Football – a debate

by Louise

With fall fast approaching, we return to sports at all levels – school, college and pro. A big one is football.

I was discussing football with my kid and he mentioned that students were out of school due to football related concussions. I happened to have lunch with a bunch of people and one guy was very opposed to his kid playing football. Then, I watch Last Chance U where football seems to be the only way out for young men from disadvantaged backgrounds. They want to play in spite of concussions hoping that they will be recruited to big football schools. I was troubled by this.

Next, I see this article on CTE.

CTE found in 99% of studied brains from deceased NFL players

What do you think ? Do you think football will continue as is or will people slowly turn away ? Will kids continue to play given the emerging research ? Discuss.

Vermin

by Honolulu Mother

Here’s a topic to make everyone cringe: What problem creatures tend to infest homes or yards in your area, and what do you do to fight them off?

In Hawaii, we don’t have cold winters to knock back the insect population, and we have flying cockroaches of a size only seen in most mainlanders’ nightmares, colloquially known as B-52s.

You can sprinkle borax along all your walls, and put out Hoy Hoy traps regularly, but they *will* get into your house, and on a still and muggy night lovelorn roaches will take to the air.

We also have centipedes (mostly outside, thank goodness) in our insect arsenal, and of course termites are responsible for a great deal of property damage. And we have the usual rodent suspects. And while I wouldn’t personally class them as vermin (because they eat termites and other bugs), geckos are a constant presence in Hawaii homes.

What unusual vermin does your area have? And, do you have any vermin-fighting tips?

Dress up for kids

by L

I thought we could talk about dress-up clothes and behavior for kids (since it is on my mind). How many Totebaggers’ kids have been in weddings? How old were they? From where were their outfits sourced? What would you consider “too much” to spend on a flower girl or junior bridesmaid dress? Or a navy blazer for boys? Do you let your kids run wild at weddings and/or get their fancy clothes filthy?

The last time one of my kids was in a wedding was when #1 was 2, and I borrowed a dress for her that time and had to walk with her down the aisle. Now all 3 of ours will be in our nanny’s wedding next year, so I will have to buy all their outfits.

Pets!

by laurafrombaltimore

What pets do you have? What do you like best about them? What drives you nuts?

I’ve recently posted about fostering kittens, and about how in the process I was adopted by a rescue cat who was missing a leg (thanks to some pitiful excuse for a human being who thought it would be fun to shoot her). We have now taken “Shelly”* home, and here are the first pictures of her making herself at home in the kids’ dump zone. She is sort of ridiculously sweet and friendly given what she went through.

*”Shelly” is what the shelter named her. Please give us some better ideas, we’re running low on creativity.

8/15/17 UPDATE:  SECOND PHOTO ADDED

 

Can Money Buy Happiness After All?

by Honolulu Mother

The Washington Post found a recent study so interesting that they reported on it twice:

Yes, you can buy happiness – if you spend it to save time

One surprising way money can buy happiness, according to scientists

In the study, people were given $40 and told to spend it on some fun item, and then given $40 again the next week and told to spend it on something to save them time. They reported greater happiness from the purchase than the fun-item group. The study concluded that you can buy more happiness from spending on anything from take-out to a yard service or weekly cleaners than from spending the same amount on material things.

We may be in the Totebag minority in not having a cleaning service or yard service, and we also go pretty light on the dining out or takeout. My first reaction was to wonder if my household is missing a good thing here. My second reaction was to wonder if the study had really accounted for hedonic adaptation, i.e. the idea that if you normally take care of some task yourself but one time you have someone else do it for you, it feels *great*, but if you always outsource it, that just feels normal. For example, when I get back from a vacation I always have a few days of adjustment to the idea that no, really, we do have to provision and prepare all the meals and yes, we really do have to go back to work. Then I settle back in and the routine feels normal again.

So what does the Totebag think? Is outsourcing pesky tasks really a surer route to happiness than saving for a family vacation or other goals? Or is this study missing a distinction between outsourcing something as an occasional treat versus routinely?

Open thread

We have an open thread today all day.

Here’s a topic on my mind.

How to Pack a Suitcase

Many of you will be pleased that packing cubes are recommended.  Right now I’m looking for a more efficient toiletry bag, one that hangs on a hotel door hook..

In shopping for a rolling bag recently I noticed that four wheels (spinners) seem more popular than two wheels.  I prefer two wheels because it’s slightly more compact and I don’t notice the extra ease of a four-wheeler.

At what age did your children become mostly responsible for packing their own suitcases?

Cord blood banking

by Finn

In a recent discussion, Ada posted this link:

A stem cell transplant helped beat back a young doctor’s cancer. Now, it’s assaulting his body

It describes someone who had leukemia, and used a stem cell transplant as
part of a treatment regimen, but it is now causing him problems.

This led me to wonder whether he’d not be having these problems if he had
his own stem cells as a source for the transplant.

It also led me to today’s questions:

Have you banked your kids’ cord blood? If not, why not?

The Good Old Days

by Louise

Posters mention now and again their days as children and young adults. I find these a fascinating description of time and place.  Though most of our experiences may be positive, some may not be.

These days pictures and slide shows on Facebook pop up to remind us what happened a couple of years ago.  But prior to that there was just memory, faded pictures and some of you have mentioned home movies.

Describe your good old or bad old days.

What Feature Do You Wish Your Home Had?

by Seattle Soccer Mom

The recent NY Times obit about Frances Gabe, inventor of the self-cleaning house, had me thinking about features I would like in a house. From the NY Times:

Ms. Gabe, a once-celebrated inventor who died in obscurity late last year, was the creator, and long the sole inhabitant, of the world’s only self-cleaning house….

“Housework is a thankless, unending job,” she told The Ottawa Citizen in 1996. “It’s a nerve-twangling bore. Who wants it? Nobody!”…

In each room, Ms. Gabe, tucked safely under an umbrella, could press a button that activated a sprinkler in the ceiling. The first spray sent a mist of sudsy water over walls and floor. A second spray rinsed everything. Jets of warm air blew it all dry. The full cycle took less than an hour.

