Not saying anything is a political statement

Some blogs are so invested in keeping their affiliates that they are desperate not to be controversial at all.  But what happens when you don’t address homophobia and you do tout Chick-Fil-A or both-sides racism and so on, is that your readership becomes pretty heavily homophobic, and pretty racist, and so on because none of the decent people want to follow you anymore.  Is it better to have your demo be the same as Fox News’s?  Maybe if you’re a grifter.

But morally and ethically, when you keep silent about the injustice that does exist in your community, you’re making a decision to accept it.  That kind of makes you a bad person, or at least “misguided.”  Use your platform for good, not sins of omission.

Here’s some twitter people saying it better than we just did:

(This first twitter quote seems to be from a no-longer existent twitter account.  But the author has this book!  All amazon links are affiliate.)

Link love

Ask the grumpies: Paying for family members’ education?

KGC asks:

I’m a newish follower and know you have written before about paying for higher ed for family members. Do you have a post you could link to where you explain more about that? (if you have explained more somewhere!) I have brought this up as a possibility to my spouse regarding two family members that I think could benefit from someone caring about their education but honestly – I don’t know where to start from a logistics standpoint or how to even potentially broach it with others. I’d love to read more about how this has worked for others. Thanks!

Well, nothing has actually worked. :(

The oldest dropped out of community college after getting pregnant after a year. The second (who turns out to be really bright and should have gone to the magnet school that DH and I went to, but we didn’t know) got pregnant in high school and never got additional education. The third got romantically entangled with a much older adult and barely graduated high school and has kind of disappeared (after getting accepted to a regional state university). The fourth is legally blind and doesn’t want to leave home to go to college even though he could. He’s now on disability. The fifth just dropped out three classes shy of an associates degree.

So basically all we’ve done is decreased the debt amounts of said kids. And it turns out we didn’t even really do that because the first kid took out a bunch of loans because she could.

I am certain that paying for school and making it known that you are willing to pay for school helps some kids. But we haven’t been successful about it.

My parents and aunts on my mom’s side have been more successful with a set of my cousins (these folks: ) and they’ve gotten university degrees and some of them have separated from their horrible parents.

How to broach it will vary too. DH’s relative is only 2 years older than DH and probably would have had the kind of life DH had if he hadn’t instead gotten married at 16. So it’s really easy for them to talk and for DH to offer to help. Plus DH’s relative is always helping people who are worse off even though he can’t really afford to, so that helping and be helped culture is useful there. I assume we’ll offer to help DH’s sister’s kids when they get older if we’re still super wealthy at that time. I’d like to stealth contribute to 529 plans, but SIL only wants to open one for the oldest (a boy) and not any of the younger kids and that seems really unfair even though all money is fungible.

Grumpy Nation, have you had luck paying for relatives’ kids to get education?  What did you do?

Internet Drama is so 2010s

After noting that honest doesn’t necessarily mean raw and negative in a comment section, I got asked by a blogger why I even look at her blog since “I obviously dislike” her.

This was a blogger who I have stopped reading multiple times in the past because of repetitive negative behavior that cycled over and over again which was super frustrating to read about.  But she’s on a blogroll and has a gift with post names so sometimes one has to click out of curiosity because of the name of the post.  (I also have this tempting-title problem with a doesn’t-realize-he’s-sexist political blogger.)

The weird thing about all this is the timing.  She has had mostly healthy posts the last several times I’d clicked!  She seems to have gotten a handle on the money stuff, a situation her readers warned her would happen that did happen finally got resolved, and she’s no longer complaining about her adult family members.  It’s probably been a couple years since I felt dirty for clicking.  And she was lamenting the loss of interesting raw honest posts since her life has been going pretty well.  Which… seems like a weird thing to lament.  I thought I’d made that point more politely than I did just now, but apparently it unintentionally touched a nerve.

I don’t know if this Chicago Tribune story is the one I was thinking of (whatever I was thinking of did talk about the rise and fall of Dooce and similar bloggers, including drunk mommy blogs and why they’re no longer “in”).  But the confessional “raw, honest” mommy-blog is not really a thing anymore.  It’s no longer cool to confess to day-drinking because your kids drive you crazy.  (To be clear, the blog I’m talking about in the first paragraph was never one of those– the drunk mommy blogs were just part of the same movement.)

The thing is, just because something is negative, that doesn’t mean it is honest.  And making something negative happen just to get points for being honest is worse! Long before the rise of the mommy blogs, we saw Sandra Tsing Loh pretty much making her professional persona about being a mess.  And when that happens, you cannot stop being a mess or you become irrelevant.  You, in fact, have to become more of a mess so you can have more “raw, honest, brave” performance art.  This is what the tail wags the dog MEANS.  And that’s why in our about statement, written more than 10 years ago, we have as a rule that this blog cannot become negative for the sake of being negative, despite its title.

