RBOC

  • Courtney Milan and friends on twitter recently had a conversation about how at the core of a long-regency romance novel is that people want to be safe and that money is one way to be safe.  People want to marry a duke because that is the safest place to be in that time period.
  • I read a lot of long-regencies.  But I’ve also read a lot of mystery novels.  What has been interesting to me in my most recent juxtaposition, jumping from one to the other is how all these 1920s-1960s murder mysteries I’ve been binging on c/o Christie and Sayers make it very clear that it is *dangerous* to have money, especially if you are leaving it to other people and not charities.  If you have a lot of money you might as well put a target on your back.  People will marry you but then *kill* you.  They will come to your aid when you are sick, but only until you sign a new will in their favor.  Kind hearts and coronets.
  • I think it is not random that this transition between 19th century and 20th century measures of literary safety happens– the 1920s bring the strong rise of the middle class and forcing minor gentry to work for a living, though I guess the Mapp and Lucia series show that that element of society is still going strong into the 1930s.  And of course, Benson makes it clear (much like Jane Austen did before him) that idle hands truly are the devil’s playground and the idle wealthy are a ridiculous drain on society.
  • But I also want to have a lot of money because it helps me feel safe.  And I want to leave money to my children because I want them to be safe.  I like being able to escape.  But we won’t have enough money to make us worthwhile targets… and I would hope our children wouldn’t want us dead!  That’s a good reason for them to have their own income and careers.  We spend so much on investing in them so they can take care of themselves.  Which is another mistake that those 1920s victims make– they ask their children to live on their expectations rather than training them as solicitors or financiers or what have you.  No vocation, idle hands.
  • Though I guess finance is a bad choice, come to think of it, because a pretty common murder motive is needing funds to cover up embezzlement!  So maybe just stick to law.  Not medicine because they have too much access to poison.
  • Agatha Christie seems to be really pro-LGBT, particularly gay men.  It’s sometimes a plot point (won’t spoil it, one of her many plays).  Reading the mysterious Mr. Quinn it is quite lovely how in the first story she’s pretty clear, though using coded language, that the hero, Mr. Sattherwaite (who I think appears in the occasional Hercule Poirot when HP needs gossip, ah yes, wikipedia says he does) is gay, or possibly asexual (though in later short stories she gives him a failed marriage proposal).  In contrast, Sayers seems like a pretty awful homophobe, particularly when it comes to lesbians.  She straight up says pretty terrible things.  And yet, Sayers seems, on the whole, less anti-Semitic prior to WWII (as noted in an earlier post, Christie seems to realize she shouldn’t be anti-Semitic once the Nazis come into power).
  • When I was in elementary school, one of the children’s moms came in once a year to teach about Judiasm, usually around Hannukah.  I didn’t realize until I was much older that she did this to help combat antisemitism.  We also had a disabilities unit in 4th grade where we learned about different kinds of disabilities and how people worked around them and how to treat people we met who had disabilities. People would come in and talk to us about how to treat their seeing eye dogs and so on.  The learning specialist talked about how she taught people with dyscalculia to add (which… was how I did adding at the time).  It was a really wonderful program and definitely helped me not be a jerk or idiot when meeting new people.  I’m not sure we could do that these days because people would be too afraid of making mistakes.  And I’m sure there were stupid things we did, but on the whole all those old educational videos from the 1970s and the community volunteers themselves made us less likely to be harmful and more likely to support ADA legislation.
  • This blog really is a random mix of things.  I think that’s more unusual than it used to be?  But maybe not.
  • One of DH’s relative’s “friends” traveled to DC for the coup and stormed the capitol.  He was really excited about it and posted pictures and videos all over his social media.  Then he came home and found out that everyone he knew IRL was horrified and deleted all his social media and is pretending he didn’t go at all.  I hope the FBI finds him.
  • DH’s relative’s youngest (the only one in college) got an additional bill for $2K for last semester because financial aid was based on the number of people living in the household and so he included his oldest and her kid.  But, apparently the oldest got some kind of food assistance last semester (I don’t know if WIC or foodstamps or what) so the school decided she and her kid didn’t count as part of DH’s relative’s household, so they sent a retroactive bill for the difference(!)  That seems crazy to me.  (We paid it.  We don’t know how much this semester is going to cost even though classes start soon.)
  • Speaking of DH’s relative– he kicked a covid positive mask-denier “We’re all getting it anyway so who cares” off the work site where he was working twice.  The first time he threatened to kill the guy (“If you give me covid and my immunocompromised wife dies, I will hunt you down” “That’s not fair, you won’t know it was me”) , which in retrospect, he regrets.  The second time he called the guy’s boss and threatened to tell the city.  That actually worked.  It’s nice when doing the things we tell our kids to do (talk to a responsible adult when someone is being dangerous) actually works.
  • Speaking of anti-maskers, DH tried to get our car inspection sticker renewed and had to go to three places before he found one where the people were wearing masks (the dealership).  Except… after it was done the cashier had her mask around her neck instead of her face.  He also went to drop something off at a government office and didn’t realize until he’d left that none of the people working there even had masks.  7 people died yesterday and our ICU has been 130% full for almost a full week now.  The students aren’t back yet.  DH is shaken.  I wonder if I should start doing errands.  Maybe DH can do my work instead.  I’m not sure what I would have done in the moment, but I definitely would have reminded the cashier to put her mask up (I would have assumed it was an accident).  As for the government office, if I’d noticed, I think maybe I would have just left the item we were turning in on the inside of the door.
  • The library was still quite lovely for curbside, and Target curbside was great.  Hopefully he won’t have to do any more errands for a while.  I can pick up and drop off library books myself once my school starts since the library is on the way to work.  Also I’d completely forgotten that some people don’t wear masks because last week I went for my annual doctor’s visit and everyone at the hospital was masked without a single nose showing.  I switched hospital systems and it has made a HUGE difference.  Also everyone there was super nice and seemed genuinely happy to be working there, which is also really different.
  • The bad news though is that I am now obese(!) which I have NEVER been before (BMI exactly 30, but I’ve also gained a lot since my last checkup so it’s been a fast weight gain, which is the least healthy kind).  I had my glucose checked but it’s fine.  My bad cholesterol is up too– usually it’s nicely in the low to middle healthy range and only my good cholesterol is high.  The doctor’s notes say the cholesterol is fine, but the automatic thing says “borderline high”.  I’m having a bunch of other weird health problems too which I should probably just give their own post.  Pandemic is bad!  I’ve told DH he can still make bread but he needs to cut back on the sweets.  The children have noticed and have been complaining.