Runoff escaped through drains in Ms. Gabe’s almost imperceptibly sloping floors. It was channeled outside and straight through her doghouse, where the dog was washed in the bargain.

Frances Gabe, Creator of the Only Self-Cleaning Home, Dies at 101

My dream is for a recirculating shower – clean water while I get clean – then a switch I can flip so the water recirculates (and is reheated) while I stand, guilt-free, under the lovely warm water. What’s your dream feature?

Reading the Fine Print

by Honolulu Mother

I have to admit, I don’t usually read the lengthy terms and conditions that one sometimes needs to click to accept for a software installation or to use an organization’s wifi. So I would have been one of the (great majority of) people blithely agreeing to manually unclog sewer pipes or paint snail shells here:

22,000 People Agreed to Clean Toilets by Logging on to Wi-Fi

For waivers for things like horseback riding or ziplining, I’ll at least skim through to make sure nothing looks out of place. But I’m not reading those particularly closely either — yes, I know there are risks, and it’s not like the terms are open to negotiation.

Are others more careful readers of the fine print? Have any other skimmers or skippers been burned by the casual approach?

Totebag AUGUST 2017 30-Day Challenge Kick-off — August 1-4

Today is the first day of the August 2017 Totebag 30-Day Challenge.

All participants will choose their personalized activity.  Use the comments to let us know if you are participating and what activity/goal you have selected.  During the week you can check in with your progress.

Next month we will have a new 30-day challenge.  Maybe we’ll make it a regular thing.

(We also have a regular post today so don’t miss it.)

Let’s go! Good luck to all of us!

Guilty pleasures

by July

What’s your latest guilty pleasure?

Martha Stewart sounds a bit totebaggy.

“My guilty pleasure is not at all interesting: It’s a spoon of really good organic peanut butter, or a slice of American cheese from my housekeeper’s drawer. I steal American slices sometimes — in the plastic, it’s so horrible. But it’s such a good snack. I eat pickled herring as a late-night snack before I go to bed because it’s savory and good. I like liverwurst, and I know how bad it is now. I love squeezing it out of the tube and just eating calves’ liverwurst.” – Town & Country, June 2017

Some of you may relate to some of the guilty pleasures confessed by these women, including trashy TV, reading all the time, and property (?).

25 Famous Women on Their Guilty Pleasures

Since I follow some celebrities and other people with fabulous lifestyles on Instagram, I can relate to this one.

“Following Justin Bieber on Instagram.” – The Guardian, July 2016

2017 30-DAY CHALLENGE INTRODUCTION

by July

A few people expressed interest in a new 30-day challenge, similar to the one we did last year.  Here are a some activities, suggested from last year and from other sources.

  • Do It Now (Take care of a small chore each day.  Examples might include changing a closet light bulb, cleaning out your refrigerator door shelves, or doing a Goodwill run.)
  • Planks
  • 10,000 Steps or other walking/running
  • Exercise
  • Reading
  • Decluttering, including the 30-Day Minimalism Game where you start off getting rid of one thing the first day and then keep increasing each day until on the last day you get rid of 30 things.  (Tricky!)

We don’t all have to select the same activity.

Respond in the comments if you’d like to participate and with any other suggestions.   We can start on August 1 or another time.  We can even make it a two-month interval (August and September) and let participants choose their most convenient 30 days.  Share your thoughts.

College majors, career paths, and salaries

by July

Students’ career paths after college are often surprising and difficult to predict given students’ majors. Not only do students from the same major transition into a surprising variety of occupations, they also earn very different incomes: to take one example, the 3.4 percent of English majors who become managers earn a median salary of $77,000, while the 8.3 percent of their counterparts who become elementary and middle school teachers earn $51,000. Different career paths and the associated earnings differences for students with the same college major are pervasive and important for understanding both the benefits of college majors and of college itself.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, we have calculated annual median earnings for men and women of various ages who have graduated with a particular major and entered a given occupation. For each group of college graduates, we show the most common types of jobs, as well as the fractions of graduates who are unemployed, out of the labor force, and employed full- or part-time. In addition, among each group of workers with a particular major, we show the range of annual earnings and the percent who obtained education beyond a bachelor’s degree for the most common types of jobs. This interactive is intended to be a resource for those who seek a better understanding of how their college major can be used, as well as those interested in how college specialization and the labor market interact.

You can play with the interactive charts at The Hamilton Project.  Unfortunately these charts don’t take into account one of our favorite topics, college selectivity.

Companies moving back downtown?

by MooshiMooshi

Are companies really moving back downtown?

The Washington Post is reporting that after years of corporate headquarters moving to the suburbs, the reverse is now happening.

As companies relocate to big cities, suburban towns are left scrambling

And of course, this means that opportunities for well paid jobs become even more concentrated in an handful of big cities.

I think there is another interesting quote, somewhat buried in the article.

… Years ago, IT operations were an afterthought. Now, people with such expertise are driving top-level corporate decisions, and many of them prefer urban locales.

“It used to be the IT division was in a back office somewhere,” Emanuel said. “The IT division and software, computer and data mining, et cetera, is now next to the CEO. Otherwise, that company is gone.

Perhaps this is why the current tech bubble feels less bubbley to me.
Do you notice either of these trends?

What Weird Food Do You Order Online?

by Honolulu Mother

This NYMag article, and the one on cult condiments linked at the bottom, made me think of the various oddball food items I get from Amazon.

I Only Want to Cook With Things in Tubes

We buy the little tubes of hollandaise and bearnaise sauce (the Christian Poitier stuff — it’s pretty good!), curry pastes, sausage casings, fancy maraschino cherries from Tillen Farms, all of them things that if found locally at all will be pricey specialty items.

