RBOCollege

  • We’ve decided that DC1 will be making any and all college choices.  We do have a few rules that we’ve outlined here before:  It must be in the Fiske guide.  It cannot be a public school in another state (we’re not paying private school tuition for a state school, and the states with reciprocity aren’t as good as our state flagship).  But other than that it’s up to DC1.  We have saved and will pay for whatever.
  • While DC1 was researching about Harvey Mudd for hir practice “Why Mudd?” essay, zie came upon a lot of stuff about the insane workload and how students put things off to the last minute because they’re taking 5-6 classes a semester when students at the other 4 consortium colleges are only taking 4 classes/semester.  And how there’s so little grade inflation that literally only a handful of students have gotten a 4.0 since 1955.  (I mean, I didn’t get a 4.0 in college either, but I also never got below a B and was never concerned I would get below a B.  I think DH got a C in a pre-med weedout class he had to take for his major at the regional ivy he went to.)
  • HMC has recently cut a couple of classes from their core curriculum, but it’s still generally 5-6 classes a semester going forward, except the first semester is only 4.
  • But our students at the state flagship also take 5-6 courses a semester, so maybe that’s not horrific?  Still, our undergraduate classes aren’t anywhere near as intense as classes at a top liberal arts school.
  • I had so many friends burn out at Caltech who are now not working in anything STEM related.  (I feel super guilty about my ex-boyfriend from high school who could have graduated from our state flagship in 2 years instead.)  Harvey Mudd isn’t that because they have support systems and stuff, but if DC1 wants to go to graduate school, will a lower GPA hurt?
  • DC1 is currently thinking HMC for early decision.  They accept 25% of their early decision applicants and far less than 10% of their regular decision applicants.  DC1 doesn’t really have any “spikes” in terms of extra curriculars (everything zie has done would be considered “4th tier“).  I would feel so much better if zie knew what hir full option set was before making the decision to do HMC.
  • It’s hard to make these decisions as a 15 year old.
  • Another thing we talked about was social lives.  I went to a top liberal arts school, which draws people across all different majors.  And I’m super lazy.  So I tended to just socialize (ex. eat meals with) people I lived near rather than people I had actual things in common with.  I did have friends who were nerds (math majors, the guy who introduced me to Kenshin, etc.), but, because I always got low housing lottery numbers, seeing them was more of a weekly thing than a daily thing (technically, I got mediocre housing lottery numbers, but my roommate got insanely low ones each year and I couldn’t dump her because that’s how I ended up being paired with her in the first place– her friends dumped her because she brought their average down too much).  At any large school, your people exist (DH found his through fencing club), but if you’re lazy, you won’t necessarily make an effort to see them.  At a place like MIT or HMC or Caltech, you’re surrounded by people with interesting interests, but the workload and lack of grade inflation can make socializing vs. work tradeoffs difficult.
  • PE is a 4.0 class.  Since DC1 took it as a junior, hir class rank dropped from 25 to 23.  That explains why the class was mostly second semester seniors!  We didn’t even think of that.
  • (Also the class rank denominator dropped a lot– I guess kids do drop out of high school when it’s no longer required, which is super sad.  It’s not redistricting and there wasn’t a drop like this last year and it’s not like the university is making cut-backs or anything so university parents aren’t leaving.)
  • DC1’s class schedule doesn’t work– zie cannot take AP Music Theory because it’s never offered.  AP Art History doesn’t fit into hir schedule.  AP Spanish V (a point of contention in the grumpy household, but we gave in with the proviso that zie include it as an alternate) doesn’t fit into hir schedule.  There are no 5.0 classes that weren’t on hir list (Anatomy, AP Bio etc.) that fit into the blank spot left after all the other classes are set.  So zie can either take a “research” elective (they have to come up with something and submit it to a science fair) or zie can take multivariate calculus at my university (sadly, they don’t let hir take classes over the summer, just during the school year).  DC1 wants to take the calculus option.  I’m not sure if this is going to be possible because of class schedules (the university has to open up their evening section to make it feasible, which it will probably do after freshman enroll), and if it is, I’m so worried about the work load on top of AP Chem, AP Calc-based Physics, AP Statistics, AP English, AP Government, etc.  Especially since it looks like the engineering version’s evening section is full and zie would have to take the math major section if it opens up.  We barely got through this year and zie had PE/study hall for one class!
  • The grades for above won’t matter if zie does early decision or goes to the state flagship.  The AP tests won’t matter if zie goes to HMC (they don’t accept any).
  • DC1 had to get a meningitis shot to apply!  We’re still waiting for that to go through before zie is allowed to try to sign up for calculus even if there is a section that works for hir.
  • My friend recommends the research option because the teacher gives everyone 100% and the class is essentially over in February after the science fair.  But that requires finding a mentor and sitting in the back of the physics class DC1 just finished everyday during the free period and DC1 says zie doesn’t want to do it.
  • I don’t think zie will be able to use hir summer internship project for the science fair because it uses protected and proprietary data.  But that’s something we will have to look into if calculus doesn’t work out.
  • I kind of hope multi-variate calculus doesn’t work out.
  • My undergrad no longer allows undergraduate cars on campus!
  • Not related to college: Covid update:  My friend who I walk with at work’s daughter has covid, just a day before she was going to get her first vaccine (or a week before her 5th birthday when she had been going to get her vaccine).  DH’s colleague that he was at a conference with the other week seems to have picked up covid at the conference she went to directly after.  I am so glad that DH didn’t get it at the conference and I’m also glad I didn’t make it into work this week(!) since I’m the only person at work who masks still and one-way protection isn’t perfect, and even I don’t mask on our outdoor walks.  County reported levels are 25/100K.  I hope these are all mild cases.
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RBOC