What are we doing to deal with the huge post-holiday Covid surge

The students are still gone, but our daily rates are higher than they have ever been, with new deaths every day and not just people ages 70+.  One of our admin just lost her father to Covid in town. Rates will only spike in mid-January when the students return.

I am teaching one section in person next semester.  This is going to be dangerous.  The course is limited to 15 students and there’s a wait list.  My two covid deniers from last semester are not in it, thankfully. (My other section is online.  I do not have a choice about either.)

Other than that, we are blessed that we do not have to do anything that puts us or our children at additional risk.  Most people are in situations where their jobs require them to be out with the public more than once a week and they don’t have full power to tell people to pull up their masks like I will.  Most people don’t have the ability to get all groceries delivered or done by curbside pickup.  These folks are at risk of getting covid themselves and spreading covid to others.  Those of us who can reduce the spread should because not everybody can.

SO, what are we doing?  (Bolding the things that are fun substitutes rather than sacrifices)

  1. DH and I are working from home when possible.  (Technically DH isn’t working anymore, but hey.)  This means that I go to work and then come home.  I also requested an 8am course so that there’s nobody before me and there’s a big gap after me (since usually classes start at 9:15).  Even so, I wipe everything I touch down with clorox wipes that I had to buy myself (and it is not easy buying clorox wipes!)  Students sit only in chairs that are 6 feet apart, which are actually 6 feet apart after I complained last summer to the department that the original dots on the chairs where only 1 foot apart on one dimension (they now skip rows, including the first row).  I do not let them touch each other.  When they share items I make them wipe them down with a wipe before if I catch them and squirt them hand sanitizer after.  Doing in-class activities has been a pain in the rear and I collected a lot of suggestions from students last semester about what to do and what not– it seems like pairs are doable 6 feet apart but triplets are not unless one person is zooming from home.  Some students liked sharing screens through zoom while still in the same room and some didn’t– one suggestion was for them to share a google doc which I think will work well.  I tell students that if they are the least bit sick they have to zoom in.  I enforce masking.  I don’t let them eat.  If I drink, I do it from behind the plexiglass (which doesn’t cover the entire board area, which is annoying).  If they drink, I tell them to use a straw if they can and keep the mask on as best they can.
  2. We’re only shopping curbside.  In the few rare cases in which we’ve had to go inside the store in the past (ex. the noodle place and the bibimbap place), we’ve made sure to order ahead so that we can just do a pickup rather than having to wait.  Basically I go to work and do curbside library stuff and DH does grocery, target, and home depot curbside (and takeout about once every two months which is not enough, but we do give big tips when we go).  DH and I do doctors visits.  I did a dentist thing this summer because I needed a crown and a root canal.
  3. We’re keeping our kids home (our school district allows us to choose).  This is definitely the safe decision for DC1 whose high school has at least one new case a day and was getting more like 4 new cases per day just before winter break.  Adding to that that mask enforcement and social distancing wasn’t happening in at least one of DC1’s classes (and the teacher caught covid right after we complained to the principal) and the principal sent out pictures of sports team pictures with only maybe 3 people masked… Now that they’re no longer sending out daily emails there’s a dashboard where we can see all the positive cases at each school (only a point in time info, but it does have the cumulative number), and our high school has about 4x as many cases as the other same-size high school.  For DC2 it would probably be fine to go to school– there have only been 8 cases so far and they’ve been drawn out across the semester.  But the virtual 4th grade teacher is amazeballs so we’re hoping to keep her as long as possible.  (It is really interesting looking at the elementary school data– one would think the numbers would map with SES and ability to not work or to work from home, but while the lowest number of covid cases is the richest college professor zone and the highest number of covid cases is the lowest income most working class zone, the rest of the numbers don’t map at *all* which makes me suspect that school leadership is important when it comes to covid spread.)