I’ve also been known to order Irish-style bangers and white and black puddings from some outfit in NJ. And I have to admit, I’m very tempted by a place in Maine that does smoked haddock, if I can ever talk myself into paying the shipping. (It was that year I spent in Ireland way back when that formed these particular tastes.)

What foods do others order online? Any that you’d recommend generally?

Babies born with opioid addiction

by L

Caring for babies born with opioid addiction – what are Totebaggers’ thoughts? What policies would help? What do you think about this mother’s chances of gaining custody? How about her naming choices?

A tide of opioid-dependent newborns forces doctors to rethink treatment

Also:

When the Mother of an Opioid-Dependent Newborn Hears, ‘You Can’t Have Your Baby’

Fashion pet peeves

by July

One of my pet peeves, men wearing shirts with long shirt tails hanging outside their pants, came up in a recent post from Ann Althouse.

Untuckit is a profitable new business that sells a men’s “shirt with a shorter hem that is designed to be worn to be untucked”.  It’s a neater alternative to longer, sloppier shirt tails and is marketed as suitable for casual work dress.

Additionally, the tucked-in t-shirt is now in style.

What do you think, tucked or untucked?  Do you have any fashion pet peeves?  What’s a look, for men or women, that you cannot abide?

Open thread

We have an open thread all day today.

Last week I started a 30-day challenge to improve my balance.  I selected some daily exercises, including standing on one leg and  a One-Legged Squat Reach.  But the one-legged squat proved too challenging (especially for my left leg), so instead I bought a Wobble Balance Board and am trying out a few basic exercises with it.

Last year I was successful with my 30-day plank challenge so I have high hopes for this balance project.  If anyone wants to do a group 30-day challenge similar to the one we did last year let me know and I can set it up.  In the meantime I’ll post periodic updates on my progress.

Taking down David Brooks

by MooshiMooshi

I usually try to tour the conservative websites each week to see what is being discussed (except for WSJ because of its paywall and Breitbart because it is just too icky). While I think there are better sites than RedState – it reminds me of Huffington Post with its generally breathless tone and overheated headlines – but sometimes they really get it and this takedown of the obnoxious David Brooks column really hit the nail on the head. It is hilarious. I find myself agreeing with much of it (ok, ok, not the school choice point which I think will lead to more stratification, not less, and in fact Stella Artois is a working class beer, in France anyway). After reading David Brooks smarmy column:

How We Are Ruining America

read read the RedState takedown and giggle.

David Brooks And The DOA Column: A RedState Autopsy

Americans Wary of Being Alone with Opposite Sex

by Seattle Soccer Mom

From a poll conducted on behalf of the NY Times:

  • 25% think private work meetings with colleagues of the opposite sex are inappropriate.
  • 30-40% say it’s inappropriate to be in a car with someone of the opposite sex.
  • Nearly two-thirds say people should take extra caution around members of the opposite sex at work.
  • A majority of women, and nearly half of men, say it’s unacceptable to have dinner or drinks alone with someone of the opposite sex other than their spouse.

These findings surprised me. I supervise both men and women and have weekly meetings (one on one) with the people I supervise. My office door is generally open unless we’re doing a performance review or discussing sensitive information. I wouldn’t be able to do my job if I couldn’t meet with men. I was surprised that 25% of the people in the poll said this would be inappropriate. I’ve also been in cars with men when we’ve gone to off-site meetings – not a big deal. I was surprised that so many people thought this would be inappropriate.

Totebaggers – what do you think of the poll results? Any that you agree or disagree with? Here’s a link to the article:

It’s Not Just Mike Pence. Americans Are Wary of Being Alone With the Opposite Sex.

Are you afraid of wiping out your savings?

by Lauren

There are very few financial decisions that I disagree with my husband about, but we don’t agree on whether we need long-term care insurance. I read this article and reminded him about my concerns about certain illnesses that can wipe out even large amounts of savings. I’ve seen this with some of my friends with parents or grandparents that lived for many years after a stroke, or even my grandmother that survived 9 years after she exhausted her savings at the age of 90.

Do you have concerns about this situation?

Open thread

by July

Open thread today all day.  To start off, here’s a question for you.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done for love?

That question comes from this Q&A a Day: 5-Year Journal.

The Q&A a Day Journal shows you what was going through your head each day—for five years of your life. Simply turn to today’s date, answer the question at the top of the page, and when you finish the journal, start over. As you return to the daily questions again over the years, you’ll notice how your answers change, or don’t!

So, what’t the craziest thing you’ve done for love?  Did it work out well?

What do you think of this journal or other ones that allow the writer to jot down short entries?  Do you keep a journal or sometimes wish you did?

Amazon Prime Day and more

by July

Are you looking for deals on Amazon Prime Day?

Though Prime Day is technically Tuesday, July 11, this year, it officially begins at 9 p.m. ET on Monday, July 10.

Let’s share Prime Day deals in the comments to this post today and tomorrow.  Also share good buys from other retailers and post your consumer questions.

ALSO:  Send in post topics because otherwise we’ll be seeing lots of open threads.

2017 Politics open thread, July 9-15

What political comments do you have this week?

This video shows world leaders preparing for their group photo.  I like seeing their facial expressions, especially Putin’s.  Do you think Merkel wears bright colors on purpose so she’ll stand out?

Emmanuel Macron jostles his way to the front of G20 photo to stand by Donald Trump

If you want to read commentary on the “fake news” about this video you can check out Ann Althouse’s blog.

The three P’s of perseverance

by July

… The seeds of resilience are planted in the way we process the negative events in our lives.

Sheryl Sandberg’s latest book is about building resilience.  Have you heard of the “three P’s”?

… After spending decades studying how people deal with setbacks, psychologist Martin Seligman found that there are three Ps — personalization, pervasiveness, and permanence — that are critical to how we bounce back from hardship,” Sandberg said. …

Here are more details.