  • It’s gotten so very hot and I am a delicate flower.  Part of me wants to go out and enjoy outdoor activities, but we spent an hour in the shade eating lunch with my sister at a patio restaurant and I just wilted, even with lovely iced beverages and ice cream.
  • I finally got a new-to-me office chair.  We went into the city to a discount furniture reseller– it’s a place that buys bulk furniture from places going out of business and resells them.  They had several Steelcase Leap in stock and in order to get a new Steelcase Leap I would have had to make an appointment with an authorized dealer which is just too much pressure for me.  I was ready to go to the place we got DH’s Aeron to try an Embody (I used to have an Aeron that we got used off Craigslist while in paradise, but it just stopped working for my rear end and back even with all sorts of purple pillow additions, so I gave it to DC1 at the start of the pandemic), but then a reddit post suggested this discount furniture place and it was great.  It had an unassuming storefront next to a bodega, but there was a huge warehouse in the back and it took about 15 min to try out the chairs and have the salesman demonstrate their features and then I picked out one (I chose purple fabric, though they did have a leather one in my school’s colors, but I wear shorts at home a lot and do not like the feel of my legs sticking to leather in the summer.) ~$400 (much less than a new one or an Embody).  So far so good– much better lumbar support than my old aeron.  And much better than the two position college dorm chair I was using before.  They very impressively fit it into the back seat of our car for us.
  • A lot of people were missing when their names were called at graduation (DC1 played orchestra for it).  According to my friend whose son is a senior, several of his friends had to miss graduation because one of them had a graduation party before graduation that turned into a super spreader event (he still doesn’t seem to have gotten it– my friend has been having him rapid test before he goes anywhere, including graduation).  NONE of these known cases showed up in the reported school statistics where it claimed 0 new cases the entire last week of school for the entire district (also odd given several rooms of the university daycare were also shut down for covid in that time frame, and presumably some kids in the district have younger siblings who got it through daycare).  It’s possible they all found out the last day of school and nobody knew they had covid before then… but I think unlikely.  In any case, school is over and there’s pretty much no way of tracking covid anymore other than the official statistics (reported in the NYTimes) that are based solely on pcr tests reported to the state.  And I guess for the entire state, not just our county, there’s the Walgreens tracker.
  • DC1 will be doing natural language processing for hir internship.  That’s pretty cool.
  • My kids grew out of their swimsuits sometime during the pandemic.  We had to order new ones.  The hope is to get some exercise in the mornings before the HOA pool gets crowded.
  • Our first attempt on that went poorly because apparently our HOA pool does maintenance on Monday mornings!  Then we had to work and stuff.  Then on Saturday morning DC2 refused to get out of bed.  Then Sunday morning I didn’t want to get out of bed.  So…
  • DH went on a business trip, first one since the pandemic.  I don’t know about this whole travel thing.  And yet, going to conferences in person can be revitalizing.
  • DH said there were no booth babes at this conference, which is a first for him.  (He approves.)  There were women at the vendors booths but they were wearing suits just like everyone else.  (Technically, DH and engineers like him wore standard business casual, but all the sales and medical people were formally suited up.)
  • This summer when very few people can see me, I am embracing #cottagecore.  It’s hot out and only two pairs of my shorts fit, so I’m enjoying dresses that make me look like I should be serving beers at a Ren Faire.  They come with pockets!  #Target  (When nobody needs to see me, I just stay in my pajamas at home.)
Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: . 12 Comments »