  4. We are not having in-person playdates.  I am not at all opposed to outdoor masked playdates, but DC2’s friends only want to do unmasked, so we said no and they stopped asking.  Two of them do have such playdates with each other.  Naturally these are the least safe members of the group– the third friend’s mom is more risk averse and would be safer, but of course, not doing in-person playdates correlates with all those other safe behaviors.  Update:  Just said no to a zoo birthday party after looking at the yelp page for the zoo and seeing lots of maskless selfies (or chin-mask selfies) and people complaining that masking isn’t being enforced.
  5. We have two regular weekly minecraft after-school playdates set up for DC2 and lots of other popup minecraft playdates.
  6. We didn’t visit extended family at Christmas.  Once the second wave hit and especially after the vaccine started coming out, MIL stopped suggesting it.  We now have hopes for summer.
  7. For Thanksgiving we had a socially distanced backyard meal with my sister and her boyfriend.  I was super careful and made sure we had separate tables that were 6 feet apart.  We kept masks on all times we weren’t eating.  I had separate paths set for bathroom use– they went through the garage to the guest bathroom and I had hand sanitizers taped to the door to the house on both sides.  We went through the patio and used the master bathroom or the kids’ bathroom.  For many of the food items (including all the appetizers and desserts), I made sure their table had its own bowls to serve themselves from.  For bigger things like the turkey, they went through first and hand sanitized before and after.  Then I had us use different serving spoons.  I also gave them a separate serving spoon for second helpings but they didn’t end up using it (I’m a bit less concerned about this because it seems like the virus is fragile on surfaces, but still…).  It was a bit tiring having to police the distance between my kids and my sister and I can see how easily if you’re not vigilant “safe” meetings can become unsafe.  Especially if not everybody attending is as careful as you are.  It’s easier to just not, which is why although we talked about doing Christmas at my sister’s patio in the end we just let that conversation not happen in time.  (The next day my kids went in the car for the first time since … last March?-we had to adjust the booster seat-for DC2- and August schedule pickup for DC1… to get flu shots.)
  8. We’ve done a couple of sessions of Crafting with Grandma on zoom, where DC2 and MIL just quietly work on crafts together punctuated by random conversations with DH and DC1 and FIL.  DC1 also did a Crafting with younger cousins on zoom.  (As the oldest by 6 years and very good with kids, DC1 is extremely popular with the younger cousins.)
  9. I’ve started buying a lot more fancy stuff online since we can’t go to the City.  I’ve already gotten a number of you hooked on nuts.com and we’ve spent some time talking about places other than amazon where we’re buying things.  Something remarkable has as well.
  10. Ringfit, exercycle, console dancing games, bicycling, unicyling (DC1 and DH), scootering (DC2), roller skating (DC2), all around the neighborhood, both masked (when outside and there are a lot of people out) and unmasked (indoors or outdoors when there’s few enough people that the road can be crossed if we see someone; this generally correlates with the weather).  I’ve also done a lot of walking around the house watching youtube videos while the kids are out exercising because I don’t want to have to put on pants (if I’m wearing pajama shorts and it’s cold out) or socks.

