Work, risks, success?

This is a post in drafts from 2012 that was apparently a response to a 2010 Get Rich Slowly post that no longer exists entitled, “Break out of your comfort zone to achieve success.”   I think it’s still true and I might as well post it as is!  Plus I guess a lot less seems scary at middle age that might have felt more uncomfortable as a young adult?

I’ve been out of my comfort zone before and I’ve examined what other people do in my field to succeed (hint: perseverance and moxy are more important than talent).

Right now though I’m more interested in doing what I want than in getting ahead, but the advice in the post might have matched an earlier point in my career and will probably match a later point.

Getting out of your comfort zone can be time consuming and tiring… there’s something to be said for slow and steady comfortable progress too. Moderation in all things (including moderation).

Are you currently working on getting out of your comfort zone or are you more into staying comfortable right now?

Link love

Proof that Fox News has been deliberately lying for ratings.

A neat little piece of queer historical research. (I’ve been allowing myself twitter threads off blogs…)

ChatGPT is a blurry jpeg of the web

Rich people being subsidized via credit cards

The upcoming Wisconsin Supreme Court elections are super important.  Postcards to Voters and VoteFwd are both doing campaigns right now.

Continue to have problems with reddit. I’ve also had a headache much of the week, when it has been overcast. My pressure headaches I think have been getting worse. My GP told me to keep a headache diary and I really do think it’s the weather and not hormones now, but is that even fixable? I’ve purchased a nasal saline thing (not a neti-pot, but a similar idea) and am eager to see if it does anything because it’s just hard to *think* with an underlying headache all the time.

I do think that I am able to sustain work longer when I’ve been off twitter and reddit and I’m surprised at how little I miss twitter. I also think that when I keep myself from doing these kinds of things I have a brief period of increased productivity followed by substituting with other time wasting activities. In this case though I’ve been able to watch longer youtube shows rather than just clips, so maybe that’s a good thing? DH convinced me to watch Schmigadoon full episodes instead of just the musical numbers on Youtube. I’m a fan! Looking forward to season 2 in April… Schmicago.

Ask the grumpies: How do retirees affect the economy

‘Snough asks:

News reports talk about employment/unemployment, but not much about the effect of the number or style of retirees. Are there economic theories about how retirement and retirees affect the economy?

There’s a lot of research on retirement!

Overall, government providing incentives for people to retire is bad for the economy.  People who aren’t working just aren’t as productive as people who are.  Most world social security systems aren’t fully funded and thus rely on current taxes and current debt, and that’s not great for people who are working.  We don’t know if retiring has positive or negative effects on health– there are studies that show both so either it’s complicated or we haven’t nailed causality yet.

As for the economy:  In general, recessions cause older people who are unemployed to stay unemployed or to drop out of the labor force prematurely, that is, to prematurely retire.  However, most recessions also cause older people to hold onto jobs longer than they would have otherwise and in most recessions they’re less likely to be laid off because of age discrimination in employment laws or because they have more experience and are thus more necessary to the firm.  In the great recession some of these protections were eroded.

Retirees do do volunteer work and that’s great, but they don’t volunteer as much as they worked for pay before retirement.

Some retirees work part-time, which is useful for the economy.

That’s just a general snippet, but there’s huge amounts of research on these topics and even a specific dataset (the Health and Retirement Study) just for answering these kinds of questions.


TERFs suck

One of my colleagues is a TERF and she’s been writing anti-trans op-eds for a religious journal and the school has been promoting them on our webpage.

The students complained. I complained.

We were told that the school would continue to promote her hateful op-eds and they had reviewed them and decided they weren’t dangerous, despite comparing trans people to sharks and repeating every rumor and lie JK Rowling has ever told.

I don’t know what to do. So I donate another $25 to get books about trans kids and teens into the hands of kids in red and purple states.

I want to leave this place so badly.

