My addictions

This comic describes the story of my online life.

Here I am going to bare my soul to you.

Beware all ye bloggers lest the blog consume you.  So says #2 to me as she forwards on said comic.  What she forgets is that it has always been like this for me.  Thank goodness I never got into online games, though I did have a brief stint with Furcadia in college.  Luckily it didn’t interest me all that much.  There is, however, a reason I don’t play regular computer games and even minesweeper is not allowed on my computers.

I think my first trap was the Chronicle of Higher Ed forum.  It was young.  I was young.  People thought I was a white male tenured full professor.  I spent a lot of time on it dispensing my wisdom.  Way too much time.  Luckily the moderator screwed up one day and let everybody’s IP address become known and that got really creepy (there were a couple of incredibly scary members), so I quit cold turkey.  I had to jimmy my computer, going deep into its electronic entrails to block the website to prevent me from accessing it.  Many times I would automatically go to the site only to see the blocked message.  Ah, commitment devices.  Without you I would probably have died of dehydration and malnutrition.

Next up, an infertility forum.  I got kicked off (after baby was born– so I’d gotten what I needed, and was mostly dispensing my wisdom about very different things than I had on CHE… not so much ttc and bf on CHE…  ;)  ) because I was also on a mother’s forum that the owner of the first site didn’t like.  I had thousands of posts before that fateful day.  The mother’s forum I left on my own because they’d had a third forum where they discussed people on the mother’s forum not nicely, and when people found out the drama surrounding it was just too much (I’d actually been invited to join when the exclusive third forum started, but as a commitment device opted not).  So I left.  They still email me on my birthday, which is kind of weird.

Briefly I toyed with LibraryThing and though I love its cataloging and abilities to tell me what books I need, I have not really been sucked in.  It gets to stay.

In a new town, I joined another forum and got invited to an exclusive members group local to my area IRL.  It doesn’t update so often, so I don’t really have a problem with keeping it.  Related was a natural parenting group I got invited to, but I’ve already posted about why I had to leave that one.  (Blue children?  Ick.)

So my latest online addiction?  Blogging.  We’ll see if I can keep it to a manageable pace or if it too will need intervening (interventioning?). Every time I drop an addiction I’m happier for a little while.  Then something new starts up.  Usually slowly in a limited fashion.  But eventually it takes over.  So there you have it.  It is amazing that I have accomplished as much as I have given my addictive personality.  If only work could be so addicting. Right now I’m doing fine with blogging… it’s cutting into my anime-watching, internet surfing, and novel reading time, but doesn’t seem to be affecting work, family, or other responsibilities.  Hopefully #2 will cut me off if I go too far.  Or DH will install one of those time limiting thingies on my computer so the page turns off after a certain amount of time.

Is that too much soul-baring and not enough witty observation?  Quick,  #2, say something funny!

#2 says: you spelled “bare” your soul wrong in that last sentence. Until I fixed it, an Alaskan brown bear was coming for your eternal soul. Rawr.

#1:  He was going to ravage it.

Do you (or does someone you know) have problems with electronic addiction?  What do you do besides going cold turkey?

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link love

ICYMI….

Republican controlled state governments keep blocking people from voting even after courts ordered them to stop.

Indiana police interfere with voter registration efforts by request of Republican politicians.  Seriously.  This happened.

F*** Wisconsin.  Seriously.  F*** it.

Issue 1 is key here

Trump brags about how he can get away with sexually assaulting women because he is rich and famous (audio from 2005).

Btw, did you know that Trump has been accused in court of sexual assault at least 3x?  The make-up artist’s story sounds eerily similar to his 2005 bragging.  (The other two were rape accusations from Ivana Trump and the current court case about child rape.)

Trump said the Central Park Five, who were falsely accused of a rape they didn’t commit, who he took out ad space against at the time, who were exonerated by DNA evidence, he said they were guilty.  On Friday.  This past Friday.  He said innocent black men were guilty of a crime they had been proven not to have committed.