Sheryl Sandberg spoke about her husband’s death in public for the first time in an emotional speech

Resilience is a critical life skill.  Some people seem to possess an abundance of resilience, but how much of it is is nurture and how much nature?  In other words, how much can be taught?  Do you think teaching about the three P’s can help?  Looking around you at relatives, friends, colleagues, and others, do you understand why some are more resilient than others?  Or is it mostly a mystery?  What are your thoughts?

Something else to consider. Are totebaggers as a group highly resilient, or is it more that they have not been severely tested?

Wellness

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

We often talk on the blog about health care policy, health insurance, death panels, Medicaid, etc. But at the Totebag end of the spectrum, there’s the wellness phenomenon.

The Wellness Epidemic

Do you follow any wellness practices or protocols? I’m unlikely to steam my vagina (sorry, Gwyneth) but I take some vitamins and do yoga. How about you?

Fourth of July

Happy 4th of July!  Are you celebrating with fireworks or a parade?

This latest survey from U.S. News & World Report says that Switzerland is the best country in the world.  What’s your opinion?  Do you think the USA is the best?  Or another country?  Any plans to move?  We’re still the “most powerful” country in the world according to the survey, but we’re only ranked seventh overall.

The survey ‘polled more than 21,000 people described by organizers as “business leaders, informed elites and general citizens.”’

The Best Country in the World? Survey Says It’s Switzerland

Open thread

Today we have an open thread.  Discuss anything on your mind.

Travel planning has been on my mind.  Take this survey if you’re interested.

 

I used to enjoy planning trips but over the years I’ve grown to dislike it. The researching, coordinating, and selecting seem to aggravate my tendency toward analysis paralysis. Do you have any tips to make it easier?

Questions to get a conversation going

by July

7 Questions Interesting People Always Ask in Conversations
Replace those typical (and boring, I may add) questions like ‘What do you do for a living?’ with these refreshing questions that lead to great conversations.

I’m not crazy about some of these questions, particularly the first one.  Do you like these questions?  Do you typically use them in conversations?  What are some other good questions?

For fun, let’s get to know each other better and answer these questions in the comments.  If you’re up for this, answer all seven or pick a few.

1. What’s your story?
2. What was the highlight of your day (or week)?
3. What is one of your most defining moments in life?
4. What book has influenced you the most?
5. What was your dream job growing up?
6. If you could know the absolute and total truth to one question, what question would you ask?
7. Why did you choose your profession?

Open thread

We have an open thread all day.  Here’s a topic to get you started if you’d like.

This test is strictly for fun, but if you had to pick only one of these as your strongest trait which would it be?  Wisdom, passion, courage, honesty, intuition, or kindness?  And how does that compare to your test results?

What Is Your Dominant Personality Trait?

The way you look at these images will reveal a lot about your strongest trait. Which of these do you think it will be: wisdom, passion, courage, honesty, intuition or kindness? Take this test to find out!

 

Early retirement? Cognitive decline?

by Finn

We’ve had a number of discussions here of what we’ll do, or are doing, in retirement, but among those of us not yet retired, we haven’t discussed much when we’ll retire (Milo and Fred are among the few who have).

This article raises another possible factor to consider, both in the timing of retirement and what to do in retirement:

Why Early Retirement Isn’t as Awesome as It Sounds

Do you have a target retirement date yet? Will the possibility of being affected by mental retirement and cognitive decline affect that date? Do you have plans for any activities in retirement to maintain cognitive abilities?

Summer jobs

by Finn

A recent discussion on the politics open thread got onto the subject of immigration, then onto a discussion of how a change in immigration policy has affected businesses that rely on seasonal summer workers, which led away from politics to a discussion of summer employment of Totebaggers. Apparently many employers who rely heavily on seasonal summer workers have difficulty hiring domestic workers, and rely on foreign workers on visas (Denver Dad also mentioned it could be a problem for ski areas relying on seasonal winter workers).

For those of us with HS and college kids, what are your families doing WRT summer employment? Will, or have, your kids take or taken any of the summer jobs historically associated with kids that age, e.g., lifeguard, cannery work, agricultural work, fast food, wait or kitchen staff, etc? Or would jobs more associated with career plans, such as internships, be in their past or future?

What kind of summer work did you do, and will your kids do similar work?

Local attractions

by Denver Dad

Do you take advantage of the travel/tourist places and activities in your area? I recently took the kids on a mini road trip (DW stayed home) to Gunnison and it occurred to me that I’ve lived here almost 20 years and there are still so many places around Colorado that I’ve never been to. This was my first time in Gunnison, and we saw Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, which I never even heard of until we got down there. We also stopped in Crested Butte, which I had also never been to.

Grandparents in the family picture

by Louise

This morning while reading about Melania Trump’s move to the White House, the article mentioned that her parents had moved to Washington. Wasn’t clear whether they moved to the White House too or were living separately but they had been living in the Trump Tower.

Michelle Obama’s mother lived with the family while they occupied the White House. I wonder about the impact on my kids from living with their grandparents. Perhaps my kids situation is more common than I thought.

In the situations above and in most current day situations it has been the woman’s parents in the picture, not her in-laws.

What do Totebaggers think of having grandparents in the picture ? I know some Totebaggers are grandparents themselves, what do they think ?

Tips for Traveling Overseas

By North of Boston

This summer, my family and I are traveling to Europe to celebrate my 50th birthday.  Back in my young, single days, I used to travel internationally a lot.  However, those days are long gone, and I realize that it has been over 20 years since I last went abroad.  As I think about the upcoming trip, I realize that I have a lot of random questions about traveling overseas in the modern era.  Who better to help me with my questions, I thought, than The Totebag?

Totebaggers, I would love your input on the following questions.  If you have any additional tips for traveling internationally, please share those as well.  Also, if other Totebaggers have questions about their own travels, or would just like to chat about upcoming summer trips, feel free to jump in.

