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?

Grumpy Rumblings 2020 year in Blogging

Traffic is actually a little up compared to last year.  Scalzi noted this trend too on his Whatever, so maybe blog traffic is generally up with the pandemic?  Posts are up a bit (210 this year, counting this one), and comments are also up.

These are the posts that got the most views in 2020:

I think these probably show an increase in people finding our blog via googling and perhaps a decrease in conversations across blogs (or twitter) bringing in traffic.  None of these are from 2020 (which is a first– usually there’s at least one popular post for the year) and the #1 post is still from students trying to plagiarize a really common composition assignment. We have cornered the market on plagiarizing a short essay about a relative’s wedding.

According to our stats, here’s the most popular posts from 2020:

Top referring sites were:

Most visitors came from The United States. Canada & the UK came next.

Our most commented post was Spoiled rich white boys:  Sophomore English hasn’t changed in 60 years (note to self for next year:  this stat is now hidden under “insights” and is no longer on site stats) (Thank you previous self!  Also, self next year, it’s been further hidden in the comments part– you have to change to comments by posts and pages where it says comments by authors) (Thank you previous self!)

I can’t get the most active commenters for the year, only for some undetermined amount of time. :( These were the 5 most active commenters on that unspecified amount of time:

1.  Revanche@agaishanlife 45
2.  Jenny F. Scientist 44
3.  Debbie M 37
4.  omdg 32
5.  Steph 29

I think this is a first time for Steph on the leader board!

Yay Revanche!  This means you get to tell us where to donate our most recent month’s proceeds from amazon sales.  Either tell us and link up in the comments (if you want more exposure) or email us at grumpyrumblings at gmail if you want it to be more secret-like.

Any blog commentary or highlights from the grumpy gallery?  Also, congratulate Revanche in the comments.  :)

Our dishwasher wasn’t working so we cleaned it out but I’m not showing any pictures because it was one of the grossest things I’d ever seen and I would like to be able to forget someday

Last time our dishwasher wasn’t working, it made crunching noises and needed the motor to be completely replaced.  The time before it was an ancient dishwasher that the previous owners had left with the house and it flooded our guest bathroom on the other side of the kitchen and the repair person said it wasn’t worth repairing, just get a new one.  So we did.

This time, the top shelf just wasn’t getting clean.  I started scouting new dishwashers and was quickly overwhelmed with the options– Do we spend $600?  $1200?  $2500? Are these smart features going to break in a way we can’t fix ourselves?  DH, decided to take it apart and see if anything was clogging it.  OMG dishwashers are DISGUSTING.  Imagine grease with foodbits in it that is dyed red by that soap loving bacteria.  Imagine a LOT of it.  Everywhere.  I took one look and left the kitchen (after telling DH he didn’t have to do it).  But DH said he’d taken it apart and was committed.  He’s a saint.  A true hero.

And he didn’t find any specific clogs, though he did find the cap to a black skinny crayola marker (how?  clothes washer I would understand, but dishwasher?).  But after cleaning apart all the pieces and putting it back together, it started cleaning the dishes on both racks.

So… we can put off buying a new dishwasher for a while yet.

When do you decide to repair vs. buy a new dishwasher?  Do you go with the newest fancy Miele or Thermador model or a workhorse?  (Ours is Kenmore, but I think the next might be a low-end Bosch like our in-laws have.)

Link Love

That paper draft of mine is due tomorrow.  Will I have gotten it done on time?  I sure hope so!

Moved sent an update— no ham this year (…yet)!

Venmo scam alert:  What to do if you accidentally get sent $1000 by a stranger.

Ask the grumpies: Advice about hearing aids

D asks:

Some of us older academics are having aging issues, loss of hearing being one of them. Hearing aids seem to be very expensive and way overpriced at the neighborhood audiology office. What is the experience of similar folks in buying hearing aids and getting support? For example, I’ve heard Costco sells good, inexpensive “non-rip off” hearing aids- but the sample size is 2-3. Also, any experiences with insurance coverage?

Disclaimer:  We are not medical professionals!  Get medical advice from real professionals and/or do your own research before making any important healthcare decisions.

My father has a hearing aid from Costco.  He put off getting one for decades because, as you say, the neighborhood audiology office is expensive, but finally decided Costco was a good enough deal.  He seems happy with it.  So, that’s another N=1.

My FIL has the overpriced audiology version and he seems happy with it.

Both of them complain that it’s hard to separate out voices in a crowded room, and both tend to turn theirs off at restaurants or other crowded locations (my FIL tends to use restaurant time as time to catch up on napping).  Technology may have improved since they got their aids though, I don’t know.

Consumer reports reviews hearing aids, so you might want to look into what they have to say (they do like Costco’s Kirkland brand).  This article talks a bit about the pros and cons of Costco hearing aids.

