I don’t understand instant sexual attraction.  But just because I don’t understand something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  People are different and that’s ok.

After a lot of thought, I have decided of the types of genders listed out there, I am probably non-binary.  But I’m also the kind of non-binary that doesn’t have gender dysphoria (so I can’t even answer many of those “am I non-binary” online quiz questions). That is because I don’t understand the concept of gender at all (except as a construct of how society views me). I don’t care if people gender me male or female or non-binary or what have you.  People who are non-binary who really identify with not being male or female might have negative effects being mis-gendered as something they’re not.  Me, I don’t care.  It’s not that I need to come out because I’m fine with how other people gender me (other than the whole misogyny thing) because my view of gender is exactly that– how other people gender me.

Lots of people have started listing their preferred pronouns on their zoom profiles and email signatures.  The idea is that if CIS-gendered people (that’s people whose gender identity matches their chromosomes/sex characteristics) start doing this, it will seem more normal for trans and non-binary people.

The one part of my gender identity that seems real is that I do not want to label myself. I do not want to bring attention to my gender.  I don’t want to list she/her because I resent being treated in the way that women are treated.  I don’t want to put down he/him because people look at me and see a woman and that would cause cognitive dissonance and problems I don’t want to deal with, even though I would prefer to be treated as if I were male.  (I wish we were *all* treated like white men on the lowest difficulty setting and given the benefit of the doubt etc.)  I don’t want to put they/them because it doesn’t bother me to be referred to as she or he and I know it’s hard for people to get used to the they/them construct and I don’t want to be the person they practice on.  (Maybe that’s selfish?  But I don’t think I have to always sacrifice myself.  I’m already gendered as a woman by society.)  I don’t want to draw attention to myself or to have to explain this whole, “I don’t understand gender” thing.  Someone would likely try to explain it to me(!)

On a recent anonymous survey, we were given multiple choices for gender and I happily picked female and non-binary.  When I only get to pick one of male/female/other, I assume they mean “how do others view you” so I pick female.  I think this is different from the pronoun listing because with the pronoun listing it really feels like I am saying, “this is what I *prefer*” and it isn’t.  I would prefer people treat me (and everyone else) like a dude.  I would prefer there not be genders at all!  (But I understand that some people prefer gender, so as long as it isn’t hurting others, do what you will.)

If I were forced to do the pronoun thing, I would write: (whatever/whatever).  But I know that seems flip and not helpful for people who want to make their genders clear because it is part of their internal identity.  So I’m glad we’re not forced.  (Briefly considers an email sig with “pronouns:  it’s all good,” rejects it.)

And I think this is ok.  I’m not making fun of listing the pronouns.  I understand why they’re important, and I think it is great that CIS people are adding them to their profiles.  But I do not want to do it myself.  Not because I think they’re bad or wrong but because I really do not want to label myself with a gender.  I hope this absence doesn’t harm anyone or make me less of an ally, but there’s so little that I care about when it comes to gender that the fact that I do care about this one thing… well, I think I should listen to myself, especially since I’ve determined it isn’t coming from a place of internalized bigotry.  I don’t want to lie and say I prefer she/her when I in fact do not prefer it.  It turns out that I really do care that I don’t care.

Also, I love the comic strip, egscomics even though the beginning is immature and the storylines take years.  I think it’s neat how the author has played with gender identity and how different cast members have different levels of it.  Now I have the Ranma 1/2 season 1 theme stuck in my head.

Have you put pronouns on your stuff?  Why or why not?

I have a problem: Yes, I know this is my subconscious’s way of trying to take control in uncertain times. Ridiculous subconscious.

I used to have self-control.

That was before I got hooked on the ‘tizer.

First I got small packages.  What Bath and Body works had in order to keep me in the classroom come Fall.  I didn’t pay attention to scent.  Most of the Spring scents available were unobtrusively pleasant and mild.

Then I ordered a huge supply from office max or something that would keep us set conceivably for the entire pandemic (we could just refill the little bottles as necessary, I thought).  It didn’t come in small sizes.  But that package didn’t come and didn’t come.

So I ordered more small containers from Bath and Body Works.  And I started noticing that I liked some of the scents better than others.  It came in different forms– gel and spritz.  Both were nice.  The spray was especially good for voter registration and protesting.

Finally the Office Max order came.  I had the generals for a hand sanitizer army.

But by this point, supplies were loosening up.  Hand sanitizer started being more readily available.  And the fall scents came out at Bath and Body works.

I desperately wanted to try these pumpkin spice and related scents.  And I wanted to get rid of and never use the summer scents that smelled strongly of men’s cologne.  Ocean.  Gingham.

I realized I could give some of these unwanted hand sanitizers away as prizes.  Surely that would justify buying more.  Even though I had enough large containers of the unscented kind.  So I bought the fall scents.  And some of those scents (Flannel, Eucalyptus spearmint ) were too strong and went into the prize pile.  Others were lovely.

But I only used up about one little container a month of the stuff I liked (DH tended to use the unscented bottles but wasn’t going through any quicker), and they came in packs of five.  And winter break came and I wouldn’t be going out anywhere.  I wouldn’t need any more sanitizer until school started again (though we did put some out along with snacks for delivery people to take).  Even though the winter scents had come out and I very much wanted to try them.  Peppermint.  Vanilla.  But no, Christmas would be over before I had a chance to use them again Spring semester.  Vaccines would be widely disseminated long before I could get through my army.  DH’s job-loss meant we were no longer stupidly high income.  I resisted, looking wistfully at the page every few (let’s be honest, I want to say weeks, but it’s actually) days.

Then the winter scent five-packs went on sale for $6 each because the Spring scents were coming in.

I caved.

My Hand Sanitizer Army

My Hand Sanitizer Army

I’ve been pretty good since– the spring scents are out and I haven’t tried all of them, but I haven’t felt the need to get more.  Maybe that’s attributable to Joe Biden.  Or maybe I need to whittle the army down a bit before building it back up again.  Sadly the left Clorox container is almost empty and I was really lucky to score the right one at Target last month– we’re responsible for providing our own wipes and wiping down everything before each class.  The university provided us with exactly 10 wipes at the beginning of the school year along with a single terrible quality cloth mask (somehow DC1’s high school provided their kids with a way better quality mask including 3 layers of different fabrics and a nose thingy).

Have you been collecting any pandemic-related gear like sanitizer or masks?

Link Love

Something amazing– I’ve been watching talk show interviews and reading articles and for the first time in my memory, the Democrats from Pelosi to Bernie are all providing a unified message.  Maybe Biden’s unity speech was really pointed at the big tent of the Democratic party…  It’s also a really good message that I think truly Patriotic Americans can agree with.  Quick impeachment in the Senate because we can’t let future presidents think it’s ok to incite insurrection, but we don’t have time to drag it out.  Focus on Covid/jobs/climate change/shoring up Democracy/equality of opportunity/justice/healthcare/etc. (it’s a somewhat lengthy list, but they all have it), reach out to Republicans but only for so long– if they don’t respond go straight to reconciliation.  No we probably won’t reach radical seditionists who don’t believe in democracy or white supremacists, but there are a lot of people who were duped by Trump who have needs that we will try to meet.

Also… it is crazy how I’m not the only one who has been literally clenching her teeth for four years.  And how weird it feels to literally not be doing that anymore.  And how everything just seems brighter.  There’s a long road ahead, but we don’t have to worry about the president signing an executive order to destroy yet another entire minority group’s way of life every few days.  We can focus on repairing and rebuilding.

Hi-tech Masks to look out for in the near future.

