RBOC

  • Our credit union started charging $2/mo for paper statements and other paper communications.  Ugh.  Of course, DH notes, they expect all communications with us (including opting out of binding arbitration) to be sent to them via paper.
  • We had Weather that caused vaccines not to be given out for almost a week.  So I suddenly got called up to get a last minute vaccination(!)  When I put myself on the list there were *at least* 20K people in front of me and only ~10K first vaccines had been given out, so I think they must have blasted tens of thousands of people on the list to get a slot before a batch of vaccines expired.  The national guard guy at the entrance would not keep his mask on– either his nose was showing or he was *taking it down to talk to people*.  He was surrounded by other national guard and red cross and so on, so I don’t know what was going on there.  The entire process, including waiting for 15 min at the end took 30 min.  Well, parking took longer, but part of that was me being an idiot.  So… I got my first shot!  Pretty much a month before I thought I would.  Hopefully that national guard dude is not a super spreader, though I assume he must have gotten covid earlier (given his cavalier attitude and the fact we’re in the South) and hopefully still has some immunity from that.  There were also a lot of noses showing among older gentlemen.  I really should have double masked… I’m not sure why I didn’t.
  • Our tax refund this year again went directly into estimated taxes for next year.
  • Last week DH decided to start tapping networks and applying for jobs.  So he applied to three jobs and has three interviews set up now, though one of them is a second stage coding interview since that company set up the first two screening interviews last week (first with a head hunter, second with actual people at the company).  He’s being upfront about us not wanting to move until DC1 has graduated high school.
  • If DC1 weren’t going to be a junior next year, I think we would move for a job for DH.  I would probably take unpaid leave and then go on the market.  I haven’t been very happy with my current situation– basically I was promised a monetary chair something like 7 years ago, but then it was given to someone who had an outside offer instead (fair) and then after zie left for another outside offer it wasn’t given to anybody for years because one of my colleagues sued about how chairs are given out.  Then two colleagues who were hired and got tenure after me and have worse per-year records, lower quality publications, fewer single authored publications, and so on, were given chairs over me because they have higher *google scholar counts* which sure, they got their PhD before I did so their first publications were before mine and have had more time to get citations (and the difference is *not that big*– per year out I have more).  Then the one who does zero service in the department and often cancels class and doesn’t answer her emails, skips P&T meetings when we are voting on tenure without an excuse, signs up for and then skips meeting with job candidates without saying anything, never answers service-related emails, etc. etc. which often results in me doing more service and getting emails from her students since I teach the other sections of her core classes, got a *second chair*.  And I am ready to move on.  I’m done.
  • Though the first straw this past year was when one of my colleagues told a student to report me to the associate dean for partisan speech in class (they were trying to not talk about the midterm review by talking about the first presidential debate and someone made a both sides comment and I said I hadn’t watched the debate but all the commentary I’d seen said it was one sided).  Then the associate dean called in three *random* students from my classes to cross examine them on how awful I am.  Then he reported to the dean who brought it up with one of the students.  Then it went down to the department head who had a fully garbled conversation with me that included asking me if I’d told an entire class that a student had had covid (when I was not aware if this student had had covid).  At which point *I* scheduled a meeting with the dean and associate dean and was like WTF, what is GOING ON.  And found out all of the above and the dean gently told the associate dean that calling in 3 students for an off-handed comment is probably not a great idea.  Did I mention that the colleague who told the student to report me just moved into the office next to mine?  Anyhow, I apologized to the woman who people had said I’d said she had covid after I figured out where that came from (she has a very cute sneeze), and emailed the man who had talked to the dean and associate dean to assure him that I rubric everything and was worried about how he’d checked out of class since that day.  They were both horrified that the associate dean had called them in and said neither of them had reported me or wanted to make a big deal of anything.  Then before I could tell my department chair about the above, it was announced that my colleague had been granted a second monetary chair on top of the first, and the department chair decided who got those chairs so I no longer want to talk to hir.
  • We also want to move to a blue state.  I think I’m at the point where I would be willing to exchange snow for people generally caring about other people.  The Trump presidency and the pandemic have made it much harder to pretend that a lot of people living in our state aren’t as horrible as they actually are.  Yes, they may be brainwashed sheeple, but I’d rather that the brainwashing be in favor of helping others and not so destructive.  I am especially worried about DC2 growing up in this environment.
  • But if we moved earlier, DC1 would have a transition the year that grades count the most and zie would probably end up struggling in classes zie hasn’t been prepared for because middle school is so bad.  Additionally it would be more difficult to get national merit because the cutoff would be higher.  And zie would lose geography diversity points from certain colleges.  It’s only two years, surely we can wait.
  • Though part of me is like, wouldn’t 2 years of high school with a decent English program be worth something?  Not enough I think to make up for the potential negatives.  And there’s no guarantee that other places have decent English either, just different English.
  • And of course, nobody will be hiring for a while and there’s no guarantee anybody will be hiring for me.  So I’m not sure what I’m going to do.  I don’t know what I would do with myself or who I would be if I left academia.  I have no other identity.  It doesn’t bother me that my identity is so wrapped up with my career.  But it would if I had to leave it, even if I were making more money.
  • My department head watches Fox News and before the pandemic frequently stopped by my office to tell me what a horrible economist AOC is (she’s not, that is my official stance as an economist– she is not stupid and she definitely understands labor economics and public finance, she’s just not a libertarian).  The person who got the two chairs is in the same field as the department chair and recently coauthored a paper with my department chair.
  • The colleague who turned me in to the associate dean teaches national security economics but I suspect he is pro-Trump, which seems like… bad for national security.  He’s definitely very in favor of our congressman who voted in favor of sedition.
  • A big reason that I think I need to leave is that I do not like being a person with anger.  I’d rather just remove myself from the situation.  I don’t want to talk to people or fight about this, I just want to go someplace where I don’t know that people watch Fox News (or better, they don’t!) and I can get back to thinking about my work instead of being full of resentment.

