Link Love

The headline says it all.

Americans want jobs, not low paying work.

Every member of congress who took money from the NRA and tweeted thoughts and prayers to las vegas

The rest of that thread is worth reading too.

Ugh Texas

Advice for how to handle a hands-off graduate advisor

Why go curry cracker overdrew her bank account on purpose

Take that high school physics teacher who gave us a bad write-up for our Mars project because we addressed the psychological aspects (and uh, this was one of our suggestions., though for a slightly different reason..)

The caption on this one is pretty funny.

Congrats to OMDG!

If you ever wanted to see cathedrals trash talking each other, this thread is for you


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Ask the grumpies: Favorite constellation?

Leah asks:

What is your favorite constellation?

#1:  Orion because it’s the only one I can find consistently!

#2:  Doesn’t have one.  No wait, I agree with #1.  Orion is also the only one I can find consistently.

Excel vs. traditional math

Excel makes it a lot easier to brute force problems.

DC1 was doing some Hard Math for Middle School students problems with different bases.

An example of one of these:  (p.14, #8):  Find all the values of A for which the base 63 number A7894321 (base 63) would end with a zero if it were written in base 10.

The first step to approaching this problem is the same for both approaches– you have to go through the first step of mechanics of turning something base 63 into base 10.  That means realizing each place value means 63 instead of 10 and expanding out. So:

1 + 2(63) + 3 (63^2) + 4 (63^3) + 9 (63^4) + 8 (63^5) + 7 (63^6) + A (63^7)

In Excel, what you then do is you take =1 + 2(63) + 3 (63^2) + 4 (63^3) + 9 (63^4) + 8 (63^5) + 7 (63^6) and fill that down 10 rows.  Then you put in another column that is nothing but =  (63^7), then a third column that is 0, 1, 2, … 9.  In the fourth column you type = A1 + B1*C1 (or whatever your top 3 cells are), and fill down.  A final step is to take those responses which are unhelpfully in exponential “E” format and paste them as values and look at each one to see which end in 0.  (Only 6 in case you were wondering.)

To do this by hand, you will do something called “casting out 10s”.  You only care about the last number, so you don’t have to do all the math, just the last part.  So instead of the full equation above:  1 + (2*3) because you only care about the last digit, + 3 * 3* 3 = 7 + 27 but we only care about the last digit, so we cast out the 3 tens and are left with 4 to which we add 4*3*3*3, and so on.  In the end you will end up with: some number + A*3^7 mod 10 = 0, solve for A.

I use Excel a lot in day-to-day life.

Do you?

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I now pay convenience fees

Time is at such a premium these days that I just pay the little “convenience” fees that I used to refuse to pay out of principle.

It started with me deciding it wasn’t worth it to drive to a farther gas station just to not get hit with an extra fee for using my credit card rather than cash.  (And I haven’t carried cash with me in over a decade, so I definitely wasn’t going to start.  Plus, with cash the signs say you have to pre-pay for gas which means either overestimating or not getting a full tank.)

Then I started telling DH to just pay the “convenience fee” for electronic tickets at the movie theater rather than having to stand in line to pick them up.

Then I started paying our insurance with a credit card online instead of writing a check. (Though they’ve since dropped that fee. Yay.)

And mailed checks for all our small state taxes like car registration renewal instead of standing in line at the courthouse.  (Though maybe we’ve been dong this one for years…)

I’m not sure how I feel about this.  I mean, from an economics standpoint, they’re chipping away at my customer surplus through price differentiation, but it’s also rationally worth it to me to pay for the privilege of not jumping through their hoops.

And it’s true that these little fees add up.  But they add up to a dollar here or a dollar there.  Far less than the latte factor.

If we were making less money, every dollar would count.  But these dollars just don’t count anymore.  And our time and the hassle factor are just worth so much more to us.  This is another way it’s really nice to be upper-middle class.  A year of these fees is less than an hour of work.  Even saved and invested they’re not going to matter in the long-run.

Do you pay convenience fees?  If so, when did you start?  Do you notice convenience fees?

Link Love

Nobody is showing up to office hours today.  :(  But I can do the link love while I sit here since I don’t wanna do real work.

How the trump administration is actively sabotaging the affordable care act  Here’s more.

EPA and Bristol Bay

The art of avoiding a-holes

Surprising nobody

Why they took a knee

This pic is not sensitive material

Woo Illinois!

Pictures of Southside Chicago.

Check out these amazing before/after remodel pics from Jiraffe

How to save for college with multiple children

College savings vs. retirement savings

An incriptid short story

This is true.

Horizontal space

#9 is actually correct

Universe cat

These make me giggle

Feel it still

Ask the grumpies: How to deal with a needy friend

Taylor asks:

I have a long-time friend/acquaintance with a lot of social anxiety. Sometimes it comes out in small ways like saying of herself “I’m so stupid”, constantly seeking affirmation, projecting her desires onto me because she is feeling insecure about them. Sometimes it comes out in big ways like breaking down randomly in the middle of a conversation because she’s feeling socially isolated.

I am fine comforting her once and a while, but I don’t want to be her counselor. And sometimes I just don’t have the spoons to decode what she is saying vs. meaning, even in casual conversation. Is there a tactful way to signal I don’t want to be a pillar of emotional support? Or that I need a break without further exasperating her anxiety?

