Ask the grumpies: Can kids have too many books? (Spoiler: so long as they’re not in danger of being crushed, no)

Leah asks:

How many kids’ books are too many?

Does not compute.

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April update

Here’s a boring update from my April Year of the Oxygen Mask goals.

My April goal was to “Clean up my damn room.  Put stuff away and keep it clean-ish.”  Did I do it?  EPIC FAIL.  In fact, my room got worse because we cleaned up the living room and some of my stray items came back in. [Didn’t you like have to clean it when you moved?  Shouldn’t that count? –#2][It was never clean at any point in that process; it was full of boxes and stuff –#1] [Did you give up your apartment deposit then? –#2] [They wanted to reno our apartment so they told us not to bother cleaning! –#1][Well, your new apartment was clean before you moved in, I bet…–#2]

I’m still feeling sort of sick and not like eating.  Nobody knows what is wrong with my medical situation.  My gallbladder is basically perfect, my liver’s ok, my pancreas and thyroid are doing just as they should.  Not looking forward to getting all the bills for specialists and testing, either.  Ugh.

I’m really looking forward to May’s hard pass on reading any links related to news or politics.  If I’m lucky I won’t look at a single twitter link.  (I hate twitter even though #2 loves it, and I’m sure she’ll still have many links for you!)  [#2 wouldn’t claim to love it, and #1 does send twitter links the other direction from time to time.]

In which DH does not have rabies but we spend as if he does

Three weeks have passed and DH is still alive.  Hale and hearty even.  We are all grateful and relieved.

So….

Remember how DH helped break up a dog fight and had to get tetanus shots and I purposefully didn’t get the dog’s information because it was an intact pit bull and I didn’t want it to be put to death?  (Turns out that is not a thing in this state– they would have just quarantined it for 10 days.)

A month later, DH came back from a business trip feeling nauseated off and on, with a headache off and on, and chills off and on.  After reading on the internet about how the incubation period for rabies is 1-3 months but can last up to 6 years, and reading up on the symptoms of rabies, and how you die within 1-3 weeks once symptoms have started (so far only 10 people have survived after symptoms started, and 8 of them had been vaccinated prior to getting bitten), he also developed anxiety and insomnia.  Which are also symptoms of rabies.  On the fourth day he started getting muscle twitches.

Early on in this process, we’d looked for places to get first of four rabies shots.  Walgreens has rabies vaccine, but not the first shot which has human blood in it and isn’t very shelf-stable.  None of the urgent care places in town had it.  No doctor we were recommended carried it.  Everyone said it had to be gotten at the emergency room.  DH’s insurance said they do not cover the rabies shot under any circumstances.  So to the emergency room it is.  This will be a minimum cost of 10K, and I would not be surprised if it tops out at 13K including the cost of the first shot.

At the emergency room they told DH he didn’t need to get the other three shots at the emergency room and recommended a couple of urgent care places or the department of public health.  Neither of the urgent care places would give DH the second shot.  The department of public health said the emergency room was smoking crack and they never give out rabies shots.  They said their protocol was to get the first shot at the real emergency room and to get the remaining three doses at the emergency room place without actually going into the emergency room and seeing a doctor in order to save $.

So I told DH to call the emergency room to make sure that things could work that way.  He called, but did not ask about the not seeing a doctor or the money stuff.  He just basically confirmed that they had the second shot.  Then he went and saw a doctor and had more unnecessary tests done.  So… >$20K so far.

I was not annoyed about the first emergency room shot, as I figured that was an unavoidable (albeit expensive) way to decrease DH’s anxiety, but I’m not that happy about the second shot given that he didn’t actually ask about the protocol the department of public health suggested.  He did talk to the emergency room billing again after, but they basically said they couldn’t talk to him about the bill until after it had been refused by his health insurance.  So there’s some hope he might be able to negotiate it down.  But who knows.