In terms of insurance coverage, that will vary across plans so it’s probably easiest to give your insurance carrier a call and ask if it isn’t clear in the plan info provided by your university (or by wherever you get your insurance).  Some states only require that insurance provide hearing aid coverage for children.  Others include adults.  Many states don’t require it at all.  You can get more information here.  Many insurance plans will cover the screening but not the aids themselves.  But again, it’s something that varies by plan.

Grumpy Nation:  Do you have any better information than we have?  Do you or a loved one have experiences with hearing aids that you could share?

RBOChristmas

  • Since this is the first year we haven’t been traveling for Christmas since DC1 was born, we’ve had to decide what our Christmas traditions are.
    • Are we a big Christmas dinner the night before or the day of?  At the IL’s this is generally dependent on what our flight prices were (are we leaving on Christmas, coming on Christmas eve?) and what BIL’s in-laws in the same town are planning.  So it varies every year.  I have decided we are a Christmas Eve dinner family (and a snack on leftovers all Christmas Day family).
    • What is our traditional Christmas dinner food?  MIL favors ham.  I do not like ham.  We have decided on my mom’s garlic sage pork roast.  (I do miss the traditional BIL’s birthday lasagna though! We were very close to deciding on a lasagna, except DC1 doesn’t like lasagna even though DC2 loves it.  Which is weird because DC2 is the one who dislikes cheese and DC1 likes every individual ingredient of lasagna.)
    • I think we’re not going to be doing Christmas on my sister’s patio.  She brought it up at Thanksgiving but the weather has not been great, so I assume it isn’t happening now, given Christmas is Friday.
    • What kind of tree do we want?  In grad school we had a post-modern wire tree that folded flat because we lived in a tiny apartment.  Then later as adults with kids we would do a felt tree (h/t Leah) since we’d be spending actual Christmas someplace completely decorated for the season.  Early on we had rosemary trees which we would then plant in the yard (and would either die right away or mowers would mow over years later :( ).  Sadly we can’t just go to whole foods and pick one up, but I was able to special order one from a place on Etsy for $40 instead of the $15 it would have cost at a grocery store, had any carried them.  (The locally owned place in town that might carry them is a covid hotspot according to Yelp, with the owner basically not allowing his employees to wear masks properly because he’s some kind of right-wing nutcase.)
    • Are we an open all the gifts on Christmas morning family, or do we have other rules to spread things out?  Back when I was growing up we got one gift on Christmas Eve, which was always exciting.  Our kids have mostly gotten presents that were delivered from family as they came in the mail and they would get presents from us either the night before we left for the plane or the morning after we got back (with the exception of stockings which appear on their beds).  Presents from DH’s family were generally opened at MIL’s sometime on Christmas based on BIL’s in-laws schedule.  Since even with the lottery the kids have a lot of presents, we’ve decided to kind of spread it out, especially since they have a whole week of vacation before and only a single week after.  On Saturday we had them each open up their big present from us and DC1 spent a few hours putting together a unicycle and DC2 spent a few minutes putting together a razor scooter.  Then they went out and played with them.
    • Do the kids get to open presents without us or do they have to wait?  This one will be the same as with the in-laws– they can open stockings as soon as they wake up, but everyone has to be awake and there for Christmas present opening.
  • We’ve set up a crafting zoom with MIL.  They’re both buying the same ornaments kits from Michael’s and also the same ingredients to assemble melted snowman cookies.  We set up a date and a time (which was hard since MIL is taking care of SIL’s twins 8 hours a day 5 days a week, and actually has all 4 kids when their school is out but SIL’s isn’t).  DC2 sings, Santa doesn’t care if you’re precise, he just cares that you’re nice.
  • DH says that nuts.com knows what they’re doing when it comes to organic vegan gummy bears.
  • My sister says she is worried about my mother’s safety and is going to tell my father’s therapist so.  She is likely right.
  • I have a conference paper due December 27th that didn’t exist in any shape or form on December 1st.  It’s not done yet.  (Technically I had two papers due December 27th, but one of them already had a draft and was updated and turned in last Saturday.)  But I’m taking Christmas completely off even if I’ve been working most weekends.
  • After spending most of the summer playing Christmas music, DC1 has been refusing to play Christmas themed piano pieces (only playing ragtime) and DC2 has been playing lots of “holiday” music from the Fourth of July (“It’s not my fault it starts with America,” says DC1 about hir school’s holiday music thing.)
  • Youtube has been offering a lot more old-fashioned Christmas music to me this year which is a nice change from the same old 70s- 90s hits it usually focuses on.  Not that I dislike said hits, just, it’s nice getting more variety.  I’ve especially enjoyed the King’s Singers Christmas and the old Goodyear tire albums from the 60s.  Sammy Davis Jr. is such an incredible singer– he makes it all sound so easy and smooth.
  • DC1 is doing a computer programming contest thing.  They really like cows in their problems.  Did you know that the conference call software that cows use is called mooz?

 

Have you had to figure out any new Christmas traditions this year?