Related post from delagar

The onion part 1 (not really funny at all, in the way that their mass shooting headline isn’t)

The onion part 2 (funny)


Asked for a teaching reduction so I could handle everything next year

My colleague and I are the respective heads of the two main tracks in our program.  Since we were appointed heads, the workload for this job has grown enormously, and it will be growing more next year because of additional restructuring and growth at the university level.  Last year was awful and I was so burned out.  This year was awful (though I was on leave so missed much of it) and my colleague, who is not on leave, also burned out.  (He’s going on leave next year.)

So we met together with the department head about long-term planning.  We talked about the increased load and what we’re already doing and the things that we do that can’t be measured or are difficult to measure.  We talked about how our research has suffered and we’re worried about the future.  We talked about how we could take leadership positions in the uncertain future– there will be ad-hoc committees and either we can lead them because we have the time to do so or we could try our best to avoid them because we need breathing room because we were over-burdened.

So my colleague who is already doing an additional job is losing his summer salary for that job but gaining a teaching reduction (which is now worth more to him), and I am taking on a new additional job (one that incorporates some of the junior faculty mentoring that I’m doing anyway).  In a couple of years we will also be getting an associate department head to take on some of the current responsibilities that are being shared by the department head and the faculty in addition to new responsibilities.

I don’t know if this will be a one-off or if it will be for as long as we take these responsibilities, but I can definitely use the time and I’m no longer dreading going back to the grind as much as I had been.

Still, a reminder that my leave is more than half over now and I really need to get a lot more done, even if papers keep getting rejected.  And if I ever want to leave, I need to get some grant money!

Link love

This Arizona teacher’s donors choose request for books that highlight diverse experiences (including trans) will expire if not funded by Feb 25th (this week!).

Letter to NYT (correctly) accusing them of anti-trans bias

Derailing in Ohio.  Capitalism works best with fetters.

Evidence of Fox News purposefully pushing election fraud narrative in order to make profits.

Why that mask meta-analysis was biased towards finding no effect: This article breaks it down really clearly.  Basically it was just a poorly designed meta-analysis that makes comparisons across things it should not be comparing and includes masks we know are ineffective at protecting us from airborne transmission in the analysis (like surgical masks don’t protect the wearer from airborne particles and were never intended to).

A meta study that’s more carefully done on masking. “The results suggest that the classification of infections into droplet versus airborne transmission is an oversimplification. Most guidelines recommend masks for infections spread by droplets. N95 respirators, as “airborne precautions,” provide superior protection for droplet-transmitted infections. To ensure the occupational health and safety of healthcare worker, the superiority of respirators in preventing respiratory infections should be reflected in infection control guidelines.”

Plant Mimicry 

Power calculations

A method suggested for stopping getting caught in negative thoughts.

The best thing about not reading Twitter is not reading updates about 9 chickweed lane from damnyouwillis.

Still having a hard time staying away from Reddit even though there is no reason for me to look at Applying2College until mid March at the earliest, now that DC1 has been rejected from hir ED2 school.  (I looked at the rejection letter, and it was a special form letter that they only give to a subset of rejected people.  Still, I wish it had been a deferral instead.)

This week wasn’t particularly productive.  I have massive allergies (Zyrtec is my best friend, but 24 hour Zyrtec should not be taken in the middle of the night because it sets up a bad cycle), I got another desk rejection that bummed me out, a coauthor who was about to submit a paper last week went radio silent, I had been exposed to Covid last weekend but have been Covid negative (still the allergies kept me second guessing even though air filters on full blast + Zyrtec put me back to normal)… excuses all, but ones I grabbed onto.

Next week I will be better!  I have to be…

Ask the grumpies: Thoughts on Prairie Home Companion?

Leah asks:

Do you have strong feelings about Prairie Home Companion?

Not fans.  I will turn it off if it’s on or leave the room.  Oddly I did like Garrison Keillor’s morning poetry bit before we found out he was a bad person.  #2 disliked it less than does #1.

Books books books

All amazon links are affiliate, though to be honest they don’t pay very much these days.

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary was great!  A lovely feel-good book with people healing.