When he got his second shot, he got all the info about the shot (and the third and fourth shots) and it turns out those are exactly the same ones they give out at Walgreens as pre-rabies vaccines, so he could have just gone to Walgreens for the second shot and been done after paying $350.  Which he did for the third and fourth (and final) shots.  So $700 paid on credit card.

I don’t know when we’re going to get our actual insurance bill for the emergency room visits.  If we do end up paying more than $20K, that puts a really big bite into my car fund in addition to cutting into the emergency fund.  Which I guess makes the choice of cars easier as the options become much more limited.

So, you ask, why didn’t you just get the information for the pet owner?  It takes at most 11 days for an unvaccinated dog to die of rabies.  If the dog is still alive, then DH didn’t get rabies.

Well, we didn’t have the contact info for either of the dogs.  We posted on nextdoor (the neighborhood social media site) and on day 3 an anonymous neighbor pointed us in the direction of the golden retriever owners.  They were very nice about everything and gave us the contact information that night for the pitbull owner, but warned us that they thought the pitbull owner’s house was for sale.  And indeed it was.  For sale and empty of furniture.  DH tracked down the facebook page of the dog owner’s son which was blank, and then to the son’s wife which had lots of oversharing posts.  The posts mentioned the grandparents moving to the closest city (~2 hours) and it sounded like they were taking a dog with them, though no guarantee it was the dog in question.  But also no mention of sad dog deaths in the previous month.  The son’s wife did not respond to a FB friends request or any of DH’s queries.

We also called the agency that handles dog licensing in our county, since your rabies vaccines have to be up to date to be licensed.  But of course the dog wasn’t licensed.  So that, too, was a dead end.

On the morning of DH’s second shot, DC2 woke us up to let us know zie had thrown up in the night, the first of several throwing of ups.  As I groggily listened to hir, I realized I too felt nausea.  The nausea came and went.  So did a headache.  And chills.  All three symptoms would come and go randomly, seemingly completely unrelated to each other.  The chills were particularly disturbing.  I can understand how DH thought something out of the ordinary was happening.  (Though it turns out this weird virus has just been going around– it doesn’t last as long for most people because most people sleep instead of googling things that cause anxiety.  DC2 was better in a day and I was completely better by day 3.)

And that is our expensive and exasperating story.  My colleagues think it’s hilarious, and indeed, it is hilarious given that DH is still alive and we’re not going to have to go into major debt, just buy a cheaper car or sell some stocks.  Most insurance companies don’t cover rabies vaccines for people because they’re expensive and usually they’re just being given as anti-anxiety shots.  (Obviously if you’re bitten by a wild animal, you should get them if they can’t autopsy the animal in question.  But for pet dogs who are behaving nicely towards humans, not as clear.)

Morals:  If you’re breaking up a dog fight, use water, or lift the back legs of each animal.  Do not mess with their mouths.  If you get bitten by a pet dog, get the name and contact info for the @#$23ing dog so you can see if it dies in 11 days or not.  If you do get the series of four shots post-bite, get the first one in an emergency room and the remaining 3 at Walgreens (using a different schedule than the one that Walgreens will want to use– talk to the emergency room doctor about the schedule for all four shots).

May the Link Love be with you

Captain Awkward with A Half-Assed Activist Post About Getting Through This Shitshow Without Perpetuating Or Tolerating Bad Behavior And Keeping Some Tiny Spark Of Hope Alive

Wikipedia still has a woman problem

Russia is partly responsible for the anti-vax movement in the US via Russian Troll Farms.

Headline not from the onion:

How I stopped getting unwanted attention from men by running for president

When you can’t afford another ER bill and your two year old eats poison

Technological change has hurt non-college workers

An excellent set of links and a bit of a peptalk from Wandering Scientist last weekend.  I think it’s a positive sign that Wandsci and Captain Awkard are pep talking activism– we’ll have one in a week or two as well.  I’m taking it as a sign that my demo is starting to recover from the last election and has regained some energy to move forward, and at an important time.  I hope everyone who can will join us, if only to protect those who can’t.