A snapshot of DH’s unemployment chores list

  1. Get and install curtains for the office.  [Ed:  this is my requested Christmas present this year so my face isn’t half blindingly white while zooming]
      1. Rod hanging style
        1. We do not want a curtain rod that attaches inside the door frame, because that will interfere with the screen door.
        2. We could use inside mount brackets and mount the curtain to both side walls, but then there would be a long rod sticking out over the filing cabinets for no reason.
        3. We could use an inside mount bracket on the side wall by the desk, and a normal bracket (to the window’s wall) on the other side, but that’s going to look asymmetrical.
        4. I think we use a normal rod attached to the same wall as the window, and it equally extends on either side of the door frame, which will put the end next to the desk almost up against the side wall, and put about 12” of space between the edge of the window and the end of the rod on each side.  To get the bracket close to the side wall next to the desk, let’s use the blackout rods that curve back into the wall.
          1. It would also be nice to minimize the depth, so the curtain is close to the wall.
      2. “Door” width 70.5” including the molding.
        1. Add 24” -> 94.5” wide curtain.
          1. Divide by 2 panels -> 48” panel width.
        2. Add ~10” -> 80.5” rod.
      3. 4.5” from the outside edge of the molding to the nearest wall.
      4. Do we need two panels or just one?
        1. I think 2 panels would look better.  We could get a single panel 100” wide, but I think when the curtains are open they will look better framing the door.
      5. Door height: 83.25” from floor to molding.
        1. So an 84” long panel? Then we set it above the top of the door and it won’t puddle on the ground.
      6. For curtain color, I think anything light or black is too extreme. Probably best to just go with brown.
  2. Fix the broken fence board.
  3. Clean the guest bedroom. [Ed:  this used to be DH’s office]
  4. Use the copper test kit.  [Ed:  Our water was strikingly blue for a little while.  We turned the whole house filter back on.]
  5. Clean the junk on the floor in front of the printer. [I suspect he means his 3d printer which is on the floor of the guest bedroom]
  6. Get the car inspected and registered.
  7. Clean out my work desk drawer.
  8. Keep the wooden boxes currently in the garage, break them down, or get rid of them. [Ed: More work stuff]
  9. Cash bonds.  [Ed: Both of our families bought us small savings bonds that have stopped accruing interest back in the early 1980s when there was a sale]
  10. Glue “Baking with Julia”.  [Ed: Wonderful cookbook, terrible binding]
  11. Ant hill by corner.  [Ed: Red ants are evil]
  12. Fix gate.  [Ed: I’m not sure what gate he means since the one to our dogrun just sort of fell over and we removed it and it’s no longer a dog run… we now have a more open concept backyard.  Come to think of it, there’s a gate on the other side that we never use that is under a bunch of wisteria, so maybe that’s what he means.]
  13. Replace the lightbulb in the refrigerator.  [Ed: One of MANY lightbulbs that heard DH was going to have a bunch of free time and decided to die]
    1. Ordered replacement.

 

I have no questions.  But it is nice having a highly qualified personal assistant!

Link Love

Another busy week.  And today I have a writing date with a coauthor!  (Starting in one minute!  I’d better zoom!)

Here’s a tear-jerking story from Bitches Got Riches.  After elementary and middle-school bullying and isolation I definitely became a more the merrier person and connected lots of people and so on.  But into middle-age I’ve become a lot less that person and am much more isolated… I want more solitude.  I don’t go to social events and don’t get invited anymore either.  And I’m ok with that too.  And I’m more cognizant of the “missing stair” and “geek social fallacy.”  So, I dunno.  I used to be a nicer person who liked lots of people, and now… well, not as much!

I know I should have some politics stuff here, but I’ve just been crazily overtaxed with work.  : (   Maybe wandering scientist will have what you need?

The Elf on the Shelf bit in the below totally made me laugh out loud, and then I made DH watch it and he laughed too though in a more subdued manner.

Ask the readers: What edition of the complete works of Shakespeare should I get?

Dear Grumpy Nation:

DC1 hasn’t been getting enough Shakespeare.  I would like to ameliorate that.  I, myself, had a lovely hardback version of the complete works of Shakespeare that was beautifully annotated so that I could easily figure out what was going on while still seeing the natural beauty of the words themselves.  I would read it on days I was home sick from school and had nothing else to do (also how I read Ivanhoe and several other classics my mother placed strategically in the small bookcase next to my bed).  Sadly, all I remember about it is that it had a navy blue hard cover– it appears to have disappeared from my parents’ house in the 20 years I have been away from it.

I have gone to Amazon to seek a new anthology and I am overwhelmed by the options.  I do not want a kindle version– I want something nicely edited and easy to read the annotations/explanations along-side the original words.  Hardback would be nice, but that’s not a deal-breaker.

There are so many choices and so many different price points I don’t even know where to start.  I’m willing to pay for the $75 Norton edition if it is, indeed, the best for our purposes.  But if the $30 Oxford Works is better, by all means I’ll go with that!

I know we have experts on this topic in our readership, so help a lay-person out!  What would you recommend?

Thanks in advance!