I enjoyed Sleep No More by Jayne Ann Krentz.  It could have used a little tighter editing, particularly in the dialogue, but overall I appreciate how modern she’s made things.  It’s the start of a new sub-series (probably a trilogy since there are 3 heroines) in the Arcane universe with the start(?) of the Drake line that you see in her Jayne Castle Harmony books and a cameo by a Jones with the matchmaking talent (but using it for jobs, not couples).  Lots of standard Krentz tropes with lost nights and drugs and variations on paranormal powers you will recognize.  Of course, if you’re a Jayne Ann Krentz fan you already know all this because you read it as soon as it came available!  But for those of you who can’t reserve books from the library that aren’t out yet, maybe you’re still on the waitlist and have something to look forward to.

I remembered first that I had DNF and then why I DNF Uprooted by Naomi Novik this time around.  It is insane to me how someone who wrote the Schoolmance series could have this book that has an attempted rape right away and then (spoilers) has the magic apprentice sleeps with her MUCH older master trope.  Also the master was *yawn* Howl/every character Benedict Cumberbach has played/etc. you know, the sexy grumpy jerk used to getting his own way and not explaining things and somehow that’s just part of his charm.  I’m hoping the MeToo movement has killed this trope and much older masters can be professional or fatherly figures and not romance interests for 18-22 year olds.  Because it is GROSS.

If this gets out by Sophie Gonzales was lovely and tightly written.  An exemplar of this genre (did you know there’s a boy band members falling in love genre?) and not painfully awkward like some YA fiction is.  Would recommend.

DNF Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fall by Ashley Herring Blake.  I just didn’t like one of the heroines at all.  I do not like meet cutes where one of the people is a real jerk.  (Slightly ok if you’re in the head of the jerk and not the head of the person who is not being a jerk.)

Boss Witch by Ann Aguirre was ok.  I liked it better than the first in the series, probably because it is most problematic with how it treats non-magic people and the hero and heroine in this one were both in the know.  It also did a good job with the third act separation, which is one of the few of these I’ve seen that makes total sense in context.  I will read the third.

Seances are for Suckers was ok, but slow going. DC2 loved it and devoured the sequel, Portions are for Pushovers, but I decided life is too short.

The Stand-up Groomsman by Jackie Lau was fine.  Not one of her best works– I won’t be buying it, but very readable.  Really stupid 3rd act breakup and the hero and heroine spend very little time together overall.  Also a bit too much banging over the head about the heroine sacrificing her childhood to raise her siblings– lots and lots of telling over and over again instead of showing.  We get it.

Who Pays the Piper by Patricia Wentworth was quite enjoyable.  No Miss Silver, but Earnest Lamb and Frank Abbot are on the case.

By the Book by Jasmine Guillory was fun.  Not as sketchy as one might worry given the work situation.  Tighter that some of her other books that I’ve read.

Magic Tides by Ilona Andrews was a fun novella.  You probably want to read the original Kate Daniels series first though.  Thoroughly enjoyed it and finished in one sitting.

Clutter Corpse by Simon Brett was odd and off.  Wouldn’t recommend– the reviewers who say it’s written by a man who has no idea how women think are probably right, though I think it’s a bit more than that– He doesn’t think like modern people do, he thinks like an old-fashioned man and a lot of that comes through and feels false because women just don’t think that way.  Plus a lot of odd drama and a very unsatisfying mystery.

Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert was a lovely YA romance.

The World Record Book of Racist Stories by Amber Ruffin was lighter and funnier than it had any right to be while still making important points.  Also, dude, do not touch other people’s hair unless they have asked you to!

I’ve been enjoying the Brandon Brothers trilogy by Stella Riley.  In particular, the second book, Under a Dark Moon, was great.  And it was especially great because the otherwise intelligent heroine is NOT too stupid to live.  When she gets a mysterious note telling her to come alone somewhere, she does not follow the standard trope of getting kidnapped!  She actually acts like a reasonably intelligent person would.  That alone gives it five stars in my mind, but there’s also other good stuff going along.  One weird thing with this author is the insistence of no sex before marriage and the standard heroine must be a virgin but hero must not be thing.  But otherwise, she’s good at having an actual plot and not just a pastiche of tropes.