  • Many totebaggers have remarked in the past that it is considered very rude these days to recline your seat if you are sitting in coach on a plane. Is that true even for overnight flights when, presumably, most people want to sleep?  I don’t want to be rude, but I also want to try to rest on the eastbound, overnight flight.
  • Even when I was young, I had a lot of trouble with jetlag when going across several timezones . What is the current thinking about ways to minimize jetlag?
  • Back InMyDay, I remember that if you wanted to use anything electric overseas, you had to carry not only a plug adapter, but also a converter to change the voltage of your items. I think I have heard that most modern electronics (e.g. laptops, chargers, etc) already have converters, so you just need the plug adapter; is that true?
  • Also InMyDay, my pre-trip preparations always involved a trip to the American Express office to get a stack of U.S. dollar traveler’s checks. How do people pay for things these days?  Can I expect that credit cards will be acceptable pretty much everywhere (we’ll be in England and France), or should I also bring cash?  If the latter, is it better to get the cash in the U.S., or wait until we’re overseas?
  • What is the best way to get cell phone service overseas (I would like to be able to get my work voicemails, and to respond to any that need immediate attention)? Should I just ask my carrier what plans they offer, or should I do something else?

Jealous of other kids?

by Denver Dad

Do you ever get jealous of other kids? I’ve mentioned quite a few times that DD plays softball and I’m one of the coaches. She loves playing, but she is just not an athlete. Over the years, I’ve seen quite a few girls who came in with little or no experience and pick it up so quickly. I can’t help feeling a bit jealous when I see them in comparison to DD.

Let’s get clean

by July

32 Unexpected Places You Should Be Cleaning In Your Home
Gross. Just…gross.

I’ll admit our sliding-glass door tracks and my jewelry have not been cleaned in a long time.  There are other places that I prefer not to think about.

Revealed: The cleaning mistakes that could make your home DIRTIER – from making the bed too often to using a feather duster (so how many are YOU guilty of?)

Who knew it was a mistake to make your bed too often?

What cleaning mistakes do you make?  Which places do you neglect to clean on a regular basis?  Are you a clean freak, at least about some things?  Or are you a slob?  Or in between?  Any cleaning tips to share?  And tell us how you handle any family conflicts that arise from different preferences among household members.

Alpha Girls

by Honolulu Mother

Here’s an article exploring what makes the cool high school girls cool, and why those same traits don’t necessarily carry over to adult success:

Why Everyone Loves the Alpha Girl

Did you fit this description in high school? Did you know other kids who did? What are they up to as adults?

The queen bee of my high school class was the queen bee from elementary school on up — no change in adolescence — and she was really perfectly nice, not relationally aggressive as described. Though she did once send her friends to ask me to trade the prize I’d won in an elementary school reading contest (a basketball hoop you could fit to a wastebasket!) for what she got as the second place finisher — I declined. But on the whole, she was the queen bee because she was pretty and athletic and generally pleasant, plus she had a six years older sister who was pretty and athletic and a popular girl herself, so from early on she was the cute junior mascot of all the high school cheerleaders. And now she is married with kids, working at something or other that her parents are very proud of (I ran into them a couple of years ago), and has enough going on in her real life that she’s not much on FB. So I don’t think she fits the pattern of this article at all.

How much do you love your job?

by July

4 Reasons I Chose To Stick With A Career I Don’t Love

Reason #2 has been mentioned here a few times.

I was fortunate that I loved my careers, if not always the specific jobs.  I even loved many of the part-time jobs I had while going to school because they involved photography, which I enjoy and even considered as a career..

What about you?  Do you love your career?  Do you love your job?  If not, why do you stick with it?  What “passions” would be part of your fantasy jobs?  What have you observed among people around you?

Families on disability

by MooshiMooshi

This article is about the rise of families living on disability benefits in rural areas, often several generations all on disability. I noticed in the article they say that the rise began in 1996. Isn’t that about the period that welfare reform was passed? Is it possible that welfare reform simply resulted in people moving to disability benefits? And why so concentrated in rural areas in the South? Perhaps because there are so few other safety net options in those areas? One might imagine that rural work is more dangerous, but at least with this family, the disabilities don’t seem to be related to rural work.

Sadly, I knew people like this back in my day, and there is one branch of my own family that would probably, if profiled, seem very similar. But, it just seems like there are more of them now.

Generations, disabled

One other thing – I know this is the difference between being a Totebagger and being a rural disability case, but I never saw ADHD as an excuse to do badly, the way this family does. We expect success from our ADHD kids, and the supports – the medication, the 504 plans, etc, are there to help them achieve success.

‘To be of use’

by Mémé

To be of use
BY MARGE PIERCY

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

This poem was read at a memorial service I attended recently, for an indomitable woman who spent the last 30 years of her life in making lives better for battered women and their children in many concrete ways. She was fierce, and never took no for an answer when government or recalcitrant donors or journalists or NIMBY types stood in her way.

I sat for quite a while after the final song. I am not ashamed of the way my life has gone – a few regrets at missed opportunities and personal failures – but I like to think that I continue to take good care of my family and with respect to the rest of the world I try to do what comes to my hand to do. But this woman extended her hand every day of her life.

Please share your experiences with this sort of individual or your own thoughts about your place in the wider world.

Open thread

Today we have an open thread all day.

Here’s one topic to get the conversation started.

Don’t Let Facebook Make You Miserable
Raw Google search data proves that we are not who we say we are on social media.

We typically share only the best aspects of our lives on social media and that can make other people feel miserable about their own lives.  For young people Instagram has been found to be the worst site for mental health, apparently “driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety”.

I’m as guilty as the the rest since most of my posts are about the happier moments of my life and I’m sometimes tempted to go too far in using photo filters.  The dull or dissatisfying aspects of life are less likely to be shared on social media.  What about you?  Do you see how kids are negatively affected by this?  Does it affect you?