RBOC

  • Now that I’ve bought all the hand sanitizers, my new thing seems to be scrolling through jetpens.com (not a sponsor) and pretending that if I bought all the things I would suddenly become neat and organized.  So far I have been keeping the dream alive by not actually making any purchases.
  • We got DC1 to sign up for the solo part of solo and ensemble this year because they said zie could send in a recording and DC1 really has nothing on hir transcript of interest to colleges other than grades and testscores (and the grades are not as great as they should be in English and now Spanish).  But then we found out that zie has to have a piano accompaniment.  And then we found out that if zie sends a video instead of going in person, zie isn’t eligible to move on to the next round.  And then we found out that the school accompanist doesn’t wear a mask during practice at hir house but thinks it’s ok because zie has an HVAC system(?!)  (Note:  DC1’s piano teacher *currently has Covid.*  She’s still doing online lessons though.)  So… we said no thank you to her (and did not report her to the principal because she also does practice for accompanying students at school and says she can’t wear a mask while playing piano because she can’t see the music, which BS, she needs better masks).
  • So… since this doesn’t count, we’ve decided that DC1 should just accompany hirself.  Zie hasn’t looked at the piano part yet, but if it is reasonable zie can play it on our electric piano and record it and have it play back while zie plays the violin part.  Alternatively, zie can record it with a microphone and play it on the computer all fancy-like with headphones and stuff.  Alternatively, DH found a website that has just the accompanist parts.  Update:  the website with the accompanist parts FTW!
  • DH initially didn’t want to ask the accompanist about masks because it seemed so obvious as to be rude.  He’s glad I did.  He was worried about doing the tryout in person but I was most worried about going to some strange woman’s house.  I’m like, they will probably be following the rules at the tryout and if not you can just leave, plus the school is supposed to have upgraded ventilation.  But I think doing neither is the right call here.  It’s just so dangerous and we are all so close to getting vaccines.  We can wait another year.
  • Did I mention that DC2 got invited to a zoo birthday party and we said no because of all the maskless and chin-mask selfies on the zoo yelp page?  Well, that kid’s dad has a really bad case of covid now so the birthday party has been postponed.
  • I have a hard time coming up with people who haven’t yet had covid.  I do have a couple of students whose entire families got it but they somehow escaped.  I sure hope these folks I work with who have gotten it have immunity, or at least immunity enough to last me until I’m vaccinated.  Though apparently one of the students in our program literally got it twice (as in, had a negative test between two symptomatic positive tests).  I don’t know the student in question though, so this is just rumor.
  • The sympathy card pack on my amazon wishlist is out of stock.  That is DEPRESSING.  I mentioned this to a friend and she said at her grocery store they were out of stock of any except the $6 ones.
  • Another of the staff I work with on a semi-regular basis has had a close relative die.  This time the woman who handles student hiring has lost her brother.  I ordered another box of 30 sympathy cards since I was down to one from the box I bought last summer when I ran out of the sympathy cards I’d been holding onto for over 20 years (from the box of mixed cards– I still have two “Best Wishes” from that because I guess I sent the “Congratulations” for weddings?).  Too many people have died in far too short a time period.  It isn’t fair.  And our university has said that employees have access to their stockpile of antibodies (assuming they meet some oxygen need) at no cost, but that isn’t available to everyone, like people’s relatives who don’t work for the university.  Everything is so unfair.
  • The house kitty-corner from ours no longer has the weird “don’t tread on me”/trump flag flying!  I don’t know if they took it down voluntarily or if the HOA stepped in, but it’s nice to be able to look out of the office window without seeing it!
  • I watched one of those “stop saying you have ocd you jerk, you don’t even know what it is” videos (not the exact title)… and it left me feeling more like I had ocd than I did going into it.  #anxiety!  In any case, if I do have it, it is under control and thus not really worth diagnosing.  (Much like my actually diagnosed ochlophobia. #anxiety!)  (Update:  the online ocd tests both said “mild ocd but go see a doctor if you want to make sure”)
  • I recently learned that I’ve been misusing the word “concatenate” all my professional life.  I thought it meant cut out a part and squish the rest together, or chop off the end, essentially to shorten a string, but apparently it means to join (so just the squishing together part, no cutting at all, lengthening instead)!  At least I knew it was about strings…
  • Got an email with questions about a prospective grant proposal.  The first question was, “What are you passionate about?”  I deleted it.
  • I’m not even passionate about social justice– I am TIRED and ANGRY.  Anybody who is still passionate is either a better person than I am or hasn’t actually been doing much.  People (like my dean, ugh) tell me I’m passionate about things, but really I’m just good at making my anger look like passion.  Or maybe I’m too cute for people to see my anger as anything other than excitement.  I don’t know.
  • I am passionate about DH and about the next KJ Charles coming out later this month.  If pushed, I will admit to being passionate about the next Courtney Milan, but since that deadline has already been pushed back once I don’t want to voice that passion in case of jinxing things unless I have to.
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RBOC

  • Courtney Milan and friends on twitter recently had a conversation about how at the core of a long-regency romance novel is that people want to be safe and that money is one way to be safe.  People want to marry a duke because that is the safest place to be in that time period.
  • I read a lot of long-regencies.  But I’ve also read a lot of mystery novels.  What has been interesting to me in my most recent juxtaposition, jumping from one to the other is how all these 1920s-1960s murder mysteries I’ve been binging on c/o Christie and Sayers make it very clear that it is *dangerous* to have money, especially if you are leaving it to other people and not charities.  If you have a lot of money you might as well put a target on your back.  People will marry you but then *kill* you.  They will come to your aid when you are sick, but only until you sign a new will in their favor.  Kind hearts and coronets.
  • I think it is not random that this transition between 19th century and 20th century measures of literary safety happens– the 1920s bring the strong rise of the middle class and forcing minor gentry to work for a living, though I guess the Mapp and Lucia series show that that element of society is still going strong into the 1930s.  And of course, Benson makes it clear (much like Jane Austen did before him) that idle hands truly are the devil’s playground and the idle wealthy are a ridiculous drain on society.
