RBOC

  • Another unexpected death this year… Werner Troesken passed away last September and I just found out. I feel like I was just talking to him about being interviewed by reporters about Flint.  (He’s an economic historian with an amazing book on the effects of lead solder in water pipes.  Other fantastic books about segregation etc. as well.)  People are dying too young.  I had never met Devah Pager or Alan Krueger (though I have read so many articles by both and had seen Krueger give talks), but Werner I knew and liked as a person.
  • It’s a little weird seeing old “faces” on the internet and remembering when everyone was saying, “NOooooo do not do that stupid thing with your money”… and then they did anyway, and now the thing that everyone said could happen did happen and the person is in bad shape because of it.  I think it’s more sad than schadenfreude, but also, do not do stupid things with your money.  And don’t be a jerk when you ask people for their advice and don’t like what they say.
  • DC2 fractured hir wrist in two places falling off the monkey bars.  :(
  • One of the things I hate about being a woman is how journal editors and occasionally referees will use any even marginally related previously done paper as evidence that the paper I’ve submitted is not novel.  Even if all it does is use a related novel technique looking at a completely different question.  Or uses the same dataset for a completely different literature.  When I’m refereeing guys papers that never ever gets said by the other referees (or me).  It’s like the initial assumption is let’s find any reason to reject, even a flimsy one.  It’s such a hard bar to pass.  Women’s papers have to be more than perfect.  I see this in refereeing all the time and it’s so unfair.  I hate it when it happens to me.  And big name guys can submit stuff that does the most minimal of lit reviews and provide no spec checks and somehow their stuff gets sent out and negative referee reports often get overruled.  It is just unfair.  And I’m not good enough to get over that hurdle.  I can’t get the line just right.  I put so many checks in footnotes.  And it takes me forever to do all the checks I need to put in in order to get the paper not rejected by an editor and to get the writing so it is concise but also contains enough material while also not having so much people overlook things (I have not managed this balance yet for all reviewers), and by the time I’ve done that, someone else has published something marginally related, and that’s enough of a reason not to accept what I’ve done.  So why did I bother in the first place?  And when the paper is finally accepted, there’s enough cut out to publish a second paper in another journal.  Though it has to be a lower quality journal because, of course, I already used that dataset or looked at a different subset or whatever.  FML.
  • our local library’s opening has been delayed until September.  Apparently the city counsel delayed ordering furniture and are now at the end of the furniture buying queue behind all the school districts.
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RBOC