Trump says soldiers with PTSD have it because they are weak (this is not true).

Trump says he would use his power of the presidency to punish nations like China if they denied things to his businesses.

How Trump got a middle-class tax break.

How Trump “lost” 916 million and avoided tax.  (An earlier post on the same topic.)

Trump’s bankruptcy lawyers say they had to meet with him in pairs to have a witness because he lied so much.

Republican Ana Navarro takes down a Trump apologist.

Michelle Obama is really good at throwing shade *tap tap tap*

Josh Marshall on the increase in antisemitism he’s been on the receiving end of since Trump’s campaign started.

A Donald Trump supporter sent a triggering video to a reporter with epilepsy in order to induce a seizure.

Secret service had to help escort the mother of a disabled child out of a Trump rally because Trump supporters were threatening her.

Now the Germans are using Trump videos to parody Hitler.”  (Make your own Hitler video…)

Clinton reminds them of their first wives

Clinton should “leak” her policy discussions from fundraisers.  Maybe the press will notice them if she does.

NYTimes writes puff piece on behalf of Trump campaign.

Do not hamstring the first woman president

Calling out racism is not insidious

Schadenfreude

Scotus

A poem that explained mansplaining before the term was invented.

Why everyone loves to tear women down.

This is an old one but bears repeating:  about the mom-bob

LeBron James endorses Hillary Clinton for president

Gary Johnson argues his problems with geography are a benefit

Medical marijuana means that older men work longer?

How beige took over as America’s indoor paint.

Hillary Clinton and popularity.  Really cool graphs.

Hillary Clinton shares the story of a bad childhood haircut.

Wandsci should stop making me cry with her links

John Scalzi talks about writing for audible and how it is different

Contemplative

Academics anonymous, am I an addict?

This is outstanding

spider

sports bra research

Machine learning vs stats

#thatmexicanthing

Elephant Gerald

February Mortgage Update: Mortgage misconceptions or why you should not get your financial advice from the MMM forum

Last month (January):
Balance:$15,645.52
Years left: 1.166667
P =$1,147.93, I =$66.47, Escrow =$809.48

This month (February):
Balance:$14,493.05
Years left: 1.083333333
P =$1,152.47, I =$61.93, Escrow =$809.48

Amount saved from prepayment:  $0

Because of my addictive personality, I’m not allowed to join any forums.  That doesn’t mean though that I don’t occasionally read fora even though I can’t participate.  Occasionally I have to say something, and since I’m not allowed to join, the something gets to spill over onto the blog.

In this case the forum in question is Mr. Money Moustache’s, and the “someone is wrong” thing is a few misconceptions about mortgages.  I know we’ve written about them before, but they obviously bear repeating!

  1. Mortgages work differently than student loans or credit card debt because they keep the payment the same each month and just remove months off the end with pre-payments.  That means that payments early in your mortgage are worth more than payments later in your mortgage because the mortgage, unlike other investments, doesn’t reamortize each month.  That means the amount you’re saving from pre-paying is different depending at what point you’re at in the mortgage.  You can see this by looking at an amortization spreadsheet, like this one from GRS.
  2. A common misconception is that you are increasing your risk pre-paying the mortgage because you can’t get the money back in an emergency unless and until you pay the entire thing off (and thus finish your mortgage payments).  That’s not actually true.  If you prepay your mortgage, you can, in an emergency, re-cast/re-amortize for a small fee (usually ~$250) and get lower monthly payments by lengthening the amount of time that you continue paying on the mortgage.  For example, right now my mortgage payment is a little over $2000/mo with 1.08333 years left.  If I re-amortized, my payment would be just a little bit more than what I’m paying for escrow, but I would be paying that sum over 13.4 years instead.  (And I have to pay for escrow even if the mortgage is gone!)  All that pre-payment means that in an emergency I can cut my monthly required payment, even though there’s still time left on the mortgage.  You don’t end up with quite as much ready cash so if you’re expecting an emergency you should keep it, but if the emergency is a low-probability event that may happen after years of pre-payment, you can likely recoup enough in lowered payments to get you through for quite a while.  [note that if you have a nonstandard mortgage, the rules may be different — you may not be able to as easily reamortize an adjustable rate mortgage.  Check with your lender if this is a concern. ]

Are there any money misconceptions that bother you?  What do you do when someone is wrong on the internet?  Do you belong to any fora?