Something I want to highlight is that after 3/4 of a year of trial and error:  Zoom calls that are just straight-up conversations aren’t as good for the kids as are zoom activities. Having something that allows comfortable silences is way better than something that forces kids to keep talking.  And with kids, zoom is better than FaceTime, at least for the adult in question, because FaceTime involves lots of running around the house and flipping the screen and playing with filters and basically things that are too frenetic for anyone but the cool auntie (aka, my sister, who is just as bad as my kids with FaceTime).  There are a lot of crazy things they can play with on zoom, but there isn’t as much movement of the camera itself.

Playing minecraft with friends with zoom on in the background is better than just zooming (which was what we did last Spring and Summer until DC2’s birthday got us to research safe ways zie could have a party).  Playing Among Us with DH’s brother’s kids didn’t work out so well, though part of that was they couldn’t get audio to work so everything was chat-based which isn’t as fun.

Doing crafts at the same time with Grandma works better than just talking with Grandma.  It’s almost like actually being at Grandma and Grandpa’s.  We’ve done this twice so far and it’s just really nice.  DH and DC1 stop by and chat while DC2 and Grandma work on their own things.

We also set up an origami teaching demonstration with DC1 and the two older kids of DH’s sister because Nana had all four kids and suggested we try that while she looked after the babies.  So DC1 taught the 7 year old and the 5 year old to make fortune tellers and then did a few coin tricks.

Here’s an ask the grumpies from this summer about things to look forward to in the summer (also has a list of stuff we’ve been buying online).  Here’s a “what are you doing for fun?

What safe(r) things have you been doing?  (Note:  any bragging about doing unsafe things will be deleted.  Keep your secret shame secret and try not to hurt people.)

Link Love

Wow, this link love seems quaint… we have already forgotten the scandal of him trying to get the Georgia AG to falsify ballot results.

If you haven’t called your members of congress to support impeachment proceedings and to get Cruz and Hawley to resign, you can still do that today! (or fax or email etc.) More MOC need to sign on ASAP and they’ll do that if they hear from you! They’re already hearing from the nutty people that are pretending to believe the election was stolen– they need to hear from their silent sane constituents. Even if they’re democrats, even if they’re republican. They still need to hear from you.

Read this thread—I wish I’d read it before getting my congressman himself on the phone.

Another thought provoking thread about what to call the white supremacist seditionists who stormed the Capital.

Ask the grumpies: What above-range microwave/hood should we get?

Ewan asks:

Your dishwasher-slash-grossness post prompted me to ask you to ask your (apparently well-informed on appliances!) readership: recommendations for an above-range microwave/hood? Our Kitchenaid just hit the ‘too old and expensive to be worth fixing’ point after 12 years; the kitchen really needs the microwave there even though we probably wouldn’t do it if starting over. External venting. Thanks!

Oooh, I hate the above range microwave.  We had one on our last sabbatical (that was also a convection oven) and it was so annoying.  I would pay a lot of money to just get a normal hood and then put a regular microwave on the counter.  But you may not have counter space, and it may not be worth the money to counteract those crazies who thinks countertop microwaves must be hidden from view.  (You may also be tall.)