These are also issues Hank Green touches on in his science fiction novels about fame and personas.  What is real, that sort of thing.

I’m glad that tongue-in-cheek (but not all *that* tongue-in-cheek) dysfunctional isn’t in right now.  People praised it as being an antidote to perfect facebook posts, but also… it was a pretty destructive movement.  Yes, some people enjoy schadenfreude, yes there will always be a group of people who love to praise “bravery” and “honesty” and absolutely adore when a lifestyle blogger has a “life isn’t 100% perfect” post.  And I’m not saying that everything shared has to be perfect and wonderful… but if life is being pretty good, why lament the lack of drama posts?  Why not just be happy that life is pretty good?  That can be honest too.  Healthy, even.

Have you noticed a decline in … “raw, honest, brave” performance art?  Do you wish there were more of those posts or is reality TV a good substitute?  Do you think that with Trump gone that less frightening drama will return and dramatic “honest” posts are just the internet’s way of healing?  Can you tell this post was written before Delta took over and the Supreme Court decided to let an insane anti-abortion law stand?  

Annual charitable giving

Political action is really important.  Voting rights are under major attack and fascism is creeping every closer in the US.  So you can and should call your political representatives and donate to the campaigns of people you want to be your representatives (also donate locally!)!  It’s just as important this year as it was two years ago or four or six or eight.

That said, you can also donate money directly to charitable concerns.

One thing I’ve been doing a lot of lately– every time I see news about Republicans trying to censor LGBT books, I go over to donorschoose and search for LGBT and donate $25 to one of the classrooms.  There aren’t many (and half are in California…).  I initially tried to look up books by authors of LGBT YA that I liked, but came up blank.  Still, rainbow face masks and pride stickers aren’t nothing.  (There are a few books, but mostly non-fiction.)  Maybe you want to do the same thing but every time you hear someone trying to ban “critical race theory” you search for “diverse books.”  Or fund teachers buying books on those banned lists!

You also may want to check in with a local librarian to see if they’ve been getting threats from organized fascists about stocking books that support underrepresented minorities, and if so, give them your thanks and support both verbally and with a donation.  (I’ve been deliberately checking out books on the new banned lists– some of them have been pretty good!  Though there are a LOT of angsty graphic artists out there who are maybe not my middle-aged demo.)

Planned Parenthood needs your money.

We need the ACLU  to help us fight fascism.

Help pro-choice women Democrats get elected to office with Emily’s List.

Here are some charitable donations pages from previous years.

Grumpy nation, who are we missing?  Where should charitable dollars be going this year?

Link love

Ask the grumpies: Alternatives to grading

Leah asks:

I enjoy teaching but can’t stand grading. I find it demoralizing when students put in very little effort. Are there better ways to grade? Or should I consider a different career option?

It’s funny, I’m fine with grading when I’m not the one teaching (in fact, it is how I got spending money in college), but not so fine when it’s me they’re disappointing.  Why didn’t they listen?  Did I go wrong?  Why don’t they care?

The ideal solution is to have someone else do the grading.  TAs are the best.  Especially when they tell you general areas in which students need more work.  I don’t let them grade exams though, only homework.

And that costs $$.

Depending on what you’re doing, you can utilize multiple choice, or fill in the blank and so on and just not give partial credit.  I don’t do that though because I feel like students should get partial credit?

You can have students grade each other if you’re careful about FERPA (numbers, not names on papers) and it’s things where there’s a correct answer, though in those cases you could just have the computer grade.  :/

I dunno.  Grading sucks.

Here’s some posts on grading motivation and pens.

Grumpy Nation, do you have better advice?