Why do we blog?

A good question posed by undine.  Or at least, the purpose of the blog can’t change unless there was a purpose to begin with.

We started the blog on a whim.  Apparently one of us wanted money, though that has not happened (or not yet happened).  Money takes effort.  And possibly some dirtying of the soul.

The goal was to become famous on the internet.  I suppose we’ve picked up some moderate fame.  There’s a lot more fame out there, but whenever we generate a bunch of hits we tend to feel like it’s time to tone down a bit.  Too much fame can be scary.  (Though it would be nice to get oodles of money just for being… still, dividends are a more comfortable way of doing that.  If only we had a huge pot of cash to start with!)

Early on we searched for some meaning or some reason for our rumblings.  But really it’s just a hobby.  One of us has addictions and the blog is just the latest in that.  If not blogging, then it would be something else.  So far blogging hasn’t been dangerous (yet).  It does seem to be an excellent method of procrastination, especially while one is say, running pokey statistical programs.

So to sum:  We don’t really have any good reason for blogging.  We’re not trying to quit our day-jobs or change the world or gain deep insights into our innermost beings.  Apparently it’s just a hobby without any purpose.  Well, that and, of course, we get to interact with all our fantabulous readers!

In fact, we are sure much of our esteemed blogging readership are answering higher callings!

FeMOMhist even has a syllabus for her blog!  w00t!

Why do you blog (if you do)?  Or why don’t you (if you don’t)?

 

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Link love

Time = Money: A product plug

We got nuthin’ for today’s money post.  We have a lot of half-finished posts but no energy.  Work and family life are getting in the way for both of us this semester.  This post is about a product to help you put work and family life first, if those are your priorities.

Anyhow, one side of the “spend less than you earn” equation is earning more.  In our field keeping your job depends on productivity, and in these lean times, getting a raise is often tied to how attractive you are to outside organizations.  If I want a raise, I need an outside offer (presumably one I’d be willing to take).  (#2 has no hope of a raise, outside offer or no: my school won’t match, and there hasn’t been money for merit raises in over a decade.  It’s a good thing I’m filling all my time with my partner, instead.  And, you know, getting tenure.)

Regularly updating a blog when one is supposed to be doing research/class prepping/writing etc. is not conducive to staying productive.  Maybe small amounts of internet surfing can increase productivity, especially in regular break-times, but in general, feeding a blog keeps work from getting done.  So does reading CNN or whatever your internet habit of choice is.

If you have an addictive personality, these habits can be hard to break.  You need a commitment device.

Enter:  Leechblock.  This is a Mozilla add-in.  I wanted something that would allow me to set the times for working and the times for playing.  I wanted to be able to say:  No spending 3 hours on the internet in the morning– I don’t *want* to get up at 5am, I want to not be allowed to play on the blog at that time.  I want to work between 9-12, play from 12-1, and work again except for a 15 minute break the rest of the afternoon.  Then free-time after work.

Leechblock allows that.  It also allows you to be cut off from a site after a set amount of time… no more than 15 min or 30 min etc.

I spent a lot of time the first few days getting the same blocked screen.  Then instead of spending 15 min to an hour pleasantly diverted from the task I was avoiding, I would spend about a minute and then I’d go back to doing something productive, maybe not the same thing, but something off my to-do list.  That makes me happier about my work-life, but also leads to a much shorter queue in the blog.  (We may have to stop daily updates one of these days, which I understand is part of the amateur blog cycle.)