Consumer reports talks about their choices here.

Good housekeeping favors the samsung (though tbh, good housekeeping doesn’t generally agree with other rating sites).  Bob Vila also plugs a Samsung.

The Spruce likes the GE.  The Chicago Tribune agrees.  So does the NYTimes.

So… it looks like most places think you should get a GE or a Samsung.  Probably the GE.  (Disclaimer:  We are not experts!  Do your own research or consult experts before making important life-changing decisions.)

If you want to get fancy, you can get one that doubles as a convection oven, but we never did use ours more than once or twice even though we cook a lot.  Maybe if you were more into convection baking?  But it’s still such a pain to have hot stuff so far up there.  I think we’d probably use a convection oven more if it were closer to the ground.

Grumpy Nation, what advice do you have for Ewan?

URGENT: Calls for democracy TODAY (Please call or fax!)

Yes, I, too would rather be discussing the merits of different organizational systems.  But Democracy is more important.

US citizen readers, I need you to do the following things today.

Call or Fax your Members of Congress:

Call your members of congress https://myreps.datamade.us/ (<–note:  may be out of date if you have a new MOC from the last election)— senators and congressperson and demand that:
1. Trump be impeached or resign
2. Cruz resign
3. Hawley resign

Why?  If you missed the news and were actually able to work yesterday:  These three people helped incite a riot and attempted coup which resulted in congress being evacuated and at least one death.  So far only 25 people have been arrested (earlier numbers said 13) and possibly some congressional police have been fired for their part in helping protestors in, but that may be an internet rumor.  Washington Post is calling for impeachment and resignations.  We should be too.

If you can’t leave a message, you can send a fax https://faxzero.com/fax_senate.php ,
If you can’t do that, you can send an email or a postcard (or keep trying).

Do this if your MOC are democrats (they need the support) or Republicans (they can put pressure AND they will learn that they cannot join the seditionists with impunity).

Next:  Check to see if your Congressperson is on this list of 138 congresspeople who voted to overturn a free and fair election.  If so, then call them and tell them it was wrong.  I called at 5am this morning and my congressman himself answered the phone and tried to convince me that the debate on the floor made it clear… he hung up on me when I called him a traitor to democracy.  It’s not likely that your congressperson will answer themselves (and fax if you don’t want to talk!), but they need to know that attempted coups are unacceptable.  How much further can they go?  Do we want to let them find out?  [NOTE:  IF THERE WAS AN ELECTION IN YOUR DISTRICT, your congressperson may have changed!  The new congresspeople have been seated. https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative]

After you’ve made your calls, could you ask a friend or tweet or send to a mailing list or something to get the word out so that more people call?  We need to save democracy.  There was an attempted coup yesterday.  It needs to be punished swiftly and with great strength and I’m not sure our leaders have the bravery to do so unless they feel like their constituency is behind it.  And the republicans who supported the coup need to know they cannot keep subverting democracy.

Let me know in the comments that you called/faxed!  Share any scripts you found useful!