Inspirational educators

by Sheep Farmer

DD’s high school has what they term the “Wildcat Inspiration Awards program.” Seniors have the opportunity to nominate local school employees from elementary, middle, or high school who have had a positive impact on them. The PTA sponsors a ceremony where the students present awards to those whom they nominated. Last year’s group included a high school Latin teacher who helped a student overcome her dyslexia, a guidance counselor who helped a senior secure scholarships, and an elementary school teacher who nurtured a love of history in a student. Not only is this a great way to honor the educators, but it is also great opportunity for the students to let the teachers, coaches, and counselors know the positive influence that they have had on the lives of their students. Did you have any teacher, coach or professor that truly inspired you?

‘Indecisiveness is the number one reason for failure.’

by Mémé

“Indecisiveness is the number one reason for failure. Lack of ability to make a decision in a timely manner causes most people to fail with their projects and plans. Identify this challenge and decide to no longer let it be a setback from your success.”

I searched for a quotation to use as the opening for this post, and I got this from a motivational speaker whose book is titled No Excuses.

We often talk about the qualities we wish to develop in our children. Being Totebaggers, after the obligatory nod to future happiness, we usually rank conscientiousness before self actualization, grit before reliance on natural talent. Adventure is laudable in its (youthful) place, but making tradeoffs and being in an overall secure position are the way most of us have conducted our lives and we would prefer our children end up that way too.

In looking at my own life, I would like to propose another quality that is not usually mentioned – decisiveness. I do some vague thinking about what I might want to do at a future and foreseen decision point, but the time comes I take a shockingly minimal amount of time to act. In consumer matters, this is evident. When we bought the townhouse, I went onto the local real estate site, went out alone one weekend in our neighborhood, preselected 3 places, took DH the next weekend, we picked one and made an offer. Done. I was thinking about a new Camry so I put some cash in an account, a very short friend mentioned that she was getting a new RAV4, the lightbulb went off, I spent one evening on the computer and bought the car the next day. But in much greater matters as well. Going to grad school, changing jobs/retiring, getting a divorce (4 mos from move out to initial decree). Obviously not all of my hasty choices work out optimally, but I am always moving forward and if I turn out to be wrong I just pick myself back up and make a change if necessary.

So do you agree with the idea that decisiveness of this type is a positive quality? Can it be developed? Do you think that extended reflection or analysis paralysis is like other “innate” personality traits that are impossible or very difficult to change?

Volkswagen emissions scandal

by WCE

I was interested in this article’s vague referrals to how differences in the legal system meant different consequences to Volkswagen for violating emissions standards in the U.S. and Europe. I continue to be interested in this scandal because I had wondered for years how Volkswagen met emissions standards that the Korean researchers I edit for struggled to approach in their diesel engine emissions optimizations.

Do you think Volkswagen’s corporate culture is atypical? Can someone explain more about the differences between European and U.S. legal systems, in that the consequences to Volkswagen for violating environmental law are so much more severe in the U.S.? Does anyone see parallels to the $20 billion payout from British Petroleum for the 2010 Gulf Oil spill?

Volkswagen’s Diesel Scandal Was 80 Years in the Making

Cats

by Sheep Farmer

Displaying imageedit_12_8200060755.jpg

I am the owner of a new cat. Mamma Cat, as she is now known, decided that my barn would be the perfect place to raise her family of three kittens. Lots of feral cats have shown up on our farm over the years. I have never fed any of them and most of them disappear after a few weeks. That all changed with our new arrival. Mamma Cat had been hanging around for a several months, always running away when she saw us. Last month I noticed a litter of kittens in a corner of the barn. DH and DD convinced me that I needed to feed her. She no longer runs away when she sees me, but she still keeps her distance. I now feel responsible for her, so she has an appointment in a few weeks to get spayed and get a rabies shot.. Have any of you adopted a stray that has shown up at your house? Is anyone planning on getting a new pet this year? If so, what type? If anyone is thinking about getting a cat this year, I know where you can get one!

Being single and happy

by Grace aka costofcollege

What If Marriage Is Overrated?

Bella DePaulo, a social psychologist, studies single people.

… For years, DePaulo has been chipping away at the commonly held belief — a myth, in her view and according to her research — that marriage offers unique happiness and well-being benefits. These findings are seriously overstated or misleading, DePaulo has argued, and if there weren’t so much intense social pressure to get married, a lot more people would be single, and many of them might be happier as a result.

Maybe more people should consider staying single, according to DePaulo.

... they are more likely than married people to encourage, help and socialize with their friends and neighbors. They are also more likely to visit, support, advise and stay in touch with their siblings and parents.

In fact, people who live alone are often the life of their cities and towns. They tend to participate in more civic groups and public events, enroll in more art and music classes, and go out to dinner more often than people who live with others. Single people, regardless of whether they live alone or with others, also volunteer more for social service organizations, educational groups, hospitals and organizations devoted to the arts than people who are married.

Most totebaggers are married so that may color their opinions on this topic.  I question the view that single people contribute more to cities and town, but I believe a mix of singles and marrieds makes for a more vibrant community.

What’s your opinion on this?  What have you observed or experienced that influences your view?  How do you imagine your life if you (married) had never married or if you (single) were to marry?  Do you think people have a “personality” better suited for being married or being single?  Other thoughts?

Learning myths

by MooshiMooshi

The general public buys into a lot of myths about how people learn, according to this study. Lots of people still buy into the idea of “learning styles” even though research does not support the idea at all. But most horrifyingly,

“More than 40 percent of respondents believed that teachers don’t need to know a subject area such as math or science, as long as they have good instructional skills. In fact, research shows that deep subject matter expertise is a key element in helping teachers excel.”

This may be one of the biggest problems with US education. if the public doesn’t believe that teachers need to know their subject, why should schools bother to hire teachers with expertise? If 90% still believe in learning styles, that is what the schools will give us.Schools just do what their constituents want. As the article says
“Public schools, in particular, are governed by school boards often composed of non-educators. They are subject to pressure from parents, too.”