Of course, nothing interesting ever happens on the internet when I’m not there (obviously the only interesting stuff is reactions to things I’ve said(!)), or other people have made the points I was going to make so there’s no point in repeating.  So my evenings have been less full of internet and more full of family as well (filling them with work, so far not happening).  And we’ve been going to bed earlier (though a lot of that is having to get up for classes earlier than in previous semesters).

Do you have problems wasting time when you’re supposed to be working or enjoying life?  What kinds of things do you do to keep on track?

[Disclaimer:  leechblock is a free program and they don’t know we exist.  We don’t do paid product placement.]

Breaking an addiction

Disclaimer:  I have no knowledge or expertise in the area of addictions.  If you have a true addiction, especially one of a chemical nature, please seek professional help such as a therapist.

I talked in a previous post about my addictions.  Lately there’s just too much drama, so at the urging of #2, who is continually baffled at hearing me whine, even if it results in entertaining blog posts (and lots of hits!), I’ve been attempting to wean off the latest forum.

Usually in these cases the best thing to do is to just quit cold turkey, to cancel my account so I can’t log in even if I wanted to.  Then I might be able to read the forum, but without actually being able to participate it’s not as addicting.  In this specific case I really don’t want to do that because I can’t read this forum unless I have a login and on a few occasions it has been much more efficient to ask a question or search the forum than to ask the internet.  I have a general idea about who has good information and who is a crackpot.  There’s also a few threads with very useful information that I don’t want to lose access to if I need to look something up on those particular topics.

So the next thing to do is to make it more difficult for me to access the forums.  I did this with the Chronicle back in the day, blocking access completely from my work computer.  I’d go to the page and it would say I wasn’t allowed to access the page.  Disabling that was a PITA.  Sadly Windows has upgraded and I can’t use the same method to do that.  I can block from IE or Firefox, but that block is WAY too easy to disable.

In this case, I logged out, deleted my cookies, cleared the cache, and forced myself not to type the URL on my work computer.  On my home computer, I only allowed myself to type it on IE and I deleted all traces of having been there after visiting the page, so I couldn’t just go back in with the click of a button or two.

It was really hard not accessing it at first and I sometimes bypassed my controls to get in.

I allowed myself to check it every few days, then longer periods of time.

And the sad secret to these forums is, no matter how long I spend on them when I’m active, nothing interesting happens on forums when I’m not there to participate.  This was always a sad discovery when I’d been on vacation without internet for a few days, and it’s just as sad when I try to break an addiction.  What have I been spending all that time on?  Nothing.  Sigh.

Of course, immediately I try to find substitute addictions.  Our blog queue is bustling.  Get rich slowly got a few extra arguments in that it would have escaped had I still had a forum to “spread my wisdom” at.  Blogs have been commented on.  I’ve been checking out another forum, much to #2’s consternation, that I will not and have not signed up for.  I can already tell that one guy on there is a sexist bastard with major issues (just like on the Chronicle forums, joyeaux!) and a woman on there seriously needs to get therapy for herself no matter what she thinks is wrong with her daughter (just like on regular mothering forums!).

On the plus side, I’ve read a lot more novels than I usually do and reading novels is more fun than getting into online arguments.  The house is also a bit cleaner than usual, though a lot of that was Spring break.

#2 supports you through this arduous process, and deeply encourages use of novels.

#2 is also becoming a fan of changing habits using behavioral techniques that don’t rely on willpower.  Willpower is hard. An example of such a technique: making it physically impossible (or at least hard) to do that thing you want to do but shouldn’t.  That lessens the strain on your willpower, and #1 did that admirably.  Even logging one’s behavior can often lead to change, which is why food diaries are a component of so many successful healthy eating plans.