RBOC

  • DH’s relative’s mom is the first person we know to have gotten the full vaccine.  She works in IT at a small rural hospital.  But it makes sense that she got vaccinated in the first round even though urban hospitals didn’t have enough vaccines to get all of their doctors and nurses vaccinated for logistics reasons.  This way the hospital can get everybody on staff in one round and they don’t need to worry about shipping another pair of doses to the same hospital.  MIL says that many of the even smaller rural hospitals aren’t getting any of the Pfizer vaccine at all because they cannot afford to invest in the refrigeration, so they’re not going to vaccinate until the Moderna vaccine is available.  I wonder if the cold storage units can move across different small hospitals after they get their staff done, or if they just stay there until there are doses available for patients.  If Hillary Clinton were president, her Covid Czar would have had an entire team on best practices for logistics.
  • DH’s relative’s oldest has driven across the country to move herself and her five year old into a relative’s shed with no plumbing and a space heater for heat.  (Not a snowy area, thankfully.)  CPS is going to find out and take her kid away.  Who thought this was a good idea?!??  (Not DH’s relative, but she’s in her 20s so he really has no say.)
  • Did I mention before that DC1’s science class had a Chemis-Tree?  And DC1 made a very tiny snowflake for extra credit– an origami H2O molecule?  (Zie got full points.)
  • There are not one but TWO leg lamps from a christmas story in our neighborhood.
  • On Dec 23, my sister was like, “what should I make for Christmas dinner” and I was like, “just order something” and she was like, it’s too laaaate.  And I was like, “we always have luck with ethnic restaurants even if you can’t order like a turkey dinner” and she was like, ooh, how about that Mediterranean place.  And then I looked at their Christmas catering menu and suggested stuff.  And then she got it all plus “a broccoli thing BF wanted.”  So either my sister and I have very similar tastes, she’s super tired of picking out food, or she trusts my food suggestions completely.  I think I missed my calling as Grand Duchess presiding over menus.
  • I am beginning to suspect that people who bullet journal just don’t have as much stuff to do as I do.  (A lot of their journals are completely inconsistent with GTD in that a lot of those lines could be done in under 30 seconds, so should just be done instead of being written down.)
  • I was looking at a bullet journal thread that Maureen Johnson started asking for advice on simple bullet journal designs.  And… like a third of them were just rustic hand-drawn versions of the Moleskine weekly planner that I favor.  So… why not just buy a Moleskine weekly planner?  Both the planner and the Moleskine blank bullet journal cost about $20 each… why not get the one that takes less work?  Where do they find the time to write all those boxes out by hand?!?!
  • I mean, I want to be more organized.  And I haven’t settled on a single combined system to help with that.  And I do find myself gravitating back to paper whenever I try to go digital (though Trello has definitely been added to my project planning!  It’s mostly best for smaller projects with multiple RAs though.  It tends to get unwieldy with bigger projects.)
  • What I’m currently doing is using a Moleskine lab notebook that DH decided not to use because he prefers some other company to Moleskine for lab notebooks.  (I like black hard-cover Moleskine.)  I don’t bullet, but I’ve been using it in place of the scratch paper lists and blue-lined NBER pads of paper (and the occasional google docs) I had been using previously.  It makes less of a mess.  Though I also have my weekly planner and have a stapled printed out copy of google calendar.  And Trello. These all serve different purposes.  DH takes care of putting all family things into the google calendar that warns him of things like music lessons for the kids.  It is not streamlined.  But I don’t think bullet journaling would help.  It would just take place of the lab notebook and be prettier and less flexible, depending on the system.  (There are a lot of systems.)
  • I switched to the Moleskine notebook because I found a pen I really liked from a jetpens sampler pack (enerGel Clena– it is very thin but not scratchy) and I just didn’t feel like I could use scratch paper anymore.  Though I couldn’t find the kind of Moleskine notebook I wanted (it was out of stock) and would still be using paper anyway if DH hadn’t found this old notebook of his when he was clearing out his old office.  (Now “nice kitty’s room,” while he’s back to sharing my home office now that he no longer needs to have space for things like disembodied torsos.)
  • To be clear, I’m talking about bullet journaling as a organization device, not a as a mindfulness/journaling device or as a piece of art.  I’ve got the blog for journaling(!)  And… I got enough art in middle school.  I’d rather leave that to other folks with better small motor skills and more interest.
  • Courtney Milan sent me some Washi tape.  It is the only washi tape I have, but I can’t use it!  It’s from Courtney Milan!  (No, she probably does not remember me, but I did win an auction from her.)
  • The basic bullet journal idea doesn’t seem so bad.  Maybe I’ll try it once I get done with this Moleskine (but pre-printed and inflexible!), or maybe I’ll get a vertical weekly planner with a right-hand side for to-do lists in 2022.  Most likely I will forget!
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Christmas present lottery updates

This year was the first year of the Christmas drawing.