RBOCovid

  • DC2 got a booster!  Maybe we should have waited because there was only a week of school left and hir first in-person daycamp isn’t for a while, but who knows with these decisions.
  • After the university students left for the summer, Covid cases per 100K actually increased to 25/100K on average.  Currently they’re back down to 15/100K.  Of course, these are just pcr tests that have been reported.  Who knows what the actual numbers are.  They’ve stopped reporting deaths as well.
  • The university announced it is no longer allowing students and faculty to report Covid cases.  They will no longer be tracking cases and they will no longer be reporting case loads across campus.
  • Last on campus test positivity rate reported by the university before they stopped keeping track (May 15th):  10%.
  • K-12 also hasn’t updated their dashboard since May 15th.
  • On my conference travels we had to wear masks during the talks, but there was indoor lunch with the same people.  Folks from California complained about how California went overboard with restrictions.  I mentioned that I had to buy two boxes of sympathy cards because so many people I knew had brothers and fathers and husbands die.  Like, yes, California did some stuff not supported by science, but if we’re going to do stuff not supported by science, I’d prefer the kind that results in fewer people dying.
  • Lots of maskless coughing on the plane back.
  • I don’t seem to have come back with anything awful from these trips so far.  But oddly, I did spend the next couple days after getting back each time fighting off something.  Or maybe I’m just bad at travel.  (This time I forgot a bunch of important stuff and brought other stuff I didn’t need.  It can be difficult to find a size 38B bra even with shops nearby.)
  • I had a little scare before my second trip.  DH had a virtual wine tasting (his company HR person is really into group activities) and learned that each nostril is primed to smell different things so you should sniff the wine separately with each nostril.  I tried this and one of my nostrils wasn’t working!!!  I could smell wine (and everything else) just fine with one but nothing at all with the other.  Before completely succumbing to freaking out, I did a quick google, saw that the most common cause is a clogged sinus, took a dayquil, and voila, 20 min later my sense of scent was completely restored.  Then I tried all my different hand sanitizers and by golly, one nostril is better at vanilla and the other is better at mint!

RBOPG&E

  • PG&E is spitting out dividends again, at least for its preferred stock.  It’s still a fraction of its high value (somewhere between a half and a third), before it was discovered to have set California on fire.
  • It has been so long since its last dividend (2017), that it decided to no longer keep up with direct deposit.
  • I got a check in the mail for $218.  But it also said that they’d paid us another $3K to date (in back dividends).
  • So I figured out how to logon online (it still remembered my password from tax time, I guess) and it said that it sent a check for $3K two days before it sent the check for $218.
  • I set up direct deposit again.  They didn’t know the name of our credit union, but they knew a name with fewer words and there doesn’t seem to be another credit union with those same words?
  • We decided to wait another week to see if the larger check came.
  • These dividends are only for our preferred stock, but most of our stock is regular.
  • I don’t think our preferred dividend amount will ever go up.  I think it’s going to be $218/quarter whenever it pays dividends.  No matter what happens to inflation.  But I could be wrong about this.
  • Our regular stock reached a high of $800/quarter, but those times are long gone.
  • We have twice as much regular stock as we have preferred stock, but the regular stock is only worth a tiny bit more than the preferred stock.
  • The check for $3K came about a week after the check for $218.  I have deposited it to our Wells Fargo account and it will eventually get used for music lessons and other smaller expenses that require checks.  (Expenses above $500 tend to come out of our main credit union account.)
  • Utilities are supposed to be bluechips– stable not risky ways of getting regular income.  But that’s obviously not true.  Index funds really are the best, not single stocks.