  • Can I say again how much I hate it when people mess with kerning on grant applications?
  • My (recently retired) FIL called DH to tell him to be sure to put money in IRA Roths.  DH told him we’ve got that covered.
  • DH helped break up a dog fight that happened across the street from our house (intact pitbull being walked by a ~10 year old girl slipped its halter going after a Labrador) and got bitten.  :(  He had to get a tetanus booster and 3 days worth of topical antibiotics. The dog was super friendly to humans, but accidentally got DH’s finger as DH was trying to help the laborador’s owner separate them.  The woman who owns the Labrador stopped by our house to say her dog had to undergo ear surgery and that the pitbull’s owner (the grandfather in this scenario) was a total jerk and wanted to know if we’d seen how the fight had started, which we hadn’t.
  • My January conference reimbursement for doing job interviews for a position in our department was audited because I bought $21 of folding chairs and left them there instead of flying them back to the university.  (The chairs were because the hotel ran out and we didn’t want the job candidate sitting on a bed with the interviewers(!))  Fortunately I didn’t believe the hotel when they said that getting extra chairs wouldn’t be a problem (hence neither reservation nor wait list) and got advance permission from both the department head and the dean in case of emergency.
  • We got a big tax refund this year, even after paying next year’s estimated taxes, not unexpected given we had a $7,500 credit from buying the Honda Clarity last year.  In terms of how the Republican tax bill affected us:  we’re paying slightly less tax but not a huge difference.  This is mainly because we live in a Red State with low state income etc. taxes (high property taxes, but low property values) and we’ve finished paying our mortgage so we weren’t getting big federal deductions anyway (some of the self-employment tax changes also helped, I think, and we weren’t deducting business expenses which would have hurt).  People in blue states with high income taxes and high property values are going to be hurt much more.  We didn’t bother adding up our charitable donations this year for the first time because there was no way we were going to hit the limit, so I guess it was a bit less paperwork.
  • Strongly considering using a slightly different specification in this graph because it currently looks like a condom.
  • My car is gradually succumbing to plastic fatigue.  Another door handle broke this week, this time the part that you open from the inside rather than the part from the outside.  $45 to replace ($35 part plus $10 s/h), and easier to replace than the other part (in that it doesn’t require as much strength to unscrew all the necessary bolts).  I really should just get a new car.  Maybe this summer.  I will miss it.
  • My mom is retiring!  At age 72 it will cost her retirement money to keep working based on how her public pension is structured.  (They don’t structure them like that much anymore.)  They’re planning on staying put for a while.  Part of me is surprised because they are West-Coasters at heart, not midwesterners (despite having lived there, as my mother has pointed out, for 34 years).  Part of me is not surprised because their inertia is very strong and anything that takes planning can take a decade to actually happen if they’re not given an external deadline.  My mom hopes to devote her time to politics and research, which are both good things.
  • In case you’re wondering what’s happening with the kitchen renovation… we’ve paid for most of it so far (months ago), our dining room is full of appliances in boxes, and we are stuck on the step in which someone removes our ice maker and replaces it with cabinets.  Home Depot is like, we can do drawers there but we can’t do cabinets that look like your current cabinets.  The place the cabinets came from is like, yeah, we don’t make those anymore but you can get them custom-copied from this other local business.  But the other local business is only open M-F, 9-5 and has been playing a lot of phone tag with DH.  And so we wait…
  • My BIL is getting a full back and shoulders tattoo.  It’s a reminder of the generation gap between X and millennial about how normal that is for someone just a little bit younger than us and how unusual for us.  (How daring and hidden most Gen X tattoos are/were.  How expressive they are for younger folks.  I don’t think I know a single millennial other than my sister who doesn’t have at least an ankle tattoo.)

RBOC

  • Nice Kitty suddenly decided zie is a lap kitty.
  • Before Christmas, my windshield wiper fluid started leaking and the tank and lines had to be replaced.  $150
  • After Christmas, my car battery died and we had to replace it.  $150 (DH and DC1 did the replacement themselves, saving on repair costs and time without car).
  • DC2 read Charlotte’s Web for the first time and cried and cried and cried.  But zie was excited to meet Charlotte’s daughters.  Does anybody not have that reaction when reading CW for the first time?  DH and I both did the same so many decades ago.
  • DC2’s school is doing Scholastic again this year.  We just got the second flyer and I dropped $300+.  Some of that was for DC1!  But we are rapidly expanding our selection of books en espanol.
  • We’d planned to get DC1 a bike for hir birthday because zie is too big for hir current bike.  But… turns out zie is still too small for the next size up and we didn’t want to just buy a bike without trying it out first.  So we had to have a family conference about what to get hir instead after the fact.  Zie picked a bunch of Pokemon manga.
  • I continue to be worn out from work.  I definitely do not want to be promoted to full any time soon because it is already just too much service.  Not for a 10% raise anyway.  Now, if it were a 40K raise, then I might decide it was worth it.
  • I was looking at our electric bill going, man, we’re using a lot more electricity than we did this time last year. What has changed? Then I remembered we bought an electric car
  • neither of my kids knows what a tater tot is.  I feel oddly uncomfortable about them not having this piece of cultural knowledge… but not enough to buy tater tots.
  • Got asked to be an associate editor for a third tier journal… one I wouldn’t ever publish in myself, while not being embarrassing, per se.  But it’s like 1/12 of the work I had as an associate editor on a top journal (although finding people willing to review will be much harder)… so should I just say yes?  Or do I just say no?  [update:  I said yes.]
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RBOC