Captain Awkward says you can restate your boundaries.  Or you can try somewhat ghosting.  The somewhat ghosting may exasperate her anxiety, but as Captain Awkward would probably note, that’s kind of on her.  If you look up “African Violet” in the CA archives you’ll get all her ending friendship posts.  Not that you want to end the friendship, you just want it to be less needy.

With me, I’ve been in that situation I think three times… and the first two times the needy friend ended up breaking it off with me after they’d fixed themselves up a bit and I guess no longer needed me (the third time we had moved away and I kind of ghosted on email because I had had a baby and just couldn’t anymore).  Nowadays I see the red flags and avoid without getting involved instead of trying to help, because, as you say, I don’t have the spoons.  And I’m not sure I ever was much help, but who knows.  It’s amazing how nice it is not to have people around who are always emotionally draining.  (Note:  it’s different with people who are there for me too– there’s a big difference between people who are always taking and those who are actual friends.)

So I dunno, I mean, I would recommend counseling to her because her problems are more than you can handle and then back off.  (Note, friend #2 broke it off with me because her counselor told her to.  I was, apparently, causing her too much stress.  And after I got over the initial sadness of losing a friend I’d cared about… I realized I no longer had all that stress she was causing me.)

If it’s just stuff like “I’m so stupid”, we recommend the negativity jar.  But it sounds like there’s a lot more going on that simple tricks like that aren’t going to be able to fix.

Disclaimer:  We are NOT counselors of any kind, and even if we were, we would not feel comfortable giving armchair advice.  Talk to professionals and introspect before making important emotional decisions.

Ok, grumpy nation, who has better advice for Taylor?

A homemade language arts plan for school

One of the irritating things about being in a backwards part of the country is that the Language Arts classes in the public schools are pretty much garbage.*  We thought last year that it was just that DC1 wasn’t in advanced language arts, but no, it’s a thing.  K-4 was at a private school and they used standard texts and read novels and it seemed pretty much like what we had growing up in the midwest.  5th grade we did in Paradise and while it wasn’t as hard-core as 5th grade would have been in the Midwest it wasn’t so bad.  We have no idea what DC1 did in language arts last year, but they didn’t read any books as a class.

This year, in 7th grade, most of their assignments, which are done in class, are just drawing pictures and doing crafts, but it’s not like an art class where they’re getting instruction on arts and crafts, they’re just asked to do them.  At the first open house, the teacher spent her entire time talking about the rules of the course (no talking for the first 10 min when doing the bellwork, then talking with a neighbor for the next 15, etc. etc. etc.) but did not talk about the curriculum at all.  DH asked what books they’d be reading as a class.  She said they wouldn’t be reading anything as a class but they would be picking out books that they could bring from home or check out from the school library to read individually.

Later we found out that the 2#$23ing reading log is back.  We had a lot of trouble with the @#$@3ing reading log back in 5th grade.  It is @#$23ing hard for a reader who loves reading to track every minute read.

This time there are additional wrinkles.  They have to finish one book that they have chosen for this purpose each month.  That book has to be the one that they read in class during their reading time.  But they also have to read this book for at least 20 min per day, and they don’t get a full 20 min in class to read it.  So that means that they need to take the book home and definitely not leave it at home next to the bed where they’ve fallen asleep reading it.  It has to be a book they’ve never read and it has to be one that wasn’t meant for kids in 4th grade or below.  The first month, DC1 picked The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett.

It boggles my mind that they don’t read a Shakespeare play each year starting now.  That their junior year is the first year they start reading books together as a class AND it’s the same @$#@43ing terrible list of whiny male protagonists that we had back 25+ years ago when we were FRESHMEN (I guess at least they’re reading Fahrenheit 451?).  Their senior year is a subset of what our school’s sophomore list changed to being after I complained about the lack of women.  There has been no change in their reading lists in 2+ decades, and they’re two years behind what we had back at our small middle-income midwestern farming towns.

Anyhow, it came to me that although we can’t add to the experience of reading a book as a class and learning way too much about symbolism and foreshadowing and plot and character development and all those other things we spent so long on, maybe we could get DC1 to read some important books that we would probably never have read if they hadn’t been part of the curriculum.

We’re going to start with October and DC1 will be reading Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, which was part of our language arts curriculum in 5th grade, but an important book.  November we’re going to do As You Like It (I’m getting hir the Folger version that comes with explanations on every page) which we read as our first Shakespeare play in 7th grade.  At the very least, DC will have to figure out what’s going on in order to draw illustrations for their class assignments.  I’ll have to decide if we add books that I didn’t personally like but might(?) be important like The Pearl (8th grade) or The Red Badge of Courage (8th grade).

What other recommendations do you have for must-read middle school reading lists that are important but aren’t as fun as what a kid would generally choose on hir own?  Note that it has to be something finishable in a month, so Tree Grows in Brooklyn isn’t going to make the list even though I spent most of my 6th grade “super sustained silent reading” time on it.  What are kids in blue states reading in school these days?

*#notallbackwards But they certainly do want to minimize parent complaints from crazy racist religious zealots as well as parents who aren’t crazy racist religious zealots.  That’s my best guess of why there’s so little humanities learning.  There’s no problem with the math curriculum!