SIL noted that MIL breached the lottery and decided that MIL and FIL are not allowed in the drawing next year.  She also said that next year there has to be a money limit.  Since we got 4/6 of the people in her family, I’m guessing DH went overboard compared to what the remaining kid got.  (Maybe he shouldn’t have gotten her an entire flatware set and just done the spoons like she asked for.)  We spent ~$50/each for the three of her kids that we got (but it may have seemed like more because Amazon always has Thanksgiving day sales) and I don’t know how much for her, but it was more (I think over $100?  She has not thanked us, so it’s possible she was not happy about it, as midwesterners express disapproval silently. But equally possible she is busy with twins and work.).  BIL’s family spent something like $30 on one of our kids (I only know this because they bought a specific boardgame expansion off hir wishlist) so that’s probably also what they spent on SIL’s remaining kid.  My MIL drew me and I don’t know how much she spent because she’s a great bargain hunter, but she got me a *lot* of Lenox stuff (she has noted I am a fan of Butterfly Meadow).  So now I have pretty cloth napkins (all amazon links are affiliate) and one of those things you put a spoon on when you’re cooking so your counter doesn’t get yucky, and some serving bowls.

So DH suggested that we just draw the kids next year and leave the adults out entirely.  We both worry that if there’s a money limit AND we draw SIL’s husband (who does not have a wishlist and we really know nothing about and have nothing in common with) we’re going to be giving him a $25 (or whatever the limit is) gift card to Amazon, which seems … dumb.  (Whereas if there’s no money limit it seems less dumb?  Even if the same amount is spent?  Logic!)  Also I think DH would like to be allowed to get his brother a game at Christmas.  MIL and SIL agreed to a drawing just for the kids.

Then I realized that if we do a drawing and just have kids, then SIL’s family will have all four of the other kids EVERY SINGLE YEAR and we will each get some random two of her kids every year.

Since BIL and my family are better off, maybe we could just each buy for the other 6 kids without having to stress out about dollar limits or siblings being treated differently or what have you.  We can keep buying books (which are probably less popular and more expensive than other presents for kids that aren’t my kids) and BIL’s family can keep buying whatever BIL’s family buys (which is board games and comic books for our family, but probably tailored differently for SIL’s family).  SIL will still only be buying for the same four kids that she would be under the drawing system.   We have made this suggestion and we will see what happens.  DH made the argument that since SIL had her kids last, there were many Christmasses in which she was buying presents for our kids but we weren’t reciprocating.  BIL agrees with this logic.  DH and BIL usually just do whatever MIL (who does whatever SIL) wants, but this time they might put up a (quiet, polite, midwestern) united front.  I’m staying out of it other than waking up one morning having thought out the mathematics of a drawing when one person has exactly half of the kids while I was asleep.

As a side note:  We have NO IDEA who drew DH’s name.  He did get a gift from his parents, but it was smaller than per usual and from both parents, similar to what they got the kids whose names they didn’t draw and less than what they got me, whose name MIL did draw (which was signed just by her).  Nothing else has been forthcoming.  SIL sent DC2’s stuff early.  BIL sent DC1’s game a bit later, but still within plenty of time for Christmas.   DH should probably have asked after he got the present from his parents, but it was before Thanksgiving, so…  We’re not fussed about it, but are mildly curious.

Link love

Right now what is irritating me is mom bloggers talking about how they know they’re taking stupid risks but they’re taking them anyway. Like, just shut up. You’re taking risks that are putting other people in danger and you’re telling the world about it. Just stop. Because people do what they think other people are doing. Stop taking stupid risks when in as little as 3 months your aging parents may be vaccinated and if you’re going to take those risks anyway, stop talking about them on social media. Let this be your dirty little secret and not something you encourage other people to do. Not when Covid rates are as high as they are in the SF bay area. Or Florida. And not when there’s a new more virulent variant just discovered in the US. And there’s large numbers of carriers who got positive at Christmas but don’t know it yet. You can wait. Or you can meet outside with masks on, especially in SF and Florida. Jeez. Ugh, I cannot even with the mommy bloggers. Like, stop being, “I’m doing this naughty thing even though I know I shouldn’t”– just don’t do it! Maybe you don’t know anyone who has died of Covid yet, or who has died of something else because the ICU rooms were too full and the health professionals too frazzled, but the more people do these stupid risky things, the more people will die. Even if you don’t spread Covid yourself, you may encourage someone who does.