  • One of DC2’s extracurricular activities got bought by a creepy 20-something mega-Christian.  We didn’t find out until one of their events in which the new owner started by talking about how Jesus was more important than [extracurricular activity] and how they incorporate Jesus in every class and then we were asked to pray.  We asked DC2 and zie confirmed that zie had been asked to pray in class.  The place’s website has also been modernized since we signed DC2 up and talks about Jesus on a little text thing that comes and goes.  I was already pretty pissed off at this place because of the unannounced mommy participation day.  And it was fairly obvious from the older kids’ that this studio really isn’t focused on [extra-curricular activity] at all– I have been to so many of these events in my life and this one was easily the worst.  As soon as we got back home from said event we withdrew DC2 and looked for a studio that focuses on [extracurricular activity].  I really hate stealth proselytizing.  (I am also not a fan of [extracurricular activity] but DC2 is, so what can you do?)
  • The kids’ piano teacher also starts recitals with some musings about Christian religion, particularly the Christmas recital, but for some reason that doesn’t bother us as much.  It could be that since she was DC1’s music teacher when zie was at a religious school we were forewarned, but we think it’s more that she makes it clear that she’s talking about her personal faith and she doesn’t make everybody pray.  (The quote on the program this time was Isiah, “The people who walk in darkness shall see a great light,” and she talked about how every morning there is a sunrise and it seems like we’re living in dark times, but there will be light again, and the Christmas season reminds us of that… which I dunno, seems pretty accurate and not something that the person in the previous bullet is even aware of.) It is a Christmas recital, but non-Christians also play non-Christmas music (both of the holiday and non-holiday varieties).  So it seems more inclusive.
  • Some academic self-proclaimed feminists sound really transphobic on their twitter accounts these days.  I strongly suspect that this “problem” they talk about of people forcing kids to change their gender is not really a thing, but acting like it is probably does actual harm.  I don’t see how the existence of trans women who are attracted to women hurts other lesbians in any way. (And definitely not in any way that wouldn’t disappear if the patriarchy were dismantled!) These “feminists” seem to think that being trans is an act or a lie or something that people are tricking other people into doing. I will admit that I do not “get” gender identity at all– with respect to me, I only see gender as a way that the rest of the world categorizes and interacts with me, not the way I see myself (except as is reflected by the rest of the world). It is really easy for me to take the path of least resistance. Sure I’d rather be a guy just because the patriarchy means that guys have it easier, but being a trans guy, and being a trans guy who is attracted to my husband, that seems really hard. But I also understand that many people do have strong gender identities, and that gender identity doesn’t always match up with the sex they were assigned at birth and those people don’t need people like [insert “feminist” tweeter here] telling them that they’re being duped by society and hurting other LGB people… as if someone can be convinced by society to become trans in this culture. Really? Trans people are real people who are fully dimensional and have life stories and opinions and thoughts and histories and feelings just like everybody else. Excluding them, telling them they’re wrong… that is not what feminism should be about. That’s a pretty piss-poor feminism.
  • Speaking of the above bullet– I think it is easier to imagine people complexly (to paraphrase John Green) if you know a lot of different people and read/watch a lot of media in which people tell their stories and fictional people are drawn complexly.  Deirdre McCloskey was the first trans person that I ever really listened to on the topic (there were some trans folks at my high school, but they weren’t really in my social circle, though they may have been in #2’s)– I’d spent two semesters reading and loving her work published under the Donald name (economic history) and had heard stories about how horribly she’d been treated by her family from other professors whose own advisors had been involved in the march to get her out of the mental institution her relatives had committed her to (in IL you only needed 2 people to commit you!).  Then she gave a talk about being a woman in economics, “notes from a novice” and answered any and all questions we had (my question was, “should we cite your pre-transition work as Donald or Deirdre?”– she said Deirdre and that she hoped to get it all changed).  Deirdre McCloskey is a trans lesbian and a truly wonderful person.  Well loved and known to be a fantastic mentor.  She’s not harming anybody.  I also love the contrast of Claire in Questionable Content compared to Carla on Dumbing of Age.  (Claire is neurotic and wonderful and so much with the terrible puns, while Carla is kind of a jerk, but a jerk who generally does the right thing.  Completely different people.)  The trans students I’ve had in class have been, to my knowledge, trans men or trans gender neutral.  I don’t know much about their lives other than the standard student stuff because they’re also just people trying to learn statistics and economics like everybody else.  But they’re the reason I’ve spent so much time on the phone with legislative aides pleading and arguing about various bathroom bills over the past several years.  Bathroom bills are a genuine threat to people’s lives.  Not this fake garbage that creates some kind of LGBTQ hierarchy.  That’s BS.
  • Ok, maybe I do know a little bit more about my students than their statistics knowledge:  I recently learned a valuable lesson from one: never impulse buy flying squirrels on a road trip in an overcrowded car, even if they’re for sale at an open market you stop at.  One of my colleagues and I agree that they should sell the story to National Lampoon as a Christmas family road trip.
  • You can create new regency romance titles by switching out “Squirrel” with “Earl” in Squirrel Girl volume titles.  “Earl, You Really Got Me Now”
  • … thank you, Mint, I guess, for sending me an email the other week telling me I’d lost $30K in the previous week’s stock market crash.  I’m not sure how to feel about that.  Good, I guess?  I mean, that’s a lot of money.  (I didn’t check to see if that was actually accurate– sometimes Mint double counts one or more of my retirement accounts.)
  • I’m seeing a lot of New Years posts with people talking about how they’re going to ignore the news in 2019.  I hope that you all don’t do that– I know I’ve been feeling a lot of political fatigue especially since the last election, but we can’t give up now.  I don’t have time right now to do a super long pep-talk, but we have to keep pushing forward with activism.  We have to keep fighting.  Children’s lives are at stake… the environment, women’s rights, minority rights… so many things.  Rest and relax, but don’t stop moving forward.