RBOC

  • A friend’s college on the east coast reinstated a mask mandate after a big spike in cases.  So far cases seem to be under 15 per 100K for our county.  The K-12 schools (the only place that counts at home tests in addition to official tests) has been seeing hardly any cases.  Our positivity rate has been steadily increasing on campus, but it is still under 9% (as opposed to the 25+% during Omicron’s peak).
  • It’s hard knowing what to do about Roe being killed.  And this is definitely not where they are going to stop– they want a nationwide abortion ban.  They want to remove several forms of birth control.  (Some state senators are even proposing bills to ban condoms!)  They want to get rid of gay marriage and put back anti-sodomy laws.  Some of them want to get rid of bi-racial marriage.  I can’t keep reading because it is just too much.
  • But it being too much doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stop fighting, just that maybe I have to limit my doom scrolling.  We have to get out and protest.  We have to get people to vote against forced-birth opponents.  Even democrats.  If they’re anti-choice, they have no business representing us.
  • Under the current laws in some states, once the overturning of Roe is official, my MIL would have died of an ectopic pregnancy leaving DH motherless and an only child instead of the oldest of three with a loving grandmother to our 2 children and our 6 niblings.
  • For my first miscarriage, I didn’t need a D&C, but that doesn’t guarantee that future miscarriages won’t require them.  So many horrible things can go wrong if a miscarriage goes awry.
  • If you live in a state where your state legislature is in session (or one where it is always in session), you are needed to pay attention to what bills are up.  Does your state have an indivisible legislative chapter?  Does your nearest city have a group (indivisible or otherwise) that is keeping track of what laws are in committee and need you to call your state reps?  If so, can you get signed up for their mailing list?  If not, you may have to keep track yourself, which seems like a lot of repeated effort.  But if we don’t stop the bad laws from getting passed, the supreme court is not going to have your back, no matter how unconstitutional they are.  And these things can affect you, especially if you are a woman or are any person who identifies as something other than your sex assigned at birth.  Or you’re not white or not evangelical or etc. etc. etc.
  • I hate all of this.  I want to focus on my work.  I want to focus on my family.  I want to read novels and watch videos of Taskmaster!  But we’re in an emergency time.  Rights are getting stripped away to a worse than pre-Roe state.  And I won’t want to give up all we’ve fought for on civil rights for minorities and LGBTQ+ people.  In a world where they are passing anti-abortion laws that don’t have any exceptions, including for rape, incest, and life of the mother (historically, the minimal exceptions) you can’t expect to keep even what rights we had in the 1960s.
  • On top of that, even privileged, connected, people may not be able to get abortions for themselves or their children.  We are being tracked via our phones.  Via facebook, instagram…  Surveillance companies are popping up.  Getting an abortion in the future may involve making sure your web searches are private and non-traceable.  That you leave your phone at home.  That you contact places only via burner phones.  This is a potential future should abortion be made illegal nation-wide, as the Republicans say they will do if they control both houses of congress in November’s election, if states have bounty-hunting laws like Texas does, rewarding people for turning in people who help women get abortions.  (If you can’t go to Oregon because of a nationwide ban, I suggest Amsterdam, though some cities in Mexico look surprisingly promising, surprising because this is a new thing for Mexico.  Back in the 60s, Japan was a destination, but it seems harder for foreigners to get safe and legal abortions there now.)
  • There’s not much time until November.  Believe it or not, a lot of people are not paying attention and don’t even know what is going on with abortion and what rights are under attack.  We need to make noise and get out the vote.  Historically, anti-abortion laws without exemptions have almost no support– just the most misogynist of dudes who don’t care if women live or die.  Most people who don’t approve of abortion generally think it’s ok in the cases of rape, incest, and life of the mother.  The idea that you can die from an ectopic pregnancy for legal reasons, as if we were living in some theocratic developing country, should mobilize people who know, if we’re organized enough, if we make enough noise.  Please help.
  • Lots of people are saying don’t use the coat-hangers imagery because women can get medical abortions.  But medical abortions don’t abort later term babies– the hangers (or earlier, crochet hooks) are really for later term pregnancies.  They are dangerous because they tend to puncture things that shouldn’t be punctured and cause bleeding and infection.  Women will die and saying it’s ok, you can just get a chemical abortion is not actually accurate.  Yes, let women know that they can get pills mailed to them, but also… these laws even affect women who miscarry or who have to carry dead fetuses to term or …
  • What can you do?
    • Seek out and go to protests— The bigger they are the more press there will be and the more politicians will listen even with Peter Thiel or whatever evil supervillains are paying for their campaigns.
    • Pay attention to what your state legislature has in committee and what they’re voting on and CALL your state representatives
    • Call your federal senators, especially if they are democrat, and demand they get rid of the filibuster to pass legislation that protects women
    • Write postcards and letters to voters (not about abortion, but to get the vote out)
    • Donate to abortion funds
    • If you are brave (and to be honest, I am not, but admire people who are), write letters to editors, educate people about stories of women who have needed abortions who would be harmed by the law.  Heck, get people to read the Judith Jarvis Thomson paper that explains how while we do not have the right to murder people, we do have the right to not have our bodies forced to be used as life support.  Until these men making the laws are forced, without their permission, to donate kidneys and livers and other important organs to people on the transplant list, or, as in the paper, be hooked up as human life support to a violinist for 9 months, they have no right to force us to do anything.
    • Educate yourself now, before it is illegal, about where to get Plan B (emergency contraception), where to get medical abortion pills, what your plan will be if you or someone you are helping needs to get an abortion if it is illegal in your state, and what to do if it is illegal in the US entirely
    • You don’t have to do all of these above, but please do something.  And if you can only do one, I would suggest protests.  But if you can’t do protests, call and write.