You Probably Believe Some Learning Myths: Take Our Quiz To Find Out

I certainly see that in our district. That may be largely because it is a small district with highly involved parents – perhaps a larger district with more distracted parents would not feel the pressure as much. The problem is that even in our well educated district, the pressure on the schools is often not good pressure. Many parents, especially parents of elementary school age kids, want less rigor in the schools. Many parents that I speak with buy into the learning styles myth, as well as the right brain left brain myth. I have heard parents complain that a particular teacher is not respecting their little Johnny’s right brain orientation.

On a practical note, I have been aware for a while that research shows that active learning is better, even with simple tasks such as studying for a test. I constantly nag my kids, and my students too, not to simply read and reread the text. They should quiz themselves, work problems, or rephrase the text. Sadly, both my kids and my students resist.

Take the quiz. How did you do? Are you up on research into learning?

Long-term care insurance

by Sheep Farmer

My insurance agent recently asked me if I had long-term care insurance. When I told her that I did not, she told me that I should seriously consider purchasing it I am not quite 50, so LTC insurance is not something that I had given any thought to. I went home and started researching LTC. I looked up prices, statistics as to what percentage of the population needs long-term care, the length of time spend in long-term care, etc. I considered the longevity of my own family and that of DH. After much thought and research, I decided that we would be better off putting the same amount that the monthly premiums for LTC would be into an index fund. If we need LTC, we will be to self fund it, and if we don’t need it, then DD will stand to inherit quite a bit of money. What are your opinions on LTC? Have your or members of your family purchased it?

Open thread

Today we have an open thread to discuss anything on your mind.

How was your weekend?  What are your plans for the coming week, including Memorial Day?

I was shocked, saddened, and angered by this story.  It made me wonder how many other similar situations have existed in the recent past or even today.

My Family’s Slave
She lived with us for 56 years. She raised me and my siblings without pay. I was 11, a typical American kid, before I realized who she was.

The Latest Country Whose Parenting We Should Emulate

by Honolulu Mother

I’m sure we all remember when we were urged to go all Tiger Mom on our kids, and when a bit later we were urged to feed them pate and celeriac and send them off to play while the grown-ups talk, because French women not only don’t get fat, they also don’t serve up Easy Mac to picky eaters or hover over playdates. But now we’re offered a new group to be more like: the Dutch!

The key to raising happy kids? The latest trend says do as the Dutch do.

I am especially amused by this because a few years ago, around when the Tiger Mom stuff was big in the news, my daughter’s friend (whose mother is Dutch) had come along for a weekend at my parents’ house and my mother, impressed with the friend’s behavior, was talking about how there should be a book on Dutch parenting . . . right up until the friend accidentally dropped a gecko in my mother’s lap and it ended up inside her shorts.

The article suggests that features of Dutch childhood include plenty of independence, time for play, and minimal academic stress, all helped along by a wholly un-American level of work-life balance. Does that sound good to you? Does it sound feasible? And, what country’s parenting style do you think we should next be urged to adopt, and why?

Open thread

Today we have an open thread to discuss anything you’d like at any time of the day.

Here’s one topic suggested by a reader.

Several people on this blog have mentioned taking anti-depressants, either long- or short-term. A prescription for those, in my experience, comes with a recommendation for therapy. I have a little experience doing this, but have yet to really click with anyone. These suggestions sound helpful, but are also very vague. What other tips have people found useful in starting therapy?

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN STARTING THERAPY


Here’s a survey for interested readers to take.

Food finds

by S&M

What are you eating these days? I don’t mean matzoh balls, Cadbury Creme eggs or springtime asparagus. What have you recently started eating? Have you “columbused” any good new-to-you foods?

I came across Chobani roasted red pepper dip in the deli section recently. I like that company’s Greek yogurt, so I gave this a try. Yum! It’s good on all the standby crackers and veggies. I’ve dived into a couple of “old” foods with renewed vigor. Since learning that scallops, which I once thought of as an occasional treat, are pretty much straight protein and no fat, I’ve eaten them nearly every other day. Lunch today was pasta, scallops sautéed with leeks, and the dip as a sauce. I’ve also put scallops into salads, often with sun dried tomatoes. Another thing that’s new to me is protein powder. I haven’t figured out very many ways to use it yet, other than stirring it into Greek yogurt. It can supposedly be substituted for up to half the flour in baked goods, but I chicken out every time I think I’m going to try that.

My issue with gluten seems to be over now. It expanded until corn and rice, which have no gluten, were also giving me problems, and then one day I had to have a bite of something my son was eating because it looked so good, and I was fine. That means I can renew all my old favorites. I’m glad because quinoa takes more time and attention to make than couscous. I can put water on the stove, chop veggies, pour the water over the couscous, saute the veggies, and dump them over the grain with a squirt of lemon juice and a little EVOO in ten minutes. Another old thing that’s new again are pizzelles, for the simple reason that the very thin waffles don’t have many calories or fat grams. I tell myself that they are cookies, and I can eat the whole thing.

So what’s new on your table?

When do you let your kids quit an activity?

by tcmama

When do you let your kids quit an activity? Our sons, 1st grade and kindergarten, are taking piano lessons. I have no musical ability, but I feel it is important for them to have some exposure to music. We are finishing their first year of lessons. The kids are starting to complain about practicing. Mostly the older one is complaining about practicing, and I think the younger one complains because his brother does. I don’t want them to quit because it is getting harder, but at the same time, I don’t want to force them to do something they don’t like.

Both kids like music and say they would like to try other instruments when they get older. The younger son seems to have an interest in music – he goes through life singing and making up songs. If we allowed the older son to quit piano, I think the younger son would quit too because he wants to do everything his brother does.

If this were a sport that the kid didn’t want to do, I’d let them quit once the season was over and not sign them up again. I wonder though if it should be different with music. I’m not sure if they are complaining now because it is getting harder and they don’t want to work through it. I’m not having them play piano as a resume builder for college. I want them to have exposure and appreciation for music.