RBOC

  • It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion.
  • DC1 told us that in orchestra a couple of hir friends stole hir Geometry review packet and did about half of it.  That’s the weirdest bullying ever.  (“Did they get stuff right?” I asked.  “Mostly,” zie replied.)  (Zie erased it all and did it over, of course.  Plus it was just angle proofs, which Zie is an expert on given all the geometric proofs I made hir do this summer.)
  • A poem to my DH:

My love for you is strong.
My admiration for you is high.
My list of things to do is long…
So all I can do is sigh.

  • I’ve got this great skirt that I get a ton of compliments on every time I wear it.  (It floofs out in an A line, and it does this really cool fade from one color on the top to a different color on the bottom.)  We’ve got one returning student who, if you google her, you will find a local news story about her bullying other women at a wives group a few years back (which I know because I needed some information to waive her out of a course… long story, but I have not had her in a class yet).  She complemented me on the skirt, and then she said, “And good for you for wearing it here,” using a tone that made it sound like I was being really brave for doing so… I’m pretty sure that was a backhanded compliment, but I’m not entirely sure what’s inappropriate about me wearing said skirt (maybe it’s too young for me?  No clue.)  In standard Midwestern fashion I did not ask her what she meant but just looked at her silently and moved on.
  • I didn’t realize how much Nice Kitty and Little Kitty had divided the house territory between them until after Little Kitty died.  Nice Kitty has been exploring the “ups” — she’s tried the top of the filing cabinet, bookcases, the top of the refrigerator, kitchen counters, the dining room table, and so on.  Mostly she doesn’t seem that interested in them.  She prefers ottoman or bed height if she’s going to have to jump, but she’s checked them out.
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You know you’re getting older when

  • You start recognizing fewer and fewer names and faces on the People magazine covers at the grocery store.
  • The only Lady Gaga song you know is by Lady Gaga is the one that sounds exactly like that Madonna song.  You know it is Lady Gaga once you hear it because you read on CNN (or heard on NPR) that her newest hit single sounds like Express Yourself.
  • you realize that the above bullets were written over 7 years ago(!).
  • none of the students get your jokes anymore.  Any of them.
  • They haven’t even seen Stand and Deliver.  What is up with that?
  • we should have saved the “your good hip hurts” thing for this rboc, not the previous one
  • there are definitely more aches and pains though
  • there’s so much you used to care about that just seems like trivial drama now
    • Though that could be because there’s actual life-at-risk drama and treason and stuff coming at us on a daily basis, which has nothing to do with our ages so much as our cohort…
  • you have 131 unfinished posts in your drafts, but zero under scheduled….