Trump’s terrible taxes

I would add:  Keep the important stuff to the first three lines of the email.  Don’t assume they will read any more than that.

We’re looking forward to this!

Ask the grumpies: Masters programs

Anoninmass asks:

Applying for a Master’s program and it feels so difficult and annoying yet I cannot seem to get ahead without it….why???

Some professions have so many people interested that they can require a masters degree (see:  social work, library science, other “helping” kinds of jobs).

Some professions, particularly in government, require a masters degree that teaches management kinds of skills for getting ahead.  Management is a different skill-set than being a police officer or fire fighter and so on, so these kinds of jobs will require new skills taught in masters programs for getting promoted to management.

I’m not sure why the teaching masters degree is rewarded.  Presumably it’s teaching skills that help in the classroom?  But it’s also not required except in California, so I don’t know.  It seems to be something desired by teachers unions, not school districts.  So… I dunno.

I will mention that masters applications are down this year across the board (the labor market is tightening), so it should be easier than usual to get in!  Our masters program has rolling admissions this year which is unusual for us (last year we had record numbers).

Good luck!

List of things I need to do to take care of myself

  1.  Get a haircut.  It has been 2 years.  Update:  I tried to do a walk-in at the place next to DC2’s newish Saturday morning activity, but they were full-up.  When traveling dies down, if I haven’t gotten a haircut in a conference city, I will make an appointment for during DC2’s activity one of these weeks.
  2.  Get an eye-exam and new glasses.  I think it has been over a decade and my driving glasses have scratches.  I am also intrigued by the idea of computer glasses.  Update:  got the eye exam while at a conference at the Lenscrafters in [conference city] (everything is aok, though I’ve gotten slightly nearsighted in addition to my astigmatism; doctor says I can still use my glasses for just driving).  Will pick the glasses up at another conference in the same place later this month.  (Oddly, I think I’ve gotten all my glasses since 200X from the lenscrafters in this mall, and a good number of my haircuts.  I have several conference buddies who refresh their wardrobes periodically from the Ann Taylor there, though I don’t because there’s never anything in my size on sale.  I get my shoes in a completely different conference city.)  I also used my prescription to order an extra pair from (not sponsored!) zennioptical, which is where my DH gets his actual glasses.  Update:  have both pairs of glasses, and both make my vision really crisp.  I definitely needed an updated prescription!
  3.  Get a mammogram.  I filled out the online form for an appointment a couple weeks after my birthday but haven’t heard back.  I should call.  Update: scheduled for May 2nd.
  4.  Get tested for diabetes/insulin resistance or just get a metformin prescription.  I have PCOS.  Over the holidays plus during job candidate season I overindulged and didn’t listen to my hunger and gained weight eating all sorts of refined carbs.  Since then I’ve gone back to my regular mostly diabetes-friendly diet, but my weight has stayed the same instead of dropping like it usually does when I listen to my hunger, my periods have stopped (this could be menopause in action) but I keep feeling like I’m about to have my period, I’m tired and fatigued a lot, I’ve been drinking water a lot more, and I’ve been getting headaches (but maybe my hair is just too long).  Also I occasionally wake up with tingly fingers or toes.  In response I am going completely no-refined-carb (goodbye wheat thins, the cookie in cracker form), but I really ought to also just see a doctor for testing or medication.  Update:  diet change seems to help a lot, and when I do accidentally eat something with lots of sugar I feel cruddy and brain-foggy within an hour or so.  Still no period.  My current plan is to go back to the rule from my late 20s when I was first diagnosed:  3 months no period => go see the doctor.  That puts me at the start of summer to make an appointment.  Update 2:  diet change helped with that too… so I think I’m going to need to decide if I want to continue with the diabetes diet vs. go on metformin.  It is just hard to be careful about added sugar and refined flours (and I *like* refined flours), but metformin is unpleasant and can also interfere with B12 absorption which is something I occasionally have a problem with.  So I dunno.  After doing some youtube watching, it sounds like if you’re good about your diet over a 3 week period, diabetes won’t show up in the initial blood screen because you’re not getting the bad symptoms that show up in the bloodwork.  The fasting icky drink the awful orange drink tests should still show up positive though.
  5. Eat more vegetables.
  6. Get my skin checked out.  The problem with this is that the dermatologist office in town has a reputation for removing all moles, not just the ones likely to be cancerous, and he has a “non-disparagement” clause thing you have to sign, so nobody is allowed to leave a negative review on Yelp.  So I would have to find a dermatologist elsewhere and get to them.
  7. Get new brown dress shoes.  My current Pikolino’s half boots (3-4 years old) are getting worn down in the heel.

Obnoxious money: Standard tricks for saving money lead to spending money when your hourly wage/salary is high

One of the standard tricks for saving money is to calculate how many hours of work it takes to pay for the luxury you’re thinking of spending. If eating lunch out is equivalent to two hours of work at the call center, you might decide to brown-bag it instead. (I never understood why so many of my coworkers ate out while on break at our minimum wage job when I was in high school.) Here’s becoming minimalist explaining how we don’t buy things with money, we buy them with time. A related technique is to translate those dollars into something tangible, here’s us talking about the candy bar exchange rate, though as grownups you’ll probably want to use something like cars or computers or weeks of groceries.

Another standard trick is to add up how much your latte factor (which could be any small regular luxury expense, not just lattes) is costing you over the course of a year. At $5/day for 5 days/week for 50 weeks/year, a latte factor could be $1250/year. Here’s the frugal girl discussing this technique in more detail.

The problem with these techniques when you’re making obnoxious amounts of money is that they lead to more spending.  If the cost eating out can be measured in minutes of work instead of hours, then it seems silly to not eat out.  The cost of DH’s recent rabies scare hit home with him when I told him that two emergency room visits = 1 new car, but if we were making more money, even that cost wouldn’t be a big deal– the comparison might be a small fraction of a nicer car or yacht or single private airplane ride.  At a certain point $1250/year seems like nothing– why wouldn’t one spend that on small luxuries?

… so… should we be spending more?  Laura Vanderkam from a few years ago would certainly say yes.  (I don’t know what she’s selling now.)  Use that hourly wage calculation to loosen up on spending, especially if it increases productivity or diminishes stress or saves time.

Indeed, recently I got a glasses exam out-of-network (probably)… $130 for the exam.  The insurance company didn’t make things easy for LensCrafters, so after trying to login to the stupid BC/BS page and being stymied by changing my password and then finally finding my benefits on the university website I discovered I’d only be reimbursed 50% anyway, I decided SCREW IT it’s not worth it.  Even if they should have reimbursed me $65, even for the principal of the thing (which was more important to me back when I had more time), I wasn’t willing to put more time and mental energy into it.

Here’s a tweet from an econ professor:

Susan Dynarski makes $270,000.00 according to the UMichigan website (not as much as many of their other star professors!) and is in the 98% percentile of income for the US.  (I am again reminded of talking with professional colleagues whose families make about 2x Dr. Dynarski’s and how their view of what a vacation is or cleaning person’s duties are is so different from most of the upper middle class’s… when you make over 500K/year and it isn’t going to your mortgage, you have a personal assistant and you rent a chef to go with your Caribbean vacation and your cleaning person will put things away instead of refusing to clean if the house isn’t already uncluttered.  We’re not there.)  (In fairness to Prof. Dynarski, she’s a first-gen college student whose family was in the bottom income quartile growing up.  She’s not out-of-touch.  Even if the comments on that thread… economists, man.)

Is this rational?  Is this necessary?  Should people with higher wages be spending more based on these tricks?  Should we instead find our “enough” as recommended in YMoYL?

I don’t know.

What do you think?  And how do you feel about these kinds of spending tricks?