Getting social support for change (hello, accountability web page!) and distancing yourself from temptation can also work too.  Finally, course, you could distract yourself by replacing one habit with another (oops?).

Commitment devices are also awesome.  NaNoWriMo recommends making a bet with a friend: whoever doesn’t meet their goal has to do something awful, such as doing the dishes for a month or shaving one’s head.  Having a consequence already in place that you have to work to stave off — now that’s motivating!  My favorite idea for big, hard, important goals is another one I stole from the NaNoWriMo book (#1 notes, and THEY stole from Dean Karlan… that he stole from Boice…): Write a check for a large-ish amount of money to an organization you hate.  If you are a republican, write it to the democratic national party, or vice versa.  If you are pro-life, write it to NARAL.  Etc.  Sign this check, put it in an envelope, address and stamp it.  Give the envelope to someone trustworthy.  If you meet your goal, the person gives it back to you and you tear it up.  If you don’t meet your goal, they mail it.  Aiee!

Do you have any legal addictions?  How do you break them?  What do you do with your time once you’ve broken them?

Why I’m not a guilt-stricken mother and why I have it all and why the patriarchy sucks

I typed out an incredibly thoughtful and lengthy response to microdro’s repost of this post from Dr. Isis… but it got eaten by blogger, and when I hit the back button it was gone.  I hate when that happens.

Anyhow.  The post is one of those standard posts about how working moms’ lives suck because they’re doing all the housework on top of bringing home the bacon and feeling guilty because they’re not perfect housewives on top of everything else.  Yet another book has been written on the subject.  I think it’s some kind of Jungian internet archetype.  In her review post, Dr. Isis quotes the claim that we’re the first generation to experience this problem (though she notes that her husband does half the housework).

The NYTimes and mother’s forums etc. repeat this pattern as one of their incredibly popular and frequent pet rich people problems, and it strikes a chord with so very many married women with children, who share their own stories of woe (more so even than the sad stories about having to sell the French Villa).  Usually in these sad tales their husbands are more additional children than help-meets.

I just roll my eyes.

Yes.  I roll my eyes.  I roll my eyes at the pain that apparently millions of professional women are facing today.  I don’t even sympathize.  And I damn well don’t think this is the first generation where women both work and take care of things at home.  And if I didn’t read these stories from time to time and if I could just wean myself off the mother’s forums, it wouldn’t even cross my mind that these are actual issues that I was supposed to be worrying about.  (#2 continues to wonder why #1 keeps reading these fora.)  (#1 is working on it!  Addictions are hard!)

See, I come from a long long line of lower middle-class working women.  My mother was a (humanities) professor.  My grandmother was a nurse.  My great-grandmother was a widow and school principal (widowhood got around marriage bars).  Before that it was farm wives and pioneer wives and women who definitely put in a full day’s market work.

With each increasing generation we’ve married husbands more and more capable of helping out with the housework, even traditional woman’s chores.  My mom got oohs and aahs because my father cooks.  That wasn’t enough for me.  I married a husband who truly is an equal, who also had a working mom (who herself had a working mom) and a father who did his fair share of housework, even the stereotypically female stuff.

We’re not afraid to “hire good help” as my grandmother liked to say.  We don’t put up with doing everything ourselves.  Everybody has to pitch in.  Husbands.  Kids (including all 7 of my grandma’s).  Everyone.  Or else it doesn’t get done.

One of the most precious gifts my mother gave me was the gradual transition she made from one of these stereotypical Dr. Isis’s book’s guilt-mothers, first spending each Saturday cleaning (while I watched the original Star Trek) to a much happier more laid back mother who made sure that everyone pitched in when chores were to be done and only insisted on spotlessness if company were coming (because Cleaning for Company is Polite in the Midwest).  Not only can I live with clutter, but I don’t feel guilty about it (#2 doesn’t either!).  There’s many more important things to do than clean.  Like spend time with your kids, or work as an activist, or read mystery novels, or, sadly, grade papers.