Grumpeteers, how do you know you’re getting older?

RBOC

  • A lot of books will have interludes behind the scenes with the villains discussing their plans or watching them do dirty deeds that the heroes find out about later.  I find that these books seem to be more enjoyable when I just skip those parts completely.  Nothing is missing without them.
  • DC2 lost hir first tooth.  Very exciting.
  • I have some new pants for work and they are comfortable and look nice.  But somehow they weirdly feel like I’m not wearing any pants at all.  I keep having to look and check that I’m dressed!  They are magic pants.
  • I have been craving rhubarb pie for a little over a year now.  Unfortunately, rhubarb doesn’t grow in our area and we haven’t been able to find it anywhere (not even the freezer section at whole foods!).  And we’re always in the midwest during not rhubarb season.  But this week, DH came home with 5 big stalks from our regular grocery store, which was enough to make a strawberry rhubarb pie with (heavy on the strawberries).  I don’t know what it is, but I really like tart red edible vegetation like rhubarb and hibiscus (and sweeter more purpley things like beets and dragonfruit).
  • DC2 got a boil on hir arm that wouldn’t stop growing, so we took hir to urgent care after school.  DH made it very clear to the doctor and the pharmacist that zie gets hives from red food dye.  The antibiotic they gave us was pink.  We called up the pharmacy and they said, “it doesn’t say red food dye on the bottle”… but http://www.akorn.com/prod_detail.php?ndc=50383-823-16 it does have red food dye in it.  So DH went back to the pharmacy and they looked at their online info and yes, it has red food dye in it.  And there was nothing the pharmacist could do about it because all sulfamethoxazole suspensions in the US have red food dye and he would need a different prescription to let us get the white pills instead of the pink suspension.  So after a lot of discussion and consultation with DH’s nurse mom (and DC2’s boil growing even more), we dosed hir with 24 hour Zyrtec and gave hir a dose of the pink medicine.  And zie had to skip school the next day to see hir regular pediatrician.  If we lived in Australia, the name brand would not have red food dye in it (and it would taste like banana instead of cherry… yuck.)  [Update:  the pediatrician prescribed a different antibiotic and drained the boil and after several days it is much smaller and happier, which is good because if it weren’t, DC2 would have had to go to the doctor again.]
  • In the past week I have had to deal with two white dudes thinking they’d been accused of racism and reacting very strongly to it.  One of them the reaction was so outsized that I kinda think he was racist (ya think?).  The other guy we ended up having a very nice conversation about how when you’re a privileged white guy sometimes you have to be really careful about not using economics jargon when the colloquial meanings of the words mean something much different than the jargon term (ex. discrimination, ghetto, etc.).  And really maybe we shouldn’t be using the jargon anyway since the colloquial definition has become so negative.  (Though in defense of “discrimination” we have a subset that matches the colloquial definition, “animus” or “taste-based”, but the jargon word “discrimination” is shorthand for “differential treatment by group characteristic” which is a mouthful.  “Ethnic enclave” is only 2 more syllables than “ghetto” so we should just say ethnic enclave.)
  • How I know I’m middle-aged:  My good hip is bothering me.

ACADEMICS in the US:  Have you encouraged random students to vote?  I’ve found them to be extremely grateful for information about early voting (when/where), what is needed (picture ID? what if you don’t have one in-state), etc.  League of women voters has a lot of amazing resources including vote411

Non-Academics (and academics too):  What can you do to get the vote out?  Post-cards?  Canvassing?  Letters?  Conversations with friends and family?  Making sure your polling places have campaign signs for Democrats in state and local elections?  (We may be driving into the city to get some for our local dems from their HQ…)

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