  • But I also want to have a lot of money because it helps me feel safe.  And I want to leave money to my children because I want them to be safe.  I like being able to escape.  But we won’t have enough money to make us worthwhile targets… and I would hope our children wouldn’t want us dead!  That’s a good reason for them to have their own income and careers.  We spend so much on investing in them so they can take care of themselves.  Which is another mistake that those 1920s victims make– they ask their children to live on their expectations rather than training them as solicitors or financiers or what have you.  No vocation, idle hands.
  • Though I guess finance is a bad choice, come to think of it, because a pretty common murder motive is needing funds to cover up embezzlement!  So maybe just stick to law.  Not medicine because they have too much access to poison.
  • Agatha Christie seems to be really pro-LGBT, particularly gay men.  It’s sometimes a plot point (won’t spoil it, one of her many plays).  Reading the mysterious Mr. Quinn it is quite lovely how in the first story she’s pretty clear, though using coded language, that the hero, Mr. Sattherwaite (who I think appears in the occasional Hercule Poirot when HP needs gossip, ah yes, wikipedia says he does) is gay, or possibly asexual (though in later short stories she gives him a failed marriage proposal).  In contrast, Sayers seems like a pretty awful homophobe, particularly when it comes to lesbians.  She straight up says pretty terrible things.  And yet, Sayers seems, on the whole, less anti-Semitic prior to WWII (as noted in an earlier post, Christie seems to realize she shouldn’t be anti-Semitic once the Nazis come into power).
  • When I was in elementary school, one of the children’s moms came in once a year to teach about Judiasm, usually around Hannukah.  I didn’t realize until I was much older that she did this to help combat antisemitism.  We also had a disabilities unit in 4th grade where we learned about different kinds of disabilities and how people worked around them and how to treat people we met who had disabilities. People would come in and talk to us about how to treat their seeing eye dogs and so on.  The learning specialist talked about how she taught people with dyscalculia to add (which… was how I did adding at the time).  It was a really wonderful program and definitely helped me not be a jerk or idiot when meeting new people.  I’m not sure we could do that these days because people would be too afraid of making mistakes.  And I’m sure there were stupid things we did, but on the whole all those old educational videos from the 1970s and the community volunteers themselves made us less likely to be harmful and more likely to support ADA legislation.
  • This blog really is a random mix of things.  I think that’s more unusual than it used to be?  But maybe not.
  • One of DH’s relative’s “friends” traveled to DC for the coup and stormed the capitol.  He was really excited about it and posted pictures and videos all over his social media.  Then he came home and found out that everyone he knew IRL was horrified and deleted all his social media and is pretending he didn’t go at all.  I hope the FBI finds him.
  • DH’s relative’s youngest (the only one in college) got an additional bill for $2K for last semester because financial aid was based on the number of people living in the household and so he included his oldest and her kid.  But, apparently the oldest got some kind of food assistance last semester (I don’t know if WIC or foodstamps or what) so the school decided she and her kid didn’t count as part of DH’s relative’s household, so they sent a retroactive bill for the difference(!)  That seems crazy to me.  (We paid it.  We don’t know how much this semester is going to cost even though classes start soon.)
  • Speaking of DH’s relative– he kicked a covid positive mask-denier “We’re all getting it anyway so who cares” off the work site where he was working twice.  The first time he threatened to kill the guy (“If you give me covid and my immunocompromised wife dies, I will hunt you down” “That’s not fair, you won’t know it was me”) , which in retrospect, he regrets.  The second time he called the guy’s boss and threatened to tell the city.  That actually worked.  It’s nice when doing the things we tell our kids to do (talk to a responsible adult when someone is being dangerous) actually works.
  • Speaking of anti-maskers, DH tried to get our car inspection sticker renewed and had to go to three places before he found one where the people were wearing masks (the dealership).  Except… after it was done the cashier had her mask around her neck instead of her face.  He also went to drop something off at a government office and didn’t realize until he’d left that none of the people working there even had masks.  7 people died yesterday and our ICU has been 130% full for almost a full week now.  The students aren’t back yet.  DH is shaken.  I wonder if I should start doing errands.  Maybe DH can do my work instead.  I’m not sure what I would have done in the moment, but I definitely would have reminded the cashier to put her mask up (I would have assumed it was an accident).  As for the government office, if I’d noticed, I think maybe I would have just left the item we were turning in on the inside of the door.
  • The library was still quite lovely for curbside, and Target curbside was great.  Hopefully he won’t have to do any more errands for a while.  I can pick up and drop off library books myself once my school starts since the library is on the way to work.  Also I’d completely forgotten that some people don’t wear masks because last week I went for my annual doctor’s visit and everyone at the hospital was masked without a single nose showing.  I switched hospital systems and it has made a HUGE difference.  Also everyone there was super nice and seemed genuinely happy to be working there, which is also really different.
  • The bad news though is that I am now obese(!) which I have NEVER been before (BMI exactly 30, but I’ve also gained a lot since my last checkup so it’s been a fast weight gain, which is the least healthy kind).  I had my glucose checked but it’s fine.  My bad cholesterol is up too– usually it’s nicely in the low to middle healthy range and only my good cholesterol is high.  The doctor’s notes say the cholesterol is fine, but the automatic thing says “borderline high”.  I’m having a bunch of other weird health problems too which I should probably just give their own post.  Pandemic is bad!  I’ve told DH he can still make bread but he needs to cut back on the sweets.  The children have noticed and have been complaining.

RBOC

  • DH’s relative’s mom is the first person we know to have gotten the full vaccine.  She works in IT at a small rural hospital.  But it makes sense that she got vaccinated in the first round even though urban hospitals didn’t have enough vaccines to get all of their doctors and nurses vaccinated for logistics reasons.  This way the hospital can get everybody on staff in one round and they don’t need to worry about shipping another pair of doses to the same hospital.  MIL says that many of the even smaller rural hospitals aren’t getting any of the Pfizer vaccine at all because they cannot afford to invest in the refrigeration, so they’re not going to vaccinate until the Moderna vaccine is available.  I wonder if the cold storage units can move across different small hospitals after they get their staff done, or if they just stay there until there are doses available for patients.  If Hillary Clinton were president, her Covid Czar would have had an entire team on best practices for logistics.