There were some more murder mysteries that I checked out from the library but just couldn’t get into.  I don’t know they were necessarily bad, just not what I was looking for.  One had a crossword on the cover and was about an unlikely trio including an older lady who writes crosswords solving murders.  I can’t remember what the others were.

I’m trying to read the highest rated Nora Roberts, The Black Hills, because she’s written so many books but it really just doesn’t seem like my thing.  Not enough humor maybe?  Or perhaps I’m just not into the romantization of rural North Dakota? I love Jayne Ann Krentz, and I loved Barbara Michaels– romantic suspense has always been something I’ve gone for, but there’s probably a reason I haven’t already read all of the Nora Roberts books.  Do you have a favorite Nora Roberts I should try?

Grumpy Nation– how’s your recent pleasure reading been?

I feel like the word for this academic year has been rejection

I’ve gotten so much rejection this year.  Two papers have been rejected about once every month or two for a lot of months.

Flown out for a pre-job interview and rejected by the dean during my last meeting.

Not even conference interviews for the other places I applied– as if I hadn’t sent anything.  Is that better than thank you for applying but we’re not interested?  Maybe?

A grant proposal made it to the second stage and was then rejected.

DC1’s rejections aren’t mine, but there have been two three of those too.  (Update: ED2 rejection from Pomona.)

Heck, even my request to be reimbursed for my own copy of Stata was rejected.

It’s hard to have so much rejection without a single acceptance in between.  Not even a revise and resubmit, other than that grant that eventually got rejected.

Meanwhile my colleague who does no service but got all the internal money has gotten publications and grants.  We were pretty close research-wise when the money was initially assigned and now she’s doing much better while I’m just getting rejected at lower tier journals.

I’m burned out.  I don’t have any ideas.  I’m not excited about my current work.  I’m worried if I write it up and send it out I will have nothing left in the pipeline.  So I’m not writing it up, which is also no good.  I’m on leave and I’m dreading going back to work next year– we’re starting a new program and hiring 6 people and I can’t see me having time to do anything.  Which makes it even harder to get excited about new potential projects, even if I had any in mind.

I would quit except I’m afraid if I quit without having anything to go to that I will get severely depressed.  I worry that if I don’t keep busy I will have to contend with my thoughts and I don’t think this is something therapy would help me with.  I know me pretty well.

I feel like I should end this with an optimistic note, because I am generally an optimistic person.  Lives are long.  Work doesn’t have to define me.  We have enough saved that we could just move and I could quit without a job.  And maybe we should, I don’t know.

Update:  After getting this off my chest I actually got a paper out and restarted the next almost done project that needs to be completed.  So I’m a bit less down on myself and will be less down until the next rejection.  I still have some leave left and time to do more.  I can keep going forward!  I also met with one of my overworked colleagues and we strategized about what we need to keep from burnout and we’re going to meet with the chair next week.  I’ll let you know if that also results in rejection.

Link love

Food aid needed because of the earthquake in Turkiye..

Florida Fascism redux.


Challenge update:

Watched quite a bit of YouTube last weekend.  Slipped up a couple times but mostly caught myself.

Monday I was deeply depressed about my lack of progress and couldn’t hide from my thoughts with Twitter or Reddit.  I had to feel them.

Tuesday I seemed to recover a bit and talked to DH in the morning about what I hadn’t been getting done and why.  He sat down with me and 15 min later I had a plan.  Finally submitted the thing I’d been avoiding.  Hopefully they’ll hold onto it for a few days before desk rejecting because I need a break from constant rejection.  I also finally started reading an Econ book I need to read.

Wednesday I worked pretty steadily.  No twitter, stopped myself shortly after I opened reddit.

Thursday/Friday I was at a conference and the wifi/cell were both terrible so I had to turn to airplane mode!

I’ve been making headway in a couple non-fiction books I’ve been putting off reading.  For some reason it’s easier to read them now.