  • BIL is hosting Christmas.  Turns out that BIL’s MIL isn’t vaccinated.  Said MIL is being super obnoxious about it and is complaining that BIL’s mom is forcing them to get vaccinated, but BIL’s wife (his MIL’s daughter) is like, no, I’m forcing you to get vaccinated if you want to do Christmas with us.  I had not even thought about this being a potential danger.  So we said that BIL’s wife could add our voices to the we will not be doing Christmas at BIL’s if someone there is not vaccinated.  We haven’t stayed away from our families this long just to get Covid from some relative’s relative.
  • It’s also ridiculous because said woman works at Walmart and is going to have to get vaccinated to keep her job at some point ANYWAY.
  • We’re not entirely sure that SIL’s husband is vaccinated either, but he literally just got over covid (along with 2/4 of the kids) so we assume he’ll still have antibodies.  I would hope that he got vaccinated because their two youngest were preemies.  SIL certainly got vaccinated as soon as she could.
  • The really obnoxious people who live across the street from us (backwards, so our back yards are across the street) have installed a permanent Tump flag.  Apparently they also never took their Trump sign down in their front yard.  They also play super loud music and are constantly burning things.
  • I often wonder if we should install a flagpole and put in the American flag and a rainbow flag.
  • DH’s relative’s kid is 3 courses away from finishing her associates degree.  Unfortunately she put off 3 hard gen ed classes to this semester and just… stopped going mid-semester.  (We didn’t pay for this semester because there was some kind of pandemic program that paid for books and classes.)  She has since separated from her newly married husband, given away her dog, left her two cats with DH’s relative, and moved across the country to live with her older (half-) sisters, their children, and their biological mom and said bio-mom’s other children.  So… we’re back to 0 for 5 on paying for higher education.  The smart second daughter now has 5 kids and manages a drugstore across the country, but no secondary education.  The legally blind son did get his disability application approved.
  • DC2 finished Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry last week.  I think both zie and DH learned a lot from it.  It’s hard to express… like, the villain is white supremacy but also (SPOILERS) this Black boy named TJ who is both a villain and a victim.  And DH was like, you spend a lot of the book hoping he’ll get punished and then he gets punished and you’re like, but not in that way.  I didn’t mean that.  Not like that.  DC2 really identified with the protagonist.  And had hir eyes opened to the unfairness of it all.  It’s not something DC2 or DH would have read on their own.  It’s a slice of life and ends unsettled.  The author (Mildred Taylor) is extremely good.  (After reading it in 5th grade, I did check the rest of the books in the series out of the library.  DC2 isn’t sure if zie wants to do that or not.  We do randomly own one of the books in the series already.)
  • Now they’re doing the Phantom Tollbooth which I think is going well?  It’s much easier than Roll of Thunder and they’re zipping through 2-3 chapters a day.  Next up is A Christmas Carol and after that I’m out of ideas.  We have The Westing Game but DC2 is NOT interested.  We’ll probably just do short stories and maybe some more poetry until winter break. (We also did From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Tuck Everlasting, In The Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson, and Mrs. Frisby and The Rats of Nimh along with poetry and junior great books short stories.)
  • I understand more now why so much of our grades 3-12 reading was reading these great books from different genres.  DC2 has grown so much this semester, even just in terms of critically reading and being able to summarize chapters and pull out the important bits.  There really is a lot to be gotten out of reading and critically thinking about and discussing works of literature.  And it is terrible that they really don’t do that in this school district.  Or only do it in high school with terrible books like a separate peace.
  • I feel a little guilty that we’ve stuck with things that I read in school (though they’re still being taught in California according to the web searching I did at the start of this project).  But DC2 has read most of the newer Newberry medal books on hir own last year because we were checking them out of the library from newest to oldest.  So we could go more into depth in them with questions, but maybe not gotten as much out of them as we have been with the older works I’m more familiar with but DC2 hadn’t read.  It’s also harder to find complete lesson plans for the newer stuff online– the older books usually have several choices from schools across the country.  (Plus I think they will eventually read Holes and Number the Stars later in school if we stay here.)
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Presents for people

All Amazon links are affiliate

Sister:  She wanted a cutting board so I got her this one.  I also got her one of Nadiya Hussein’s cookbooks that we’ve been enjoying.  I feel like I should add something else because I usually spend more on her, but she hasn’t suggested anything yet and I haven’t been to her place since pre-pandemic so I have no idea what she needs.  DC2 wants to make her some kind of fresh marzipan art project, so zie has been experimenting with marizpan and ganache in preparation.  Recent discovery:  adding peppermint abstract to marzipan is *confusing* but if you pour melted chocolate over it it sort of kind of works?

Mother:  Amazon giftcard (all of the local bookstores have gone out of business again :/ )

DC1:  A boxed set of the Odyssey/Illiad/Aeneid (because zie really enjoyed Herodotus and suggested more Greek stuff, though I fear zie will be disappointed since Herodotus is hilarious), A hand-me-down Iphone 8 from DH because hir iphone 6 will soon not be working on our network and a new case with a hobby-related design to go with it, a Jacob’s ladder.  There’s also a birthday and DC1 will be getting drivers ed stuff and the awesome socks subscription that zie will probably not appreciate and will end up giving to DC2.

DC2:  Another chibi lights kit, a book on how to draw animals, metal straws for boba tea, whatever fiction books are still on hir wishlist after extended family has had a go at it.