Just got an email asking for prayers for our admin whose father and brother are both in the ICU with Covid.  According to our county reporting, ICUs are 104% full.  What does that even mean?  Update:  Her dad died.  I realize I am almost out of sympathy cards AGAIN.  I bought more after my uncle died last April.  This is relentless.  Please don’t make me buy another box before the end of the semester.  Protect yourself and other people.  It only takes two mistakes in a two week period to infect someone.

The Shu Box talks about her current experience in a Covid Positive household and notes that her husband had several negative tests with mild symptoms before ultimately testing positive.  (She updates that she also tested positive eventually.)

I need to go through this thread and find books and authors I haven’t tried yet!  CONSENT IS SEXXXXXY!

Don’t forget to contribute to your IRAs!  If you’re high income, here’s info on the backdoor Roth.

I guess I don’t have much to say about the New Year.  Like Scalzi, I’m not going to think it really starts until January 20th.  When it does, we need to step up and support positive change as much as we can.  Because it’s going to be a rough couple years with Republicans trying to make things as bad as possible so they can win big in the Midterms because they don’t actually care about people.  We’re going to have to keep fighting even though we’re tired and it feels like we should be able to take a break.  :(

In the mean time, for goodness sake, model and ADVERTISE your good behavior.  Hide the bad behavior you have no intention of stopping– don’t publicize it.  I mean, go ahead and tell people you’re eating leftover fruitcake, because that’s not going to have any negative effects on anybody else.  And definitely talk about things you need help fighting.  But if encouraging people to do the bad thing you’re doing ends up with people dying… just keep it to yourself.  (Better yet, just don’t do it.)  Nobody under the age of 80 should have to buy sympathy cards in bulk unless they work in a funeral home.

Ask the grumpies: Ideas for a pet friendly couch?

Chelsea asks:

I need a recommendation for a new couch. Right now we have a 12-year-old, tan, fabric-covered 3-cushion sleeper sofa from Ashley furniture. I would describe the style as “normal couch”. It has served us well but – after daily hard use by three children – it is pretty nasty. To the point that, despite replacing the cushions once and washing the cushion covers (and spraying them with pee-neutralizing spray) I really don’t like to sit or lay on it anymore. Even my mother, who never replaces anything until it is absolutely worn out, says “couches don’t last forever…” in reference to ours.

We are looking for something durable and reasonably priced. We don’t want a sleeper this time. We are trying to decide if the ease of care that would come with a “leather” sofa is worth the extra expense. I wish I liked the Ikea Ektorp because it seems perfect for us, but I feel like it always looks very “rumpled” in the showroom and like it might not hold up well. But I could be convinced otherwise. I do not like the “overstuffed” look but don’t care much about the styling otherwise. I would love to spend less than $1k but could do between $1k and $2k for something really great that would last.

I would love to hear readers’ suggestions for a family/pet friendly couch. Thanks!

We are not good people for this question… #1 has overstuffed black “leather” graduate school couches that have lots of scratches from cats and one of the pillows seems to have melted a little from before Nice Kitty got on Prozac (this is why I’m not sure it’s *actually* leather, especially since we were able to afford them in graduate school).  We will not be changing anything until our kids are in college.  #2 has a kind of standard wooden futon kind of thing.

So we asked a friend who is good at interior design.  Here’s what she says:

I have had an Ektorp for 15 years and I love it. Mine has held up great with 2 cats and a small dog (but no kids). With pets, I will never have a couch that is not slipcovered. The trick to not having the Ektorp look rumpled is to dry the slipcovers on low until they are just slightly damp and then immediately put them back on the couch – the end result is no wrinkles (this is NOT what Ikea recommends – they say their covers are air dry only – but the internet convinced me to try this). My slipcover is white and I use bleach on it with no issues. It has been peed on and puked on and looks (and smells) no worse for the wear. The Ektorp was recently discontinued, but was replaced by a similar-looking couch called the Uppland – I hope the slipcovers perform similarly.

I do hear leather is also good for dogs, I am just not personally into that look.
Hope that helps!  Grumpy Nation, what has been your experience with couches and animals?  What do you recommend?