RBOMusings on divorce, marriage, and religion

  • Neither of us is getting divorced any time soon (to our knowledge).
  • I refuse to feel sorry for people getting divorced.  Divorce is not a problem.  Divorce is a solution.  I do feel sorry for women who are not in a position economically to care of themselves or their children and are trapped in bad marriages, and I think we should have more economic support for women in those situations who need to get on their feet (I have friends whose mothers were briefly on welfare while getting degrees after a divorce– we could probably do better there).  But the marriage was the problem, not the divorce.
  • I also don’t think divorce is a sign of failure.  People grow and change.  Marriage itself is just a contract that makes some things easier (ex. seeing a loved one in a hospital).  Relationships end for all sorts of reasons, and whether or not a contract was entered into is irrelevant.
  • Part of not seeing divorce as a sign of failure is not seeing marriage as a sign of success.  Marriage is completely not necessary (just like children are not necessary and buying a home is not necessary).  These so-called milestones aren’t really milestones at all.  They’re choices!  Hobbies!  There’s a lot to be said for freedom.  People make their own cost-benefit analyses about these choices and just because someone has a different utility function doesn’t mean it’s wrong.  I know so many people who are happy being single or partnered but not married or married or divorced but not remarried or remarried or…  Marriage is a thing you do when you love one person enough to be legally attached to them and also want that contract that makes some things easier.  It’s not a box to tick off.  It’s certainly not something to be proud of or to feel ashamed about!
  • You have value just by being you.
  • I say congratulations to people who get married because it’s a choice that has made them happier and I like to celebrate people’s happiness.  But that’s their utility functions.  It’s not like I would want to be married to either of them myself!  But I’m happy that they are happy with each other.  And not that they checked off said box.
  • Having seen many people go through messy divorces (and some folks go through easy ones!), the process itself is painful.  But the aftermath is always so much better than the marriage before the divorce was.
  • Economically, we only look at incomes.  And for women with kids, about half get remarried to higher earning partners and end up much better off monetarily, and half stay single and have lower household incomes than they did before the divorce.  Putting these together is a wash.  But money isn’t the only measure of quality of life.
  • Religions that use marriage as a way to trap women into subservient roles are pretty awful.  I reject them.  I reject the way they force women to stay in bad relationships.  I reject the way they discourage women’s earning potential by telling them they’re bad mothers if they don’t stay at home with their children (they’re not).  I reject the way they demonize divorce.
  • I would much rather be married to someone who wanted to be married to me and who could escape at any time he wanted than to someone who is forced to be married to me because of some paper he signed decades ago.  I can’t understand men who just want unpaid servants.
  • I really like David Willis who draws dumbingofage.
  • I had a super religious friend in college who got married to a guy she didn’t like as much as I liked my (not yet) husband because they really wanted to have sex (I actually knew two super-religious people in this situation… oddly both math majors, but the guy wasn’t my friend and he got married as a freshman whereas she got married as a junior… I had a history class with him where he kept telling the professor the professor was wrong because the bible says earth is only a few thousand years old or something).  When she would complain about her fiance I’d ask if she was sure she wanted to get married (people who complain about their fiances never like it when you ask that, btw, sample size N=2).  I was also getting married that summer (right after graduation rather than a year before), and she’d say how was it different me getting married at 22 and her getting married at 21.  And I was like, well, if it doesn’t work out for me, I can just get divorced.  You’ve said you can’t!  If my only option was to be trapped in a marriage forever with no possibility of escape, I probably would have lived in sin instead.  Though also I am a strong strong believer that sex before marriage is an 1000X better idea than getting married as a freshman (that marriage did NOT work out well, though I don’t know what happened to them in the end… I think he was still married as a senior and I don’t know why I remember that he did his thesis on the Poisson distributions of pot shards, but I think maybe his wife dropped out?  Have not thought about him in 20+ years and cannot remember his name.).
  • One of my friends got divorced and then got remarried to the same guy again several years later after he did some really intensive therapy on his own during the interim years when they were literally half a world apart.
  • I love my husband huge amounts.  But if he divorced me, I would survive.  And not just for the sake of the children.  There would be a lot of changes and I would miss him terribly, but it wouldn’t be the same level of devastation as if he suddenly died (heaven forbid).
  • Divorce is one of those things that if you decide to do it, it was the right choice.
  • So, to everybody who has been through a divorce or who is going through one now, Congratulations!  And best wishes for a brighter future.
Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: . 28 Comments »

RBOCorporatestuff

  • This is not my area of expertise, BUT, I suspect that the reason there’s so much unionizing activity is because minimum wage hasn’t kept pace with inflation and is now at levels that don’t allow living wages.  If we had higher wages, workers wouldn’t *need* to unionize.
  • Unpopular opinion:  Not a fan of unions because they incentivize insider/outsider behavior and lead to inefficiencies that only benefit people in the union, often at the cost of other people, not just companies (see:  police unions).  Unions are a second-best solution in a world with monoposonies.  That said, in the current environment I (unpopular opinion with economists) support unionization.
  • Unpopular opinion (among half of economists, among most economists if you include my why):  I am a fan of higher minimum wages because I think people who can’t/won’t work such that they’re productive enough to make a living wage are probably terrible workers.  And I think a lot of the jobs that unproductive people can do go against basic human dignity (ex. being used as targets of ridicule by insanely wealthy people).  Minimum wages are also a second-best solution, but they cover everybody, not just those who can unionize.  And the effects of an increased minimum wage filter up the payscale, at least at the lower levels where they need to filter.  And the evidence is really mixed on the effects of higher minimum wages on employment overall, especially at these levels.
  • Unpopular opinion:  I would rather try out a basic income system that fed and housed and kept people healthy to a minimum amount of decency and get rid of minimum wage entirely.  This is not efficient, but I think in a society with as much surplus as we have, not everybody has to work and we can still afford to give people basic human rights.
  • Unpopular opinion:  Pay caps on CEOs etc. don’t do harm.
  • My students this semester have bought the company lines that nobody wants to work and that’s why employers are having trouble hiring.  Which is ridiculous because in Econ 101 we start with the assumption that nobody wants to work!  That’s why we have to pay people to work!  I explained that not working for pay doesn’t mean you’re not productive.  Many people would rather do meaningful charitable or creative work for free than work for pay.  We call it leisure in our models, but that doesn’t mean people are just watching tv.  (Deep down I do believe that most of us probably want to read books and watch tv and play videogames… the so-called technophysio revolution in leisure time, but working for The Man isn’t in any way morally superior than playing animal crossing.  But the current propaganda have made my students believe it is.
  • The part they’re forgetting is that nobody wants to work at current wages!  Econ 101 works both ways.  The current equilibrium is at a higher wage, which isn’t surprising in a world with high inflation!!  The reason companies are having trouble hiring is because *employers aren’t offering enough money.*

RBOC

  • I went in a new direction (like new to everyone, but also new to me, somewhat related to other stuff I’ve done) and had a really hard time publishing in it.  Finally after landing my main paper at a field journal and finishing up an NSF grant I was like, all new projects will be back in my core competency.  I will just finish these up and be done with this area.
  • I was like, next up I am going to find some interesting source of state-level law variation and do a difference-in-differences analysis of it and just write a nice easily publishable not-that-innovative paper.  Of course, then all the problems with two way fixed effects came out and that was kind of a blow there.  I’m like c’mon dude.
  • And then I was invited to an important society thing (I mentioned this earlier– not new news) and I was like, huh, maybe I shouldn’t give up entirely on this new direction.
  • And I’m supposed to be designing a new class and it was either going to be something in my core competency or something more in the new direction and there are textbooks for the new direction and it sounds like not many people are particularly interested in my core competency so I could do all the prep and still not have it make, whereas the new direction will make.
  • Meanwhile people are contacting me saying my new direction had inspired them and can they talk to me about their plans to repeat or extend my work into new areas.  Also I’m a co-editor at a related new journal (though I’m also a co-editor at a journal for my core competency).
  • I got asked to do a keynote in Europe for my new direction this summer.  Then the same week I got asked to give a keynote at a workshop at the major field conference (that I’ve never been to…) in the fall.
  • At this point, I’m like… I think the universe wants me to keep doing this other thing and maybe not so much with what I’m mostly known for.
  • I have this stuck in my head.  It is a guitar version of Song for a lonely music box.  I want them to find each other and become friends.
  • It has come to my attention that Emily Oster is making economists look bad by using conclusions first, justification later.  This is an Emily Oster thing that she’s been known for since her job market paper was shown to be heavily flawed (Steve Levitt is similar, though he’s thought to be fraudulent, whereas Emily Oster is just thought to be sloppy).  Please don’t judge all economists by one economist.  Many of us don’t publish as much or as quickly because we’re careful and when we see a result that’s too good to be true we beat it up to see how robust it is and we’re honest about its flaws.  This is called the “credibility revolution“.  But not all economists were trained in it, and for some the training may not have taken because sometimes you’re rewarded for flashy results even if they turn out to be the product of bad inputs later.  (I wouldn’t be rewarded for them, I don’t think, but also my robustness check training is a big part of who I am.)
  • DC2 is really into a show on Netflix called “Is it cake?”  The show is exactly what it sounds like.
  • My leg lumps and arm lump are most consistent with lipomas according to the u/s.  Instead of there just being one lump in my right leg, it turns out there’s a lipoma family (the tech’s words, not mine) there with one very large one and a few smaller ones.  That part of my leg has started twitching occasionally as well.  So, probably not cancer, which is good.  But …
  • My friend’s son who was waitlisted at Harvard and MIT got into Brown, Cornell, and Duke (in addition to our state flagship).  So there’s hope for the rest of us after all.  The high school valedictorian got into Harvard and MIT.
Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: . 28 Comments »

RBOC

  • I thought our county’s Covid case rates would start rising about a week after Spring Break.  Turns out no, we were back up to like 44 per 100K by the ending weekend of Spring Break.
  • DC2 doesn’t have a cellphone yet.  So occasionally one of us will have to leave a cellphone with DC2 and go without.  I’m astonished how bad I am out in public without a cellphone.  Both in terms of things like forgetting to make sure I know where I’m going (I had to stop by my office to look at a computer) and in having an excuse to be by myself not talking to people.  And just entertaining myself while I wait.  Sometimes a pad and paper are enough, but sometimes I’m out of thinking.  Also I have discovered I do not like the radio– current pop music seems to be not that great (very heavy on autotune which irritates me) and they’re playing a lot of hits from a few years back which are fine, but boring, and oldies are boring, and news is depressing and there’s no classical station.  Also the funky college radio station I used to listen to at night with world music seems to be no more.  I ended up on the mariachi station until it became talk radio.  I’m so spoiled with podcasts!
  • Both DH and I have this problem where all of the dear hank and john podcast episodes we’ve downloaded seem to disappear whenever a new one downloads.  This doesn’t seem to happen with any of our other podcasts.  It is unpleasant!
  • At the beginning of the semester, DC2 pledged to read 100 chapter books and write little flowers on them before some date.  Zie registered this goal with the school library.  The problem is that zie runs out of the flowers to fill out and ends up holding onto library books forever.  Finally I gave up and found the printout online.  Here it is from Crayola in case you’re in the same situation.  (The other problem is that this sort of thing can turn intrinsic motivation into extrinsic, but I doubt that will have a large effect on DC2’s desire to read. At least not if we keep finding good books.)
  • Sugru that has been expired for 2 years no longer works.
  • DC1 spent some of Spring Break practice driving.  Zie is WAY more coordinated than I ever was.  I suspect DC2 will have more trouble since zie, like me, also has occasional trouble with binaries like left vs. right.  I didn’t suspect I had undiagnosed dyslexia until it was so obvious that DC1 doesn’t.
  • The #2 senior at DC1’s high school (and one of my friend’s kids) got waitlisted from early decision at Harvard and waitlisted at MIT.  This is crazy because he has (literally) perfect SAT scores, including on subject tests he took back as a freshman/sophomore, does a sport, started a chemistry club, got high scores on all the AMC10/12 style exams and qualified for the next round for math/chemistry/physics (yes, all three), is on all the academic teams and does well at them, has straight As (is ranked #2), volunteers (including a summer of candy-striping), didn’t apply for need-based aid, etc. etc. etc.  I think some of what happened was that a number of his friends applied early decision to MIT and got in, so now they have too many from our high school already (plus several of their friends from last year and the year before are all at MIT).  He also had kind of a bad letter from the crazy AP world history teacher (the amazing AP US history teacher died this year :( )– she thought it was a good letter but she’s crazy so it wasn’t.  His college essays were also a bit unfocused and didn’t really tell a story about *him*.  But even so, he is a total package and my own DC1 is like, if he didn’t get into MIT… We’re hoping that the dice go the other way at at least one of the ivies he applied to.
  • DC1 is also hoping that the psychology teacher will count as a humanities reference since the English teachers are fascist, except the freshman one who was just not very bright, and the Spanish teacher last year actively disliked DC1 and the one this year is a little odd in sort of a pro-hallucinogens sort of way and will be upset that DC1 isn’t taking Spanish V with her next year (we urged Spanish V + this teacher as rec letter, but DC1 says zie isn’t learning anything this year in Spanish IV).  Zie skipped AP human geography, but that teacher is super racist so that isn’t a loss.  I guess the world history teacher is racist too, specifically against Indians and Muslims.  It really is such a shame about the wonderful AP US History teacher, both from an unselfish perspective and from an entirely selfish one.  DC1 was at least lucky to be able to take a course from him while he was still healthy.
  • My step-cousin died last week of cancer + heart failure.  She was my age, only a couple of months younger. I’d only met her a couple times, once as a child after my awful uncle married her evil mother, and once at my grandma’s funeral (she wasn’t allowed to attend her brother’s wedding).  They had a go-fund-me and I saw most of my liberal relatives donated a lot of money for medical expenses (I donated $100 anonymously, my mom and one of my aunts donated $500 while another donated $1,000).  At my grandmother’s funeral my awful uncle (a forest ranger) tried to get me (an economics professor) into an argument about “death panels” that was only shut down when my other uncle who had actually been taking care of my grandma while her Alzheimer’s got worse broke in to say he wished he had known my grandma’s wishes before she was too far gone to make decisions herself.  I’m still waiting to find out where to send a condolences card.  This is the first one that probably isn’t covid related since the pandemic started.
  • A subset of Mommy bloggers and commenters seem to be complaining about children wanting to keep their masks on at school.  As if that’s a crazy thing to do when we have BA2 on the horizon (I predict a spike ~2 weeks after kids get back from Spring Break [Update: started spiking up before classes restarted]) and 5-11 aren’t boosted and under 5s aren’t vaccinated.  Like, anxiety about this is not actually irrational. They’re also complaining about kids wearing masks outside which, dude, it’s not a big deal.  Personally, I’m still keeping my mask on indoors with other people (even with covid rates under 11 per 100K, which is what a lot of experts use as a comfort level for indoor dining) not because I am worried about ME getting covid (though many of my colleagues think that’s why, and to be fair, DC2 isn’t boosted and long covid is something I would really like to prevent DC2 from getting), but because I want people who are trying to protect themselves or to protect other people to feel comfortable keeping theirs on.  So they’re not the only one wearing a mask.  I’m completely willing to make that sacrifice, and I’m willing to make that sacrifice because I’ve invested in comfortable, breathable masks that fit me so it’s not actually much of a sacrifice.  These (upper-middle class White) women who want to shame healthy people for wearing masks because said women are “over covid” and their kids are healthy and they already had covid and are fine are unbelievably selfish.  It’s like middle school!  But mommy forums/blogs/etc. have always been kind of like middle school, I guess.  Hopefully not this one!
  • DC1 finally got hir Christmas/birthday presents from my sister when we took advantage of the low Covid rates to head into the city.  One of the things zie got was two *new* editions of ZITS comic books.  Previously they had old copies from like 20-30 years ago (maybe mine?  maybe a hand-me-sideways from #2?)  It’s a little crazy how spot on the new ones are about the mom in ways that the old ones were completely farcical (IMO).  It is in fact, a little creepy.  I keep telling DC1 to be more like Hector (without the sideburns though) and less like Jeremy.  (Or more like Francis and less like Nate if we’re talking middle-school comics.)  There’s also a TON of PDA in the new comics that didn’t show up 20-odd years ago.  Like, Sarah and Jeremy are splayed all over each other while Jeremy’s parents’ are also in the room.
  • Youtube seems to really want me to buy a $500+ composter.  I looked into it and it seems like maybe not as environmentally friendly as our current technique of putting scraps on a plate and then taking them out to the compost pile once a day.  Plus $35/month to buy replacement carbon filters or else it smells bad.  Our compote plate fits in the dishwasher.
Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: . 36 Comments »

