• 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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  • 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.


  • 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?


  • 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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  • I generally do not at all mind unsolicited advice.  Either it’s something I’d been wondering about or hadn’t really thought about and I welcome it, or it’s something for which I am very set in my opinion and said unsolicited advice allows me to provide my own advice in response, which is probably one of my favorite things to do.  I understand that this is one of my odd quirks that makes me an acquired taste.  Possibly because I have a pretty strong personality.  I’m not the wasabi of personalities, nor am I the anchovy… hm… maybe I’m the beet of personalities?  (I love beets!)
  • I need to do more stretching exercises because my muscles have been getting cranky.  But I just cannot with Yoga with Adrienne (which my sister is always pushing on me).  Why is it that “No BS yoga” courses cost so much more than the ones that come with a big side order of woo?  Really what I want is a physical therapist who will come into my home and tell me exactly which stretches to do to fix my problems.  Preferably one who is ok with me wearing my pajamas.  If I ever become obscenely wealthy, I will have to put a PT on staff.  (Spoiler:  This won’t happen.) (#2 would like to take this chance to plug the work of Jessamyn Stanley.)
  • DC1 somehow managed to get a sock on the top of hir ceiling fan.  :/  I am always finding kids’ (and *cough* my) socks everywhere in the house, but this was a new location.
  • DC1 and I have the same shoe size now.  So I ordered a pair of tennis shoes in hir size for me from Zappos.
  • DC2 got in trouble and we sent hir to hir room.  The next day I found a post it note on my desk where one side said “tickit” and the other side said, “for sending me to my room”.  DH got one too.  (I told hir that was inappropriate and not appreciated… but still…) (#2 thinks this is hilarious.)
  • Another year, another phonecall from the school in which I have to say, “Can you call my husband about that?” even though it says to call him first!  This one also had the benefit of calling my cell in my office where I don’t get much signal, so the person couldn’t even hear half of what I was saying.
  • I have to make a confession.  I don’t like the idea that Bert and Ernie are a couple because I think Bert can do better than someone who, as my 6 year old says, “is always messing with him”.  I’ve always felt that Bert and Ernie had a big brother little brother kind of relationship and that’s the only way it’s made sense that they live together.  (And rationally I’ve always figured their relationship was based on The Odd Couple for laughs.)  Ernie is such a jerk to Bert so much of the time, and Bert does not seem to appreciate Ernie’s practical jokes.  It’s not a healthy relationship.  (Disclaimer:  I identify with Bert and Ernie reminds me of my little sister before she hit her 30s.)  Evidence:  Ernie eating crackers in Bert’s bed, the banana in the ear practical joke, etc.  Plus, Ernie doesn’t appreciate that Bert can see beauty in the commonplace, such as the loveliness of Linoleum. Yes, I have spent a lot of time thinking about this.  I’m on board with Sesame St having gay couples that have healthier relationships– I don’t think that Bert and Ernie is a great relationship to emulate.

What foodstuff would you liken your personality to?

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  • DC1 has always been exactly average height for hir age/non-skipped grade.  DC2 has always been a bit tall for hir exact age, which put hir as average or a little above average for hir grade (because zie has a late summer birthday), but over the summer this year, zie has gotten HUGE.  Zie is towering over kids in first grade with early Fall birthdays.  Zie isn’t the tallest, but zie is close.
  • Also this summer DC2 decided to skip over things like Magic Treehouse or Cam Jansen or the A to Z mysteries and go straight from books with lots of pictures and badly behaved main characters (Bad Kitty, Franny K. Stein, etc.) to Harry Potter.  We’re not quite sure how that happened.  Or where to go from here.  Zie also loves Ramona books.  Basically it seems like zie completely skipped things at 2nd-4th grade reading and interest level other than a brief flirtation with Junie B. Jones.
  • Did I mention that DC2 is absolutely brilliant in math?  Zie has this amazing intuitive understanding of the number system that makes my heart happy whenever zie explains connections zie has figured out to me.
  • We got the learning outcomes for first grade.  They want kids to end at level “J” which is where DC2 ended Kindergarten before this big reading advancement this summer.  And math looks like another completely uninspiring year.  If zie was better at Spanish this would have been a very good year to skip.  But hir teachers seem nice, and oddly they both already knew DC2’s name at back to school night (not true of all of the kids), so maybe they’ve been warned.  They’ve also re-sorted the GT kids across the two classes — I think maybe by gender.  Sadly DC2’s best friend is in the other dual-language class (which was also true last year– they hang out in the after school program), but happily zie isn’t stuck with the one GT kid who actively doesn’t like hir, and there’s not just the one.  (Last year there were 2 in DC2’s class and 4 in the other class.  This year it seems to be 3/3, girls in one class, boys in the other.) [update!  The GT kid DC2 was paired with last year didn’t show up, so they put *all* the GT kids in DC2’s class the first day of class.  DC2 is thrilled.]
  • DC1 has gotten into geometry proofs.  It was hard starting at first– I’d forgotten how frustrating it always is to start a new proof-based subject not knowing what you’re allowed and not allowed to assume.  (I remember back in Number Theory in high school where we had to prove addition (using definitions for distance, IIRC) before we could assume it!  That was super frustrating!  And then in Real Analysis in college we proved addition in a completely different way (set theory, I think?), but that was more in the middle of the semester and less frustrating.  Math is so amazing with the way it all just works.  Well, except for paradoxes and unprovable things but those are really cool too.)  And this is hir first foray into proof-based anything so zie hadn’t had the experience of being initially frustrated an then getting used to the new rules.
  • There’s a new teacher for geometry at the middle-school, coming over from high school.  She sent a very nice email talking about how she’s not really sure how to go about teaching the class in terms of homework and lecture vs. classwork and providing the schedule for the class.  There’s about a 6 week unit on proofs, but the rest is non-proof stuff, including a unit on the end on construction, so I feel vindicated in going through proofs with DC1 this summer.  Plus I had forgotten that the book I’m using has a lot more intro-to-proof stuff that will be useful in later classes that isn’t necessarily there for geometric purposes (indirect proofs, paragraph proofs, etc.)
  • After being obnoxious about two column proofs and complaining that paragraph proofs were somehow better, DC1 has converted into a two column proof evangelist.  They take less writing.
  • DC1’s feet are the same size as mine now.  Hands are still smaller though.
  • My kids are seriously into seaweed snacks.  I don’t understand it at all– I couldn’t handle the taste of dried seaweed until late college, and I still prefer more mild seaweed on my sushi.  (Seaweed salad, otoh, is delicious and has always been.  But that’s a different thing.)