  • DH’s relative’s oldest has driven across the country to move herself and her five year old into a relative’s shed with no plumbing and a space heater for heat.  (Not a snowy area, thankfully.)  CPS is going to find out and take her kid away.  Who thought this was a good idea?!??  (Not DH’s relative, but she’s in her 20s so he really has no say.)
  • Did I mention before that DC1’s science class had a Chemis-Tree?  And DC1 made a very tiny snowflake for extra credit– an origami H2O molecule?  (Zie got full points.)
  • There are not one but TWO leg lamps from a christmas story in our neighborhood.
  • On Dec 23, my sister was like, “what should I make for Christmas dinner” and I was like, “just order something” and she was like, it’s too laaaate.  And I was like, “we always have luck with ethnic restaurants even if you can’t order like a turkey dinner” and she was like, ooh, how about that Mediterranean place.  And then I looked at their Christmas catering menu and suggested stuff.  And then she got it all plus “a broccoli thing BF wanted.”  So either my sister and I have very similar tastes, she’s super tired of picking out food, or she trusts my food suggestions completely.  I think I missed my calling as Grand Duchess presiding over menus.
  • I am beginning to suspect that people who bullet journal just don’t have as much stuff to do as I do.  (A lot of their journals are completely inconsistent with GTD in that a lot of those lines could be done in under 30 seconds, so should just be done instead of being written down.)
  • I was looking at a bullet journal thread that Maureen Johnson started asking for advice on simple bullet journal designs.  And… like a third of them were just rustic hand-drawn versions of the Moleskine weekly planner that I favor.  So… why not just buy a Moleskine weekly planner?  Both the planner and the Moleskine blank bullet journal cost about $20 each… why not get the one that takes less work?  Where do they find the time to write all those boxes out by hand?!?!
  • I mean, I want to be more organized.  And I haven’t settled on a single combined system to help with that.  And I do find myself gravitating back to paper whenever I try to go digital (though Trello has definitely been added to my project planning!  It’s mostly best for smaller projects with multiple RAs though.  It tends to get unwieldy with bigger projects.)
  • What I’m currently doing is using a Moleskine lab notebook that DH decided not to use because he prefers some other company to Moleskine for lab notebooks.  (I like black hard-cover Moleskine.)  I don’t bullet, but I’ve been using it in place of the scratch paper lists and blue-lined NBER pads of paper (and the occasional google docs) I had been using previously.  It makes less of a mess.  Though I also have my weekly planner and have a stapled printed out copy of google calendar.  And Trello. These all serve different purposes.  DH takes care of putting all family things into the google calendar that warns him of things like music lessons for the kids.  It is not streamlined.  But I don’t think bullet journaling would help.  It would just take place of the lab notebook and be prettier and less flexible, depending on the system.  (There are a lot of systems.)
  • I switched to the Moleskine notebook because I found a pen I really liked from a jetpens sampler pack (enerGel Clena– it is very thin but not scratchy) and I just didn’t feel like I could use scratch paper anymore.  Though I couldn’t find the kind of Moleskine notebook I wanted (it was out of stock) and would still be using paper anyway if DH hadn’t found this old notebook of his when he was clearing out his old office.  (Now “nice kitty’s room,” while he’s back to sharing my home office now that he no longer needs to have space for things like disembodied torsos.)
  • To be clear, I’m talking about bullet journaling as a organization device, not a as a mindfulness/journaling device or as a piece of art.  I’ve got the blog for journaling(!)  And… I got enough art in middle school.  I’d rather leave that to other folks with better small motor skills and more interest.
  • Courtney Milan sent me some Washi tape.  It is the only washi tape I have, but I can’t use it!  It’s from Courtney Milan!  (No, she probably does not remember me, but I did win an auction from her.)
  • The basic bullet journal idea doesn’t seem so bad.  Maybe I’ll try it once I get done with this Moleskine (but pre-printed and inflexible!), or maybe I’ll get a vertical weekly planner with a right-hand side for to-do lists in 2022.  Most likely I will forget!
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RBOC

  • I am so irritated with DC1’s poetry unit.  The teacher seems to have bought wholesale someone’s lesson plan from middle school or possibly elementary school.  They have a 16 box grid and have to pick a type of poem to write from each row.  And there are examples of each type of poem.  But instead of using actual GOOD examples, they’re all juvenile examples written, presumably, by the guy who is selling the unit (I googled his name with poetry and didn’t find anything, though a guy with the same name was a high school track star at some point in the past).  So instead of Ode to a Grecian Urn, there’s Ode to School Steps.  Instead of Gwendolyn Brooks for slam poetry, there’s … actually they didn’t provide a slam poetry example.  This is high school.  Shouldn’t they be learning and analyzing some of our foundational poems?  I mean, in my high school we only studied the symbolism of such poems, which is ridiculous because the craft of poetry is also important (I somehow got a 4 on the AP English exam mostly by guessing– it was really eye-opening what we hadn’t learned), but at least we read through more of the major works than just Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.  (We also got some dirty poetry in History class to illustrate that puritans weren’t entirely pure.)
  • I am grateful that our commetariat is really smart.  And I mean that in a growth mindset kind of way.
  • I have just purchased a $100 chair pillow from Purple because sitting and I are not getting along right now.  My middle-aged body is not handling sitting at my desk chair for long hours as well as it ought to (or perhaps I should not be working long hours and my body is rebelling).  I’d finally gotten any and all back problems figured out, but now my nether regions are rebelling in multiple unpleasant ways.  Hot baths can only do so much!
  • Speaking of health problems– my allergies continue to be terrible.  Part of it, we think, is the extra dust mites from having 4 people and a cat at home.  But I suspect a lot of it was just me thinking I had DC2’s current cold but actually had allergies instead.  It’s miserable!  Zyrtec is a very good friend.  But… I’m thinking one of these years I should either move or get allergy shots.  (My biggest allergies are outdoor things like grasses, trees, and other pollens.)
  • DH finally saw a doctor for his watery eye.  The GP was like, here are some eyedrops if they don’t work in 3 days, go see an ophthalmologist.  The ophthalmologist said either you have dry eye or you have an infection.  Try these different eye-drops and if it doesn’t clear up in a month I will *irrigate your tear duct* which sounds really unpleasant.  DH’s mom was like, oh, yes, I have dry eye and have to use a humidifier at night and wear goggles.
  • It has been so long since I cleaned off my work desk at home that there was an *airline* ticket receipt in one of the piles.
  • Payroll forgot to double my health insurance costs in the December paycheck.  *sigh*  Do I wait for them to realize or do I try to figure out who to notify?  What a pain!  It does say that DH has coverage though… so maybe they’re taking it out of the Jan paycheck instead and I should just wait a month?  That’s probably what happened since I work for a month before getting paid.  OK.  I need to be less on top of things.  Especially since even if DH did lose coverage because of 30 day snafus he could still get COBRA.
  • The Monday after Thanksgiving we got an email from the high school informing us that 9 students and staff had tested positive for Covid over break.  Then on Tuesday, a kid in DC1’s history class spent much of the class without a mask including a lot of walking around and a spirited debate.  Near the end of class the guy sitting next to him also pulled his mask down to his chin.  (DC1 watches the in-person class via streaming.)  I emailed the school principal to ask her to remind the teachers to enforce the mask mandate without naming any names.  But OMG, why????  I don’t think we can send DC1 back to in person this year.  [UPDATE]:  The teacher for that class got diagnosed with Covid a few days later and is now teaching asynchronously from home.
  • DC2 ventured out of our neighborhood for the first time since March two times this past week… first to get a flu shot, then to do progress testing because the powers that be decided it was better to do it in person than online because of technical problems at the beginning of the year.  (We did have technical problems, but DC2’s teacher figured them out straight away.)  They did do a good job of social distancing though and there were only 3 other kids in the room where DC2 took the test, according to DC2.
  • A bunch of my students this year are functionally illiterate.  They cannot read paragraphs and have difficulty with sentences.  This makes instructions difficult in a heavily virtual environment.  I think it might be because of this method of teaching reading.  I had been hoping that since we’d gotten out of the whole language fad (or relegated it to the idea of reading real books and not textbook anthologies, which, whatever) that this problem would go away, but no, phonics had a brief hey-day and now I’m getting these people who are doing cuing.  C’mon, we *know* that phonics works for mainstream learners.  I hate that this problem filters all the way through to college.  That means there are tons of adults out there who have been failed by the system.  It is so much easier to fill in gaps in math than it is to fill in gaps in reading(!)  (I wonder if the ones who take a foreign language are better at reading say, Spanish, since it’s still taught phonetically… just like my kids have a better grasp of Spanish grammar than they do of English…)
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RBOC

  • One of DH’s relative’s kids has gotten married and is moving out (this is the one in year 3 at the local community college).  What’s really weird is that renting a house is $650/month, but there are houses for purchase for $20K!  And although they all need major work, none of them are former meth labs (last time I checked for one near DH’s parents house before DH’s sister had twins and I was thinking about future Christmas visits, there was a former meth lab listed super cheap).  I joked that we should buy one (not a meth lab) and rent it out, but then I remembered that rent is probably so high because it’s really risky renting out to people in that town– if they were good with money they’d buy a place.  Nice houses that don’t need work are more in the 100-200K range, which is still pretty cheap.
  • Another of DH’s relative’s kids was going to have a Halloween party, but then one of his friends got Covid and all the rest ended up in quarantine for two weeks.  So… lucky miss there.  Also DH’s tiny home town is in bad shape with covid, if it isn’t obvious.
  • DH’s sister’s tiny town is also having a bad covid outbreak.  It’s like they have no cases and then *bam* they’re in the redzone because it gets to a couple of nursing homes.  I guess this is why it’s important to be careful even if it seems like it is silly.  You never know when it’s going to hit your town unless there are good systems of contact tracing etc.
  • Boy, savings rates (APY) sure have plummeted since March.  My online is only getting 0.5%, which I guess is better than nothing but maybe it’s time to move some cash into the market.  Though every time I think something like that, the market crashes so… maybe I should just spend it.  :)  [Narrator:  She did not just spend it.  And the market crashed, but that’s ok because it is still sitting in savings.]
  • The second hero in Boyfriend Material eats this thing called Bircher for breakfast.  Since I made DH read the book, he noticed it and decided that we should try it.  It’s basically muesli soaked overnight in almond milk, both things we had (the grocery store we’ve been doing curbside at has these promotions where if you buy one thing you get something else free, so we ended up with a thing of almond milk, and I really like having cereal with no added sugar so we tend to have muesli if it is available, which it has been).  He also put in a grated apple.  Turns out Bircher is really good AND I don’t get hungry or even want to snack until like 1pm.  There are recipes, but it’s basically just a recipe to make your own muesli and then soak it overnight with almond milk and fruit.
  • Thoroughly Modern Millie the movie is … racist.  But I tried watching the broadway version and Jimmy is such a jerk!!!  The meet cute in the movie (Tapioca!  Everybody!) is SO much better than the meet cute in the musical.  Like, if I were 20 years younger and not in love with DH, I would totally want to date movie Jimmy.  I still like the sound tracks of both though.  (Also this elevator scene! So fun!)
  • The grocery store we’ve been doing curbside with had a special on cheap frozen pizzas (Tombstone and DiGiorno), so I got some.  They tasted like nostalgia to me.  But DC1 was a bit repulsed and said they tasted like school pizza on the non-Pizza Hut days.  Sometimes I wonder if we’ve created monsters with our kids, DC1 in particular.  (DC2 tends to be more open and interested in trying new foods.)  On the one hand, DC1 dislikes a lot of truly unhealthy food.  On the other hand, living on just sushi alone can get expensive!  Though DH said he never got frozen pizza growing up, they only had pizza from the local place.