DH:  As always zie gets 10x his weekly allowance added to his allowance.

Yes, DH’s family is doing gifts “only for children” but that mainly means we’re not exchanging adult gifts with SIL or her husband and sadly, BIL’s wife and I aren’t exchanging excellent novels off our respective wishlists (she has good taste so I used to do the shopping for her instead of DH).  But I can buy my own books!

MIL:  She filled out one those Grandmother tell me about your life books (we don’t actually like the linked one as much as this version that DH’s grandma did, but MIL chose the former) and we’re taking it to the local bindery and getting 3 copies made, one for each child.  Update:  because MIL chose the copy she chose rather than the version DH’s grandma did, the bindery said it would cost over $2K to do what we wanted.  So the new plan is that we scan in the pages ourselves, clean them up, and send the pdf to (not sponsored).  Three copies that way will come in under $200, ignoring labor costs, possibly under $100.  (DH has already done the scanning via Adobe Scan on the phone, but now we need to clean things up– this would have been so much cheaper if she’d chosen a book with rings instead of perfect binding.  If you have a relative doing one of these books who wants copies made, spend the extra money to get one where it’s easy to get the pages out for scanning!)

FIL:  Gift certificate to Cabellas as per usual.

BIL:  A three pack of heatonist hot sauces (link not sponsored!)  Probably Los Calientes, Classic, and Keith’s Chicken Sauce, but DH may surprise me.  Update:  Los Calientes, The Last Dab, and Keith’s Chicken Sauce.

SIL DS1:  Apples to Apples (from wishlist), Origami Yoda books

SIL DD1:  Two Llama Llama and two “If you give a ” books from wishlist (one of these was expensive!), Bad Kitty Goes to the Vet

SIL DS2:  An Octopus bath toy and a stacking cup/hammer station thing from wishlist, some sandra boynton books SIL said they don’t have,  Baby Danced the Polka

SIL DD2:  An electronic vocabulary thing from wishlist, some sandra boynton books SIL said they didn’t have, a Pigeon book they didn’t have (SIL was pretty excited about this one)

BIL DS1:  This kid is as impossible as ours to shop for.  By the time we hit November 6th, his other grandma had bought everything that was on his wishlist except a $30 set of sketchy looking back-ordered (and arriving after Christmas) what looked like off-brand lego minifigs that claimed to be action figures from a sketchy looking seller.  So… maybe just an amazon gift card?  Or cash?  Update:  Confirmed cash is the better option with BIL.

BIL DD1:  Sailor Moon board game expansion, a book on how to draw animals, and sailor moon reusable water bottle (all from wishlist).

Other relative:  DH was like, maybe I should get him hot sauces like BIL, but he probably doesn’t like hot sauce and would rather have the money.  So maybe just a check (Update:  A check).  My guess is that Steam is going to have some kind of fun sale and DH will buy whatever games for both BIL and his other relative.  But maybe not, since other relative’s arthritis means he’s not been playing the same kinds of games that DH likes.

Do you have any fun ideas for people on your gifting list?  Anything good on your wishlist?

Link love

Aaron Rodgers lied about having been vaccinated.

How does this inspire this ?  (I stopped reading that blog when the influencer who runs it doubled down on giving free advertising to anti-LGBTQ+ Chick Fil A and when called out was repeatedly “both sides”ing homophobia vs something unusually nice Starbucks was doing that Fox News was demonizing or vs. Michelle Obama writing a book, but I’m weak about click-bait titles on blogrolls). I assure you, if I cared about photo books at all we would have them and ours would look fine for the same reason my spice rack and bookcases and closets are perfectly organized.  (Just reread the comments on that second-to-last blogpost… I had COMPLETELY forgotten that she’d allowed her daughter to participate in a neighborhood Halloween parade in Black-face Thriller Michael Jackson and then posted pictures of it on her blog, though she did take them down and replace them with non-Blackface versions as soon as someone pointed it out.  How does a person forget that? Cancel culture is not real.)

I would just like to point out that (SPOILER) the protagonist of the second OZ book written for children in 1904 is gender fluid (if it were written today, people would claim it was an allegory with TERFs as the villains of the book!).  Said OZ book was so popular that it was followed up by 12 more and the third OZ book has the name of the protagonist of the second OZ book as the title (though technically Dorothy is the protagonist of that book).  Mercedes Lackey can go suck the protagonist who had a bird love interest in one of her books or the protagonist in love with a horse.  Ozma is waaay more interesting.  AND L. Frank Baum never had to use rape as a plot device or character development!

this thread:  You mean that stabbing pain in my lungs when I run can be fixed?!?!