Other info – I don’t think they mind going to the lessons because it is during their after-school care, so we don’t need to drive them to it. I started paying them to practice as they wanted to earn more money (daily prices – $0.25 for one time through all songs, $0.50 for two times through, and $0.75 for 3 or more times through).

For those of you who play an instrument or did play an instrument, did your parents make you play? How long did you take lessons for? Do you wish you would have stuck with it for longer? Should I let them take next year off and try taking lessons again when they are older? Any tips to help make practicing more enjoyable or provide more incentive for practicing? Should we allow them to stop taking lessons?

Is the world too complicated for us?

by WCE

Our world outsmarts us
Social problems are fantastically complex, while human minds are severely under-engineered. Is democracy doomed?

Given our ongoing discussions of human frailty, weakness and variation, this article seemed appropriate. The description of the “intuitive response” to the false positive test appealed to me and reminded me of my favorite picture of that.

Education attainment levels across America

by Grace aka costofcollege

These educational attainment maps covering the United States reveal stark contrasts in some areas.

Educational Attainment in America

You can take a look at major cities, rural areas, and your own neighborhood.  It appears that my home is in a locale significantly less educated than the areas surrounding me on three sides.

A comment from the original poster of this link on a CollegeConfidential thread.

One of the things that this map reveals is that many cities and towns have very, very discrete divisions between educated and uneducated populations–often a single street, and that street often corresponds with ethnic/racial demographics.

Check out Austin Blvd. in Chicago, the crazy little UWS “peninsula” extending into Harlem in NYC, Palo Alto proper vs. East Palo Alto (divided by Highway 101), Philadelphia (you don’t need me to point it out–it’s obvious), and so many other cities.

We still are very, very segregated.

This NYT article highlights segregation in the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Family by Family, How School Segregation Still Happens

Does the map data in your location surprise you?  Does it appear accurate?  Would you use this type of information when house hunting?  Totebaggers probably seek to live among other highly educated people.  Have you ever searched for and moved your family to an educationally diverse neighborhood?

How to deal with personal issues affecting work

by Louise

There have been a few times when health crisis/issues have forced me to request even more flexibility at work. One time I was reluctant to share the details but I found that all up the management chain were very sympathetic and actually asked me what I was doing at work instead of taking care of the issue.

Recently one new hire didn’t work out because she had not got over the death of a grown child. I felt I was way more sympathetic than others in my workplace.

How have you managed a personal crisis and work? Have you been forced eventually to quit because things became too hard to manage?

How To Deal With Personal Issues At Work (Keep Personal Issues From Harming Your Job And Career)

How Do You Use Humor?

by Honolulu Mother

Here’s a humor quiz from New York Magazine that looks not at whether you have a sense of humor (we all do, of *course*), but instead how you use humor in interacting with others:

Test Yourself: Psychologists Created a Quiz to Define Your Sense of Humor

According to the article accompanying the quiz,

The HSQ divides humor into four main styles: Affiliative, Self-Enhancing, Aggressive, and Self-Defeating. Affiliative humor means cracking jokes, engaging in banter, and otherwise using humor to make others like us. Self-enhancing humor is an optimistic, coping humor, characterized by the ability to laugh at yourself or at the absurdity of a situation and feel better as a result. Aggressive humor is characterized by sarcasm, teasing, criticism, and ridicule. Self-defeating humor is attempting to get others to like us by putting ourselves down.

As the article notes, humor isn’t an unqualified good, as it can be used to positive or negative ends. I took the quiz and came out as primarily affiliative, which didn’t surprise me. Do any Totebaggers find themselves surprised by a quiz result? And, does the analysis of humor styles correspond with your observations generally?

Happy travel

by S&M

This post mentions the famous (I think) free 3-day Reykjavik layover from Iceland air. It got me thinking about other possible things to do on layovers, like the Air and Space Museum right next to Dulles. Then I started reminiscing about past layover “wins”.

Flying between Ethiopia and Germany, I had my flights rearranged in Entebbe as Clinton (and AF 1) delayed our departure. When I got to Rome, I had an 8 hr layover, and didn’t want to hang out in any more airport space. I rode the subway into the city, not sure where I was going, but happy to be out of the airport (I was 32, single, and childfree). As I came up from the station, most of the crowd seemed to be going in one direction. I saw no reason to swim against the tide. I continued to move along for a couple of blocks before the people ahead of me handed over their bags for someone to search. The whole crowd seemed to be lining up. Huh? Random security checks on the sidewalk? I looked around and realized we were at the gates of the Vatican. I went on in, no ticket required, and found myself standing in St Peter’s Square, just outside the Basillica, with hundreds if not thousands of people. What now? The pope? I was joking to myself, but sure enough, the crowd at one end parted, cheers went up, and there was the famous Popemobile, with the pontiff smiling and waving as he drove through the crowd. He drove around a bit before he gave a brief welcome and blessing and I think that was it. It was a bit of a surreal experience.

Another time, I knew in advance that my son and I would have an 11-hr layover after flying across the Pacific. We had nearly missed our outbound flight in LAX, so I was fine with the wait, but with a 3 year old? We took a cab to the beach, played in the surf, slept in the sun, ate in a cafe, and were refreshed when our redeye began.

So how ’bout it? Do you have any good layover stories, intentional or not?

Layovers Don’t Have to Suck: Escape the Airport and Explore

Rituals and superstitions

by Louise

I grew in a country with a great deal of superstitions. People had various rituals to ward off the evil eye, observed auspicious days and times and matched birth horoscopes of potential life partners.  I lived for a long time in a city obsessed by The Curse of the Bambino (thankfully broken). Baseball players are known for their rituals.

The only superstition I have is being cautious of sharing certain bits of news. I waited three months to announce my pregnancies and didn’t reveal the name until the baby was born. Even now, I am cautious about sharing routine achievements of my kids.

What are some of your superstitions or (cough) rituals ?