  • Speaking of pizza– if you want a super easy elegant savory dessert, take pizza dough, then cover it with walnuts and blue cheese and bake.  You can also add lemon or lime zest and a little olive oil on top before baking for an additional elegance.  (Idea courtesy of Williams Sonoma.)

RBOC

  • DH’s niece who is legally blind has been switched to in-person schooling.  It sounds like their midwestern school district is doing this correctly where the high-needs students get priority for in-person schooling.
  • Instacart continues to get worse.  So we’ve been shopping more and more at the grocery store that does its own curbside.  I really hope our preferred grocery store stays in business and keeps carrying the things that we can’t get without driving into the city, but instacart is just too stressful to deal with.
  • Of course, I’m also irritated at our curbside place because I have to provide my own bleach/alcohol wipes for work and wipe everything I’m going to touch down before class… and I’m running low on wipes.  So I ordered some from the curbside place and for $10.30 they gave me a huge container of wipes that are not approved against covid (active ingredients:  citric acid and lemon grass).  I wish we’d had them last week when I accidentally spilled defrosted meat in the refrigerator (which is why we are running low), but in general they are not useful for us since we mostly clean with rags and the occasional paper towel.  (Fortunately I do have a couple extra bleach sprays and paper towels so I can take those to work, they’re just heavier and bulkier than clorox wipes.)
  • DC1 wants to know why someone always has to die in order for a privileged white dude to come of age.  Granted, it’s usually a privileged white dude who dies in these books, and sometimes the one who you know, came of age by dying alone in Alaska, or defied his father by committing suicide.  But sometimes it’s a less privileged best friend that the protagonist kills.  (I guess when someone else comes of age it’s a black man who has to die?  Not to point fingers at much better books, but… there is kind of a pattern…)  DH says it’s like dogs dying, which yeah, that was the earlier trope.
  • It’s all about the PATHOS.  Or as one of our terrible male high school English teachers said, all great literature is about sex or death.  (Which our classmates carried through to the next class to sometimes hilarious results… since it turns out Bartleby the Scrivener isn’t, and Emily Dickenson wrote at least a few poems that aren’t.)
  • DC1 had to do some stupid rote thing for a chemistry lab so zie programmed hir calculator to do it all automatically.  I’m so proud.  (Though I do wonder if it’s something that could have been done using fill down in Excel…)
  • They also had to cut straws in order to use them to make a bar chart?  Which seems really dumb to me and wasteful.  And it was a lab that was due the day it was assigned, so we didn’t have enough straws (DC1 found 2 from a leftover take-out order) so zie had to roll up paper.  Which is at least less wasteful.
  • I went to a small virtual conference with people from Blue states and it’s just crazy how differently Covid is being treated by their universities.  They’re all teaching virtually except one person at Boston College who gets tested 2x/week(!) and everyone has temperature checks before they can enter a building.  People at Stanford have to go through a lengthy approval process the day before just to get into a building.  They were horrified by my experiences and shocked that it seemed like no big deal that 4/15 students in one of my classes have informed me they had Covid (the real number may be higher since they do not have to tell me why they’re attending virtually).
  • At least the weather is nice and we don’t seem to be affected by the disasters on the West coast?  (sigh)
  • There are three huge trump banners up in my neighborhood.  Biden/Harris signs have started popping up, including our own, but they are nowhere near as ostentatious.  The entrance to our HOA has an “Any Functioning Adult 2020” sign up.
  • Apparently there was also a trump car parade the other weekend.  A very very vocal minority.  Those of us in “Red” states need to not be cowed and need to make our voices heard so that people believe there’s a point to voting.  Because voter suppression is real and we need to fight it.
  • Two of the three houses diagonal from us (we’re on the corner of 3 streets) have Trump/Pence signs.  But most of our own street is Biden Harris, which is nice.  The Trump/Pence people directly across don’t take very good care of their ostentatious yard (that was so beautiful back when the non-evil people before them owned it).  That whole street has gone to crap, really.  And not because they’re poor– this is a reasonably expensive neighborhood.
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RBOC

  • Dh accidentally made 10lb of bread in one go.  Somehow we ate 5lb of it the first day.
  • DC2’s schooling turns out to be completely asynchronous, with an expected 3 hours/day of work.  Though 3 hours for most kids is not 3 hours for DC2, so we will have to supplement.
  • Earlier this summer, two of DC2’s friend’s moms were all about limited screen time (DC2’s frenemy’s mom was already heavily pro anything that keeps hir occupied).  They have now gone from “sure, let’s have minecraft realms playdates once a week for an hour or two once school starts” to every other day, “Is anyone available for minecraft for the next 3 hours so I can work?” DC2 has discovered that as host zie is the only one able to use cheat codes and has set up a store across the lake from the group house in their realm. I really hope they don’t get tired of it.
  • DC2 accidentally summoned a crystal that turned out to be a bomb and destroyed the group house.  But they rebuilt.
  • I had ricotta toast with lingonberry jam using a thick half slice of one of the 5lb boules.  It was really good.
  • Nice Kitty really likes ricotta.
  • DH and DC1 went to schedule pick-up (even though they’re virtual) and waited for an hour in line in the car and got a bag of stuff and signed a paper and then did not even check to see if they had gotten DC1’s schedule.  They had not!  I can’t believe that they were both so incurious.  We emailed the counselor as soon as they got home (9am) but she emailed back at night that she wouldn’t have access to the system until Monday.  Classes start on Tuesday and I would really hope that they’d have the classes loaded in the system by Monday for virtual students, especially since the English teachers have already sent dire email warnings about what happens if you don’t get your summer writing assignment in to turnitin by 8:30am on Tuesday.
  • Update:  Counselor sent the schedule on Saturday and DC2 got all the classes zie wanted!  Enough virtual people must have signed up for programming 2 to make it able to have a class.  That seems much more manageable than trying to handle AP Physics this year on top of everything else (including Chemistry, AP US history, Pre-Calc etc.).
  • It seems like everything is adding yeast extract now.  Even organic stuff has organic yeast extract(!)  I miss the days of msg.  (It takes a lot of msg to give me a headache– like you have to directly add powdered sazon–but apparently anything with yeast extract destroys my day.)
  • I did not get a raise.  There was a (small) raise pool, but I guess since I got a big raise last year I wasn’t a priority.  I had an OK year but not an amazing year publications-wise… I did do a TON of service (department and for econ more generally) which apparently does not at all get rewarded.  Which, noted.
  • I’m eligible to apply for faculty development leave again for next year.  I can’t believe it’s already been 5 years.  But… I don’t have any big grants or projects right now so my application isn’t that strong and there’s no place we really want to go until DC1 finishes high school.  It seems crazy not to apply though since worst case scenario I stay here and get paid half my salary for not teaching.  Still, I think I won’t do it.  We only have a really limited number of slots compared to the number of people who want leave and I think I do want to wait until DC1 is at college and DC2 is in middle school, which would be 3 years from now.
  • My uni disabled personal settings on the Office 365 I have on my home computer.  This means that I cannot open word documents from the internet because it is a security risk (it won’t let me check the box saying to trust .doc downloaded from the internet).  Even ones I uploaded myself.  I used to have my own copy of word but it stopped working and when I tried to get it to repair itself it installed Office 365 over itself.  This is really irritating me and I’m considering buying my own copy of Office 365 at full retail price just so I have full administrator control.  But I really hate subscriptions.
  • The other REALLY IRRITATING thing is that I can’t turn off @#$#2ing grammar check (because they disabled personal settings).  I hate grammar check so much.  It let me unclick all the things it checks when it checks grammar which took a long time, but the next time my computer rebooted, they were all back.
  • DH’s sister (pregnant with twins) went into labor early but they were able to stop it, but now she’s on permanent bed-rest until the babies are born.  Fortunately my in-laws are both retired and have been taking turns staying with her kids (a 7 year old and a 4 year old).  (They were going to take the kids to grandma and grampa’s house but the four year old is too worried about her mom.)  My MIL is renting an apartment in September to help out with the twins.  (The due date is in October but the doctors don’t think she will last that long.)  I can’t even imagine how scary this all must be.
  • Update:  Two weeks later DH’s sister is back in the hospital, having gone into labor again.  We’re all really worried.  Apparently she had to take helicopter rides to get to the hospital both times, but at least the hospital in the city she’s been flown to has a good NICU.  She’s 6 months and some change– I don’t know the exact number of weeks.  They’re most worried about the smaller twin (the little girl).  My in-laws will be taking the older kids home with them until school starts in a couple/few weeks.  SIL will be in the hospital for minimum 9 days, assuming they can keep her from giving birth.
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RBOC

  • Few of the women I most admire are people pleasers.  As I head through middle-age, I should remember that.
  • So… they’ve updated teaching schedules and I am one of the few teachers listed as teaching in person.  The other people teaching sections of stats this semester are all teaching online, even though they’ve added another section (from a guy whose elective didn’t make).  All of a sudden people want to get into my 8am class instead of avoiding it.  I am not particularly happy about this.  I mean, is it worth risking my and my family’s life?  (Plus the new section only has 3 people in it, though I imagine he’ll just teach it the same way he does the online asynchronous section he teaches in the summer.)
  • Looking at who is teaching online and in-person doesn’t seem to correlate with anything that would be health related or helpful to students.  The (childless) people who hate being on campus are all teaching online.  The people who care most about the students, even those in the at-risk age categories, probably did what I did and said, “Whatever is best for the department,” which, maybe I’m regretting? If I get Covid from a toilet plume I am going to be so unhappy about all of this.  Especially if I get DH sick.  [Update:  some of the over 60 folks did switch to online, which I’m happy about because I like these colleagues! and also even if I didn’t it’s not worth that much risk.]
  • How is it that cheese puffs are always good even when they’re not actual cheetos?
  • I feel like I’m turning into a Los Angelean (though I think I have to lose 50 lb to *actually* be accepted)– I keep trying various vitamin cocktails to try to fight this fatigue that I seem to keep getting.  And… the vitamins seem to work.  I HAVE to take vit D (doctors orders), but even though my B12 levels were fine the last time I had bloodwork, sometimes a little B12 pill will pick me right up (especially during certain points of my cycle).  I seem to be able to take iron without throwing up, but it doesn’t tend to help any more than the B12.  Sometimes I really crave B-complex (usually the smell of the pill nauseates me), and that seems to help with my thinking, though not the fatigue.  Finally, when all else fails, magnesium seems to help.  And when I get leg cramps, I always eat a banana right after which makes  me wonder if I should get a little potassium.
  • I DO take a multivitamin many days… alternating with a Rainbow One prenatal and a Centrum, but I sometimes seem to need more than that.
  • I would also have to start drinking kombucha without wanting to spit it out if I became an Angelean.
  • Vitamin-induced fatigue is scary during a pandemic.  So are allergies.
  • I wonder if I’ve always had this many allergies over the summer or if it’s the extra wet we’ve been having keeping things alive.  Or maybe it’s more dust mites.  Whatever it is, I tend to freak out a little bit and then take a Zyrtec and 20 min later I’m completely fine.  [My sister suggests I’m allergic to the Saharan desert.]
  • Zyrtec is my second best friend.
  • I have nothing under review which SUCKS.  I have several papers that are close to a completed first draft that have to get done before school starts, but I don’t know how it is going to happen.
  • OMG so many people are sending so many papers this summer.  Everybody who does reviews seems to perpetually have 5 papers to referee, including me on top of my editing responsibilities. This is SO HARD.  I need to go through the new crops of graduate students at schools whose training I trust before the semester starts and I get completely overwhelmed again.  [What I do is I have a drive document called “Victims-Journal Name” and then I have a Graduate Students section and then I put the name of a school and then the name and (if I’m being good) email of their further along students and a few brief words about what they study as they relate to the journal(s) I’m editing for.  They tend to make excellent referee #3s (I try to get the other two to be experts who have published on the topic, but the third can be more of a generalist who does related work or who is working but hasn’t published yet)]
  • I’m one month into my first month of editing the journal I said I could only handle 1 paper a month for and the editor in chief just tired to send me a fourth paper.  I was like, no.
  • Why does Gen Z say Weary when they mean Wary?  I mean, I’m tired too, but it’s a different word.  (Also tail end of Millennials do this AND I caught my Millennial sister who should know better doing this, though she claimed she was also weary.)  I’m not ready for language to change this definition because I need both words!  Tired isn’t descriptive enough!
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RBOC

  • The fabric I ordered from Spoonflower for my MIL said it would come in over a month, but then when that time period passed it added another month delay.  Good thing she’s not expecting an order!  Update:  The internet says it was delivered late June.  Update:  When we talked to her, she said she was wondering if she’d ordered it herself and had just forgotten, so we must have done a good job picking out fabrics she’d like!
  • I also ordered a case of hand sanitizer from Office Depot that was supposed to come May 22nd (many weeks after I’d ordered), but by May 30th it still hadn’t come, so I went and ordered more of the overpriced scented glittery tiny hand sanitizers from Bath and Body Works because they had some that were clear (DC2 is allergic to red dye) and I am fairly sure they will actually come because my previous two orders came.  Update:  It came.  My glittery stinky hand sanitizer army grows.  Even the “for men” has glitter in it and smells like horrifically strong aftershave.  (Update:  not all of the little dots inside are glitter– some of them are little black dots that just dissolve on your hands.)
  • My Office Depot hand sanitizer order came deep into June.  I am now SET for hand sanitizer and may even be able to give some of the larger bottles away.  The kids have been having fun reorganizing the bottles into different configurations.  Currently it’s definitely set up like an army from a battle game like Shogun Total War.
  • I ordered a bunch of Statistics related face masks from redbubble.  I hope they come before school starts.  Update:  They came and they’re adorable, but I would not recommend because they’re only 2-layers and they don’t have nose stuff so they want to slip down.  I will probably wear them in conjunction with my single-layer math balaclava.  It is going to be SO HOT teaching.
  • I just realized I know wikipedia brown’s husband.  I wanna be like all fangirly next time I see him but I will try to control myself and not be like, did you know you’re married to Wikipedia Brown??  Because I’m fairly sure he is aware.
  • It’s crazy to me how many people go to all the effort of going to a protest but then just aren’t registered to vote.  This means that protests are an excellent place to get people registered to vote.  But then there’s the problem of folks actually voting.  Usually I see this with college students, probably because they don’t quite know how to register and my state does not make it easy (and they don’t know that they’re allowed to register where we live and their home high school didn’t follow state law about registering seniors), but this time around there were quite a few adults (including minorities) whose registration had lapsed because they didn’t vote in the last local election.  That was astonishing to me.
  • I wish that more of these housewives of doctors blogs that seem to be popping up on blogrolls would say something about doing activism things instead of just talking about decluttering and being socially isolated.
  • I have heard from several of my students (minority and non-minority activist) talking through processing this moment in history and specifically our school’s response.  At our weekly research meeting I brought this up, and not surprisingly, only the women and minority faculty have heard from students, and none of the white men.  I know that white women should be doing more, but I HATE that white men are never expected to do anything.  They do not shoulder emotional burdens.  They do not brainstorm to come up with ways to make things better.  They get to say yes or no, but they don’t actually make things happen.  They’re given a pass for being clueless.  I’m especially not happy that this burden is falling to our untenured junior female faculty much moreso than our tenured white dood faculty.  But also the tenured white dood faculty haven’t done the basic work to have the most basic of conversations.  They want to be good people and they don’t get in the way (which is a step up from many departments), but they don’t want it enough to actually do anything that isn’t super easy.  I told them they should all get a copy of So you want to talk about race or White fragility.  Paper copies may be unavailable some places, but electronic versions are not.  But I don’t think that they will.
  • To fix systemic racism, it’s really mostly white people who need to be fixed.  So all these seminars and so on that are mostly minority students in attendance teaching them about how they’re discriminated against… not so useful.  Seminars teaching them mentory stuff would be more useful, but it is not enough to teach people how to swim, as the NSF says, we must instead drain the pool.  It’s so easy to have fun programs that teach people how to swim, but the hard work comes in draining the pool.  And there are a lot of white people who are full of water.  (Maybe that’s pushing the analogy too far.)
  • After a couple weeks of dealing with the stupid ways my department is dealing with BLM, I now understand what it means when people are upset about a white woman (well-meaning or not) making it all about her.  I want to reiterate that this is NOT the same as white women listing out places to donate/protest/call/etc.  What this looks like is either a well-meaning white woman with little actual knowledge talking about her very recent journey to wokeness in the context of how it makes her feel as a seminar (see above bullet) and then taking questions as an expert, or WORSE a “victimized conservative Christian White lady” who wants to be the “voice of victimized white Christian conservatives” (her words– we LIVE IN THE SOUTH, she is part of the majority) going on paragraph long screeds about what her very narrow definition of racism is and how no other kind of racism other than the overt calling people the n-word exists.  Please, bloggers, keep with your lists and publicizing your actions.  You are not these ladies.
  • Our black students have been very clear on what they want, and continued “conversations” in which white people with no actual knowledge talk at them is not it.  So very much not it.
  • My RA’s husband got Covid and then her entire family (parents, brother, herself) caught it from him.  One of my free summer RAs has gone MIA (they have an internship requirement).  I can’t blame him because he was free, but also I wish he’d said something instead of just disappearing.
  • … One of my senior colleagues died suddenly of a heart attack.  Completely unexpected and he was so healthy (not to mention supportive and productive and just an all around good person).  I’m still in shock.