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 ?

Who needs a NMSF house?

by S&M

We’ve discussed not so smart technology before. Now it seems the pendulum is really swinging back, from “cram in all the tech” to “moderate tech” to….what?

I don’t feel the need to have internet access for every single thing. We’ve had motion-detector lights in the bathrooms for several years. They get us to the potty in the middle of the night, but don’t blind us. During the day, it’s nice to avoid the very loud fans that come on with the overhead lighting in there. (Aside: I know one visitor to Germany, where these are de rigueur in public facilities, who recalls the lights going out  too early, and living in terror the rest of her trip, afraid that it would happen again.) The following made me laugh “those of us that just want to wake up in the morning feeling like our body loves us back don’t need a bunch of touchscreens. We just want a cup of coffee to pep up so that we don’t walk into our office screaming at everyone”. I love my little mocha pot, and sometimes use a simple pour-over cone. Works for me. And grilling? Isn’t that all about getting in touch with the primal lure of fire?

How about you? Do you embrace a dumb house?

LOW-TECH WAYS TO LIVE THE HIGH LIFE AT HOME

Why flying has gotten suckier

by MooshiMooshi

The current flying experience, in my opinion, totally sucks, and is much worse than say 8 or even 5 years ago. It is just as crammed and unpredictable as before, but now tickets cost a lot more, service to small and medium cities has been cutback drastically and in particular costs a lot more, and to add insult to injury, we now pay fees for almost every aspect of a “normal” flying experience. At some point, I assume, we will end up paying fees for being allowed to sit down. And yes, I pay the fees. If I am flying with a kid, I want to sit next to my kid because even though said kid would be fine alone, it is simply inconvenient to be separated. So I pay the fee to get an aisle or window seat, and I pay the fee to be allowed to choose. And since I would rather not be separated from my bag which has all my snacks and reading glasses, and work to be done, I pay for the priority boarding so I can get bin space. Boarding has turned into a stressed out competition. In the old days, one could relax and wait for your row group to be called. Now, it is a stampede, with everyone in a boarding group hanging by the gate, trying to be first in their group to get that bin space.

This is a great article explaining why this state of affairs is good for airlines.

“Calculated misery”: how airlines profit from your miserable flying experience

Although, they don’t really touch on the main reason why airlines have been able to do this: consolidation. The industry is so much a monopoly now that we consumers cannot vote with our feet.

I thought capitalism and free markets were supposed to IMPROVE things for consumers. But evidently not.

Do you guys think air travel will ever improve or will we end up paying an extra fee for the privilege of sitting?

Paying for college

by Sheep Farmer

High school seniors are excited about college acceptances, and their parents are worrying about how they are going to finance the next four years. DD will be attending an Expensive Private College (EPC) starting in August. Luckily, she was awarded a merit scholarship that cuts tuition in half. Both sets of grandparents have generously contributed to a 529. I plan to pay the rest out of pocket. We have talked to her about working during the school year, but I told her that she could wait until after the first semester before deciding whether or not that is something that she wants to pursue. What are others doing to finance their children’s education, especially ones that will be attending EPCs? Have any of your kids considered the ROTC route? Are you going to encourage them to work during the school year? Are you willing to pay the full fare for an EPC?

Shopping across the gender divide

by S&M

Most of us would have no problem stepping across the baby blue/pink divide to pick up an item for our children, but for ourselves, as adults? Have you purchased or do you use items not designed for your gender? Why or why not?

My feet are size 10 in women’s, size 8 in men’s. I’ve bought men’s shoes twice: my leather Converse for high school basketball and a pair of oxfords. The BB shoes were ok, but the others never felt right on my feet. Maybe it was just the shoes, I don’t know, but that put me off buying men’s shoes. 20 or 30 years ago, I bought “men’s” bikes because the crossbar made them more stabile. I consider the tools I own to be gender neutral. Some were my grandfather’s. When I chose the others, color was not a consideration.

5 Items You Should Buy From the Men’s Section

So how about it? What do you own that might be considered not gender-appropriate? How did you make the choice to buy or use it? Do you feel any repercussions from either crossing that line or following it too closely?

Foods and Health

by Louise

I have become interested in the many people I meet who are careful about what they eat.  Lots of people have reduced or cut out gluten from their diets as well as diary.  Teens now go vegan.

What has been your experience with cutting out certain foods? Do you feel better in your gut, have you lost weight and feel healthier overall?

14 Best and Worst Foods for Digestion

What Does Your State Shop For?

by Honolulu Mother

Estately (a real estate blog I guess?) put together a map showing what item each state shops for more frequently than any other state:

Thrillist also wrote it up here:

THIS MAP SHOWS THE MOST COMMON ONLINE SHOPPING SEARCHES IN ALL 50 STATES

You can scroll down to see the complete list from each state. Hawaii’s looks mostly right, though I’m not sure what’s up with that Flowbee. Some other states have explaining to do — Colorado and Kansas, is it the long winters? Rhode Island, I feel your pain.

How about your state — does the list surprise you?

Taking a career pause

by Up North

While scrolling through a list of new books available at my local library, I came across “Work Pause Thrive: How to Pause for Parenthood Without Killing Your Career” by Lisen Stromberg. I was intrigued to find out what the author meant by a work pause and if it may be applicable to my own career path.

The author defines a pause as “temporarily reframing of one’s priorities to place the personal before the professional.” Stromberg notes there are different kinds of pauses that she labels Cruisers: staying in the paid work force with a downshift to part time work or a flexible work arrangement, Boomerangs: leave the workplace completely and then recommit to their careers by returning to their previous industry, and Pivoters: leave the workplace completely and pivot to a new profession. She notes a pause can happen with young children, older children, or when one is taking care of a parent.

The book gives a name to the career/life path I’ve chosen to take and discusses many others who are also creating their own path. Stromberg states that we have a bias against caregiving in this country and that often a career pause isn’t the “choice” it’s often made out to be.

I have downshifted my career to be my children’s primary caregiver. I started my career at a large firm, worked PT at a smaller firm for a couple of years, was primarily a SAHM for 1.5 years, and now work at a large firm with a flexible work arrangement. There are trade-offs to the path I’ve taken. On the plus side, I’ve had more time with my children, more time for my own interests, and have been able to “stay in the game” professionally. Some of the downsides are having less challenging assignments than I would likely be given if I didn’t have a FWA, having others assume I am not as committed to my career, and watching others pass me by career-wise. I enjoy working and would like to focus more on my career when my kids are a bit older. I hope that reading this book will help me to do so.

Here’s a link to a review of the book:

Work Pause Thrive: How to Pause for Parenthood Without Killing Your Career

If you’ve taken a pause in your career, in what way did you pause? How has it worked out for you?

For those of you who haven’t taken a career pause, what do you think of those who pause? Should work places do more to accommodate caregiving pauses?

Trade-offs between privacy and security

by S&M

The first half of page 68 could be fodder for discussion of the trade-offs between privacy and security.

The Wealth Report 2017

Privacy is rapidly becoming an unattainable luxury

Most people value privacy and, understandably, prefer to keep information about their investments and assets to themselves.

The unrealistic nature of this aspiration was highlighted early last year when nearly 12 million documents, including private financial information relating to more than 200,000 individuals and entities – the so-called Panama papers – were leaked to the media. It was proof, if proof were needed, that no data can be truly secure.

However, concerted international co-operation aimed at helping governments understand and track the global movement of wealth and assets may soon render such unofficial leaks redundant. The
US started the process in 2010 with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which led to a unilateral demand for foreign financial institutