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 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.)


  • The private school that DC1 went to for K-4 went out of business.  Luckily DC2 seems to be enjoying dual language in the public schools.  I switched my amazon smile account over to the Planned Parenthood in the nearest city.  I’m not sure what DH will be switching his over to (I suggested ACLU).
  • I got some summer money so now our emergency fund has been completely refilled.
  • DH has gotten into the idea of buying a new mattress and has been investing more time in it than I would, which for now means I’m not immediately rage buying one online.  Last week during a lunch break he went to a local mattress store and tried a bunch of mattresses (he likes tempurapedic memory foam) and wrote down how firm he thought they were.  Next he went online and tried to find firmness levels for those specific mattresses.  He’s hoping to be able to use that information should we decide to buy a bed in a box online.  [update:  it did not help because mattresses sold in stores exist nowhere else, apparently]
  • I was talking to a finance professor at a conference this summer and he told me that upper-middle-class people such as myself should be invested in 100% stocks until age 45 or so because the variation between stocks and jobloss isn’t close enough to make it worthwhile to invest in bonds.  I’m not sure how I feel about that, but something worth thinking about.  I should probably purge my retirement accounts of bonds and shift any bond over to taxable, if I’m going to have bonds.  But I will probably put all of this off.
  • In the end we decided to take the king bed plunge and went with Loom and Leaf.  Sadly they didn’t have a platform bed option (and the place we got our last platform bed no longer sells them!) So we ended up getting a Best Price Mattress Model E from Amazon.  There is some concern that Amazon may send the wrong item, but Walmart was out of king-size and Target doesn’t carry this brand.  We went with for new sheets and mattress pads.  We haven’t actually *gotten* the mattress yet because we need a two week window in which we can guarantee one of us will be home to let them in to take away our old mattress and box springs.  But we did order the bed and sheets…
  • DH’s employer bought everyone new laptops, and the result is equivalent to his four-year old desktop for the same price (except for a better monitor and graphics card).  The price was the same.  So the price of portability is about 4 years of technological progress.

What do you have your amazon smile account linked to?


  • My car just starts now when I try to start it.  It’s amazing.
  • I made shrimp paste for the first time and it was surprisingly easy and surprisingly tasty.  I may need to try some more retro sandwich pastes now.
  • We’re starting to get into the dregs of completing my best of cooking light cookbook.  That sometimes leads to surprising discoveries, but more often there’s a reason we put off those recipes instead of doing them right away (usually because they look like effort, and they turn out to be effort).
  • Grrr.  Stupid Republican Tax Bill means that I now have to pay taxes on my already too-expensive work parking.  But there’s really no way to not have an annual permit given where my office is.  (Like, we could move our housing and live closer to a bus stop, but there’s no way to live in walking distance.)
  • We did back-to-school shopping later than usual this year and man was it picked over.  And what is up with schools wanting 12×18 papers of various kinds and neither Target nor Walmart stocking them?
  • DC1 has recently discovered that if you want to keep your new card deck from clumping, you have to wash and dry your hands before touching it.  (DC1 is really into card tricks these days.)
  • One of the daycamps (a programming camp!) we were sending DC1 to had a truly ridiculous waiver that they wanted us to sign off on– absolving them of all wrong and disallowing lawsuits even should they be criminally negligent and agreeing to pay their court fees should we sue anyway.  We refused to sign it.  They let us drop DC1 off anyway, but then called and said they couldn’t take hir so DH had to pick hir back up.  All of the camps we send our kids to have waivers and some are pretty silly (the university math camp last year listed “pencil injuries” in the form blank of example injuries), but this one seemed dangerously so.  Especially since it’s a small company and doesn’t have the reputational concerns that say, the university has (although they said the rule was a franchise rule).  Ugh, so that’s another $400 of DDA account money that isn’t getting spent, on top of the $295 for a camp that was cancelled.
  • On Sunday we didn’t have any posts queued and #2 suggested a summer vacation for the blog.  Except I’m sure there’s a question I need to ask you all but I cannot remember what it is.  Wouldn’t it be horrible to have no readership and no twitter account when I needed advice on a purchase?  So that’s why this RBOC is [ed:  was before I put in a couple more bullets Monday morning] shorter than usual– it was pulled from drafts without having time to truly marinate.
  • Remember that whole house water filter we bought that took forever to get installed?  This is a picture of the first filter after 3 months.  No wonder our unfiltered water was so gross.
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  • Lately I’ve been feeling a bit creative about foods.  For example, I recently decided to make savory pancakes with Northwoods seasoning (similar to Emeril’s, but available from Penzey’s– kind of a paprika thyme garlic salt mix) and no sugar, just eggs, flour, a little olive oil, and seasoning.  We also made a roasted red pepper dip that I really want to add sour cream to and use as the base cream for a vegetable tart which would be like a fruit tart but with roasted veggies instead of fruit and this red pepper cream instead of custard.  Maybe puff pastry on the bottom.  I wish we still had easy access to WW puff pastry squares with butter like we did back in Paradise.
  • When dealing with blog/internet drama, we often ask, “What would Scalzi do?”  That’s generally a good guide.
  • I made the mistake of looking at the youtube comments on Georgy Girl (the song) and they were full of misogynist men ranting about feminists and how songs like this were so wholesome (and to go to the Ukraine to get wives because they’re totally subservient)… but… Georgy Girl (the movie) is one of the least innocent movies I’ve ever seen.  Maybe these commenters see themselves in the position of the creepy rich old man at the end (more likely they just don’t actually know anything).  (Georgy Girl is definitely a movie that works as a cautionary tale for women to never be dependent on a man!)
  • I’ve noticed my OCD tendencies gradually getting worse.  I suspect this has to do with feeling like I have no locus of control with world events.  So nameplates need to be centered and teas need to be organized and categorizing things is even more soothing than usual.  (Looking at my home and workplace you’d never know I had these tendencies unless you looked at my spices or my bookcases.  I am a very alphabetized slob.)
  • My fear of crowds has also gotten worse since I had that panic attack at the first women’s march.  I had to do CBT breathing walking around a dealer’s hall at a spec fic convention in a nearby city, which is something I haven’t really had to do before because the level of crowding didn’t used to hit my panic-meter (unlike, say, amusement parks during the busy season).
  • I am excited that wide pants are coming back (at least where I live– my most recent trip to the east coast shows they’re still wearing skin-tight pants) and that ripped jeans are in and that it’s summer.  This means I was able to unearth my favorite pair of jeans that got put into storage many years ago because the knee is ripped across and I am a grown-up.  They are SO COMFY!  And fashionable!
  • If you hate a lot of people, chances are I am one of them.  (Not counting the hate we should all have for fascists and racists and Nazis.)  Except #2 likes me, which is the exception that proves the rule.
  • Obviously the room labeled “Quiet Area” is where you go to have a conversation. Of course. Because it’s quiet.
  • DC1 was in the “worst” (and largest) of 3 orchestras in middle school this past year.  Zie was kind of upset because zie had hoped zie would at least make it into the middle orchestra after the previous year, even though zie started a year behind (in 5th grade zie played trumpet while we were on leave instead of violin).  Zie worked super hard this year, practicing at least 30 min/day every day and doing more pointed practicing (zie read the intro to “Practice Perfect” and a lot of what hir previous orchestra teacher had been trying to say about how to practice finally made sense), and we got a better (and very strict) outside teacher who started teaching hir basic stuff like how to correctly hold a bow.  (DH and I both played brass so we are completely clueless when it comes to strings.)  Zie is one of TWO kids moving from the enormous “bad” orchestra to the smaller “best” orchestra.  (Most of the movement comes from the middle orchestra to the small best one or from the best players at the previous school.) We weren’t expecting this outcome at all– DC1 had been hoping to make it to the middle orchestra and is worried that zie isn’t ready for the small elite one, but we have 3 months and lots of summer lessons for hir to get ready.  I’m super proud at how hard zie has worked.  :)
  • The fourth child (third daughter) of DH’s relative is going to graduate from high school a year early (!) and has definite college plans.  She wants to be either a teacher or a journalist, but probably a teacher (because her top choice state school isn’t the journalism school but has a good teaching program).  We told the relative not to bother with community college since she’s state-school eligible and we would 100% foot the bill.  We’re trying paying for high school summer camp for her even though that didn’t work out well for the oldest when we tried 7 or so years ago because of homesickness.  But they are different people.  And if there is homesickness, I guess that will help make the community college or not decision.  It would really be nice if the last two kids get degrees right out of high school.
  • i made chicken tetrazzini (cooking light style) and I really liked it.  It was a real comfort food which is odd because it isn’t one my family made, but definitely a midwestern potluck staple.  So much comfort food that is out of style these days.  I did leave out the pimiento and increased the mushrooms and roux (with milk in place of water) instead of using a can of cream of mushroom soup.  So updated a bit and the cooking light version had more veggie than the tetrazzini of my youth.
  • I saw a high temp forecasted for tomorrow and I said, I kid you not, “Holy schnorkles!”  I do not know what has happened to my words.
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