RBOC

  • My body has started getting more random lumps, so I finally went into the doctor a third time and asked for that u/s she said I could get for the lump in my leg that is probably a hematoma or a lipoma but could instead be a highly unlikely cancer.  It will take a month and a half to get said u/s.  DH (who is not a radiologist nor a medical doctor) did a couple of u/s before this most recent visit (he has an u/s from his previous job) and it doesn’t appear to be growing, but the addition of more lumps (one on the top of my leg, one on my right arm) is concerning.
  • DC2 attended a birthday party.  It’s 4 kids (hir best friend group from before the grade-skip who zie regularly minecrafts with) and 100% outside.  The birthday kid’s family has had covid twice already so probably has had delta and omicron (from daycare– the kid’s two younger siblings are too young to be vaccinated) and one of the other kids has had it at least once (also has a younger sibling at daycare) and they’re all vaccinated.  I think DC2 will probably be the only masked kid, but it’s outside so I’m sure it’s fine.  (Yes, yes, you probably don’t need to mask outside, but also I know of a super-spreader event back with alpha where the kids didn’t put their masks back on to go inside to use the restroom.)  Last year’s birthday party was supposed to be at the zoo (we said no because DC2 wasn’t vaccinated yet and yelp was full of pictures of anti-maskers at the zoo) but got cancelled either because of a snowstorm or because of delta, I can’t remember, and they ended up playing minecraft again.
  • Update:  DC2 was the only kid who masked and the party did move inside for part of it.  DC2 kept hir mask on (and was the only person masked in the indoor pictures).
  • FIL came and visited on the way to a hunt.  I took a test that morning (negative) and we asked him to take a test when he got in (also negative).  He spent the night and stayed another day and night before heading back out.
  • I had a lipoma on my back once in my 20s but it wasn’t as deep as these lumps are and was obviously a lipoma.  It was surgically removed at a dermatology office at the university.
  • I’ve gotten some IRL people hooked on behealthyusa.net.  One of my friends was bemoaning how they’d finally put their daughter back in daycare only to have the vaccine timeline for 0-5 get moved again.  I gave her a set of 5 disposable kids masks of different kinds because I had extras (because I have a problem or because DC2 changes hir mind, you decide) and hir daughter fell in love with the POSH small mask.  They bought 100!  (For $160, or $1.60/mask which is a really good deal. Especially if they get all the designs listed, some of which are out of stock otherwise.)  Then one of my graduate RAs was bemoaning how he can’t find disposable masks that fit his larger head, only cloth, and I was like, have you tried extra large BOTN?  And he was like, oh hey, this is where people have been getting those masks with the cool designs and my wife the K-12 teacher is totally going to order a ton of them.  (Also I gave him a Honeywell and a 3M Aura, but those are N95 which aren’t as convenient as KF94.)
  • The schools continue to have exposures even though official numbers have dropped (they’re still not low numbers!)  But I’m hopeful that things will get better.  Of course every time I get hopeful there’s a new variant, so maybe I should stay pessimistic!
  • I will continue to enjoy the fact that I have a Posh mask that matches my houndstooth pants and another Posh mask that exactly matches one of my dresses.  And another that matches one of my skirts!
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