I agree with this 100%.  Biden should go big, fast, and simple.  Usually I prefer the Obama approach of doing evidence-based policy even if the politics aren’t optimal, but there’s so much that needs to get undone in 2 years that we need to do as much as possible as quickly as possible at a speed that doesn’t allow the media to focus on it.  And media, I think you should focus on Trump now– four leisurely years to focus on all the big news stories that got buried as we no doubt find out more of his corruption and wrongdoing.  I want to see those Trump headlines now, but slowly and with speculation about jailtime!  And if jailtime is not on the table, media, I think you should push congress to enact laws that will put it on the table in the future.  No more of this norms and the court of public opinion and trust article 25 stuff.

Captain Awkward talking about what she’s going to do going forward.

Elle has a really nice story on Amanda Gorman.  (Also I’m not the only person for whom her poem finally let out all the tears that had been held in.)

Let’s be the light, guys.  We can’t stop now– we have to help rebuild.  That may mean looking at reforms at the state and local level.  It may mean donating to causes.  It may mean thanking your members of congress every time they do the right thing or telling them again and again that they need to start.  It may be organizing new groups and assisting and aiding groups already on the ground.  It may be postcards and letters to voters.  It may be helping people register.  You probably have ideas of your own. We have to keep pushing forward for a better tomorrow.

Ask the grumpies: When you say to keep a windfall in cash, what exactly is “cash”?

bethh asks:

What do you mean when you talk about keeping a windfall in cash? Literally under the mattress? In a savings account? Would a CD count? How about a money market fund?

The short answer is any of those, except not under the mattress (Don’t give people are reason to break into your house!).

Essentially the idea is you put money in a safe place where it’s not going to lose value, or at least not lose the complete equivalent to inflation each year (many checking/savings accounts will pay less than inflation, but not *that* much less than inflation).  When we’re talking about a windfall, we mean parking it someplace where it won’t lose much value while you decide what to do with it.  Someplace pretty accessible and FDIC insured so it doesn’t lose value if an institution goes out of business.  “Cash” basically means a safe place for your money where you can get at it.  You won’t be making a huge amount, if anything, on this money, but it’ll be safe.

So, yes savings accounts, FDIC insured money market funds, and so on.

With a CD you have to be careful about when you can access the money, so if it is a lot, you might either only use a short-term CD for when you know you’ll have made a decision about where to put the money (say, 6 months out after a family death, for example).  Alternatively, you can build a CD ladder, which means having multiple CDs that come due at varying intervals so that if you need, say, 10K, there will be a CD of that amount maturing soon at any point in time.

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My spice rack

Many areas of my life are not at all organized. But I do have a bit of (undiagnosed, probably colloquial in nature rather than clinical) ocd. When the world is falling apart, I get some relief from having certain things organized. Alphabetical books in the bookcases. Pens organized by color. Clips in their appropriate bins by size. Silverware, stationary etc. separated by type and organized in appropriate places in their appropriate drawers.  When I went into work and the supply cabinet was kept stocked, I would make sure the teas were organized by type (caffeinated one shelf, greens together, etc… after one botched restocking, I explained to the student workers the system I had put in place. Luckily they like me!). Many of these things are things you can’t see and maybe it doesn’t matter that I have piles of work papers all around me optimistically organized by vintage (newest stuff on top).

One of the things that must be organized alphabetically (and that makes me yell “Who has been messing with my system?!?” when it gets out of order) is my spice rack. Back when we were living in an apartment, spices lived alphabetically on set of cheap shelves in the living room because our kitchens were tiny (or, for two years, shared). When we moved here, I decided I wanted a rack like I’d seen on the backs of doors. Our pantry has enough room that we didn’t need to put it on the back of a door– this is screwed into the wall. I picked out wire rack modules at Home Depot and DH installed them.

Here are the top few shelves (currently I don’t have any little spices sticking out on top– we used up a few of the containers we had duplicates of [like Northwoods seasoning which is my favorite replacement for spice mixes like Emeril’s, blackening, cajun, etc.] so I was able to spread things out.)  The holes in the wall above the spice rack pre-date us.  I’m not sure what the previous owners had here because whatever it was they took it with them.  (They used the walk-in pantry mostly as alcohol storage!)

Here are the bottom three shelves where we keep bagged spices, also in alphabetical order.  It’s mostly Penzey’s but they were out of ground cardamom when we needed it (cardamom is one of my favorite spices) so I got some from  (In the jarred spices we’re mostly Penzey’s but I don’t mind having different jars so long as they’re about the same shape/size and, importantly, everything is in alphabetical order.  We have mostly Penzey’s not because I need all the yellow labels matching but because they have excellent quality spices at reasonable prices.  We are not getting paid to say that and they don’t know we exist.  It’s just a wonderful company in so many ways.  Pick up some of their Northwoods seasoning, and if you like things hot, their Berebere mix. Try their mixed seasonings to make flavored roasted nuts or put them in sour cream for a fun veggie dip.  *love emoji*)

You can see each shelf is connected to the wall by brackets that came with the shelf.

Here you can see that the shelf is modular– it’s composed of multiple sets.  You can also see the envelope we use to list the spices we’re going to need to get on our next Penzey’s run in The City.  Or, since the pandemic started, our next Penzey’s order.

I know these are not very pinteresty pictures– I think I had the light off and the pantry is a bit dark and I was too lazy to play with the lighting, but you get the idea.

To forestall people who question whether we can use all these spices before they go stale:  not always, but I would rather have a spice available and stale (meaning we have to use more of it) than to not have it at all.  We do go through our regular spices pretty quickly.

And… this is not all our spices.  We have a box on the floor to the side that is just different kinds of dried chiles (also alphabetical). On the shelves to the left in between the cereal bars and the crackers I keep different kinds of seeds and fancy salts.  On the shelves to the right between the chocolate bars and candied fruit we keep extracts and waters (and would keep food coloring and cake decorations if DC2 weren’t allergic to red dye).  Cocoa powder we keep in the back shelves with the flours.  Peppercorns are shelved, oddly, in front of the chocolate bars, but I think that’s just because it’s really easy access.  But still, a place for everything and everything has its place.

How do you keep your spices?  How do you self-sooth when the world is going crazy?

Are all iPhone 6s dying right now? Stupid planned obsolescence!

My iphone 6, purchased a mere 5 years ago, started having battery problems again.  This would be the second time it’s had battery problems, the first time being when they had that lawsuit.  It got down to 84% and I decided I might as well send it in before it got down to the recommended 80% while I was on Christmas break and not expecting to leave the house.  DH and DC1 both have phones, and I can text people using my iPad pro even if I can’t get calls.

So I sent it off (and immediately had a reporter want to call me, but we ended up zooming instead, which was nice because I was able to show him what I was talking about visually instead of using words).  Last time I got a battery replacement, I think we went to the city, but I’m not planning on going to a genius bar until after I’m vaccinated!

It made it to California and then I got an email saying it needed $299.99 worth of repairs, though it didn’t give any other information.  DH called the customer service link and they were like, yeah, the technician didn’t write down what the problem was so I can’t tell you.  But they’re not going to replace your battery unless you give them another $300.  You want us to send it back to you?  And DH was like yes please.  We’re certainly not going to get something repaired if we don’t know what it is being repaired for!

And three days later they still hadn’t sent it back, so I clicked the “please return to me” button when they emailed me to say we hadn’t told them what to do.  That didn’t seem to do anything either, but on the day they said they’d return it if they didn’t hear from us, I got an email saying they were returning it.  It came back and seems to be in the same working order as when I sent it, though I did have to switch off a bunch of personal data sharing that somehow magically got turned back on.

If this had happened before DH’s layoff, I would have gotten the iPhone 12 mini, probably a souped up version for like $900, given it to DH and then taken his iPhone 8 as my own.  Now I’m stuck trying to decide if I should do that (maybe with a less fancy version for $750) or get an SE which is only $450.  Right now I’m mostly at home with access to charging so the battery isn’t as bad a problem as it could be, so I might be able to put this decision off until the *next* iphone product comes out.  But once I’m spending more time outside of my house, especially if travel is involved, I will definitely need something that can hold a charge longer than my phone currently does.

I’m irritated because I do not really ask much of my phone, just websurfing (including youtube), google hangouts, email, and occasional map stuff.  I have only downloaded three apps (hotmail, hangouts, and google maps).  I spend most of my time on Safari.  I don’t need a fancy phone.  My iPhone 6 was fine.

My friend’s iPhone 6S’s battery is dying and she’s getting a new one.  I saw revanche complaining about her iPhone 6 on twitter.  I have to wonder if there’s some kind of planned obsolescence thing going on that doesn’t care how much or how little you use your phone or when you bought it.  It’s almost enough to make me want to try an Android.

Have you experienced planned obsolescence on your phone recently?  How do you decide when to get a new phone?  How do you decide which kind of phone to get? 

link love

I can’t believe school is starting already.  I’m teaching two sections of the same class, but one is in person and the other online, AND my department head just forced a senior who failed my class last year into one of my sections even though zie prefers being in the easier class that satisfies the same requirement because the head thinks that zie is going to get a B or higher in my class to replace the failing grade this time around while taking an overload when the reason zie did so poorly in both my classes was inability to manage time (the other class is almost a guaranteed A, but that failing grade would still be counted in GPA).  This is irritating because I would have planned things differently these last few weeks if I’d known someone who had taken the class last year was going to be in it.  But zie has promised to throw away all hir homework and exam solutions so zie won’t be tempted to share, so hopefully it will work out.  The other really irritating thing is that zie could have converted the low grade to an unsatisfactory last year AFTER grades were out and then it wouldn’t count in hir GPA (and then get an A in the other class, making it more likely that zie would graduate on time), but zie didn’t.

Yes, quarantine is giving you headaches and back pain and more.

This article on why we’re not wearing better masks was so good, that along with the Atlantic’s coup coverage, I decided it was time to give them money and subscribe.  I also clicked on the newsweek article they link to and bought some very expensive N95 and KN95 masks from one of the online places that newsweek recommended.  I think I’m going to double-mask while teaching with a disposable 95 and a cloth mask over.

The following trypod episode is long, but Eugene says some really brilliant things in it about bigotry.  Zach too.  I like all the trypod episodes I’ve listened to so far, but this one is a lot deeper and more thought-provoking than the standard fare:

Ask the grumpies: Any useful sex/pregnancy education books for young kids?

Julia asks:

Any useful sex/pregnancy education books for youngish kids? I have a 3 and 5 year old. They have a friend whose mother is pregnant and they are starting to ask pregnancy and “how babies are made” type questions. I want to be prepped and not super awkward about this. Any advice? The book “It’s Not the Stork” seems too advanced for 3 and 5 year olds, but maybe I’m mistaken.

I vaguely remember getting a very clinical description of where babies come from when I was five and my sister was on her way.  (I feel like it was connected to my mom’s Bradley classes?  Or maybe it was something specific for older siblings, I don’t remember… I just vaguely remember pictures of a woman’s reproductive system and one of those 3-d models of a pregnant woman’s belly).  I did not at all connect that with the naughty “sex” thing that showed up on tv all the time that my mom would say was a bit old for me and maybe I shouldn’t be watching.  (See:  Three’s company reruns, Moonlighting, etc.)

I don’t think we did anything for DC1 when DC2 was on the way.  Or maybe we checked out a bunch of stuff from the library?  I can’t actually remember!  So… not the best advice here.  Looking at some of the lists a lot of those covers look familiar, so I think we did get the Facts of Life by Miller and Pelham from the library and Baby on the Way by William and Martha Sears, though I think there was something off about it (and it’s for the situation where you are the one having a new baby, not a friend’s mom), and Being Born by Kitzinger and Nilsson.  The first and last are quite clinical.  I think we got Where do babies come from by Sheffield, but I feel like there was something off about it as well.

Here’s some lists of suggestions from Dr. Google:



kavanaugh report

In short:  Libraries are awesome– see what your library has on the topic and what works for you and your kids.

Grumpy Nation, do you have better recommendations?