When I bring homemade food to a function, it’s because my DH or I like to cook and we want people to have the pleasure of good food (because food is love in our Midwestern ways).  It would never ever cross our minds to bring homemade food so that people don’t look down on us or whatever.  I can’t imagine anybody but the smallest-minded person judging for bringing store-bought brownies, and who cares what small-minded people think?  Now that we’re out of middle school we don’t have to associate with them!  (Though now I feel guilty that maybe we’re making neurotic people feel bad about themselves.  Maybe they should just enjoy the cookie without taking it as a statement of their worthiness.)

Of course, lots of people are still hung up on working full time and being perceived as Martha Stewart on top of that.  They get decidedly uncomfortable when I say one of the most freeing things for me is the ability to live in squalor, so long as nothing is growing mold (I do insist on clean kitchens and bathrooms).  But that’s their problem, not mine.  The world would be a better place if nobody freaked out over a little clutter (and there would be less clutter if people didn’t spend so much time buying junk).  Married couples would get along better.  Families would spend more quality time together.

So yes, I have balance.  My husband does his fair share or more.  We all do chores together, because Carol Channing told me that’s the right thing to do.  Our work is important.  Our family time is important.  Good food is important.  Appearances are not.

So my advice:  If you’re middle class, partnered, and not balanced: hire a cleaning person, stop being a martyr, and loosen up.  Change what you don’t like or change your attitude.  Nobody (with means and health) has to be miserable.

I blame the patriarchy, but I don’t have to let it keep me down.  Fight!

Also, read Your Money or Your Life.  It will change your life for the better.

The mommy boards are making me sad again

They’re all fighting with their husbands.

They tell each other it’s normal. All marriages go through these kinds of issues.

I really like being abnormal. I like having a husband who doesn’t take his stress out on me. I like having a partner who eases a burden rather than adding to it. If my partner purposefully caused me stress, I think I would probably be happier being single. Not 100% sure, but I like to think that I have high standards and wouldn’t be too uncomfortable in my own skin even if it meant I had to clean out the cat litter every night.

Of course, I can’t comfort these ladies. I can’t make up problems. I can’t give advice (or rather I could, but I’m fairly sure my head would be bitten off… the other woman on the board who actually gets along with her husband and has a well-behaved kid has tried in the past, and it wasn’t pretty). I don’t like fighting. I like problem-solving. I like using “I” words and “we” words. I like appreciating my husband and having him appreciate me. I like feeling like we’re on the same side.

I wish everybody had as good a relationship as we have. Maybe it was the years of having roommates that forced good roommate skills. Maybe we’re just romantics and totally believe in love and trust. Maybe it’s because #2 schooled me in communication without confrontation in high school (even though she often chose not to use it herself!) Maybe we got all our fights out the first 4 years of our relationship when we were teenagers.

Anyhow, I just wanted to share that it makes me sad. And I hope I’m not the only person who rarely fights with her spouse and likes not doing so. (I know of some folks who never fought and divorced because the marriage was too boring. But we prefer positive excitement in ours– mostly food related.)

#2 wonders why #1 continues to read angst-ridden fora.  Perhaps it’s hard to find non-angsty ones?  Has #1 tried Offbeat Mama? Perhaps she can’t look away?

#1 reminds #2 of her addictions.  This is the legacy forum.  I’m always trying not to start another!  (Though I may have to get off the forum… one woman on there is totally passive aggressive and I don’t think she has ever said anything to me… a bunch of people wish her luck for something, she thanks them one by one and deliberately excludes me… a number of folks say their kids are sick, every one gets a hope you feel better except me… everyone who says something gets a reply, except me.  This is the woman I blogged about earlier so I’m pretty sure it is deliberate.  And I just don’t care enough about drama to confront her, so much easier to leave.)

Do you think couples have to fight? If someone actually asked for advice (they never do… they just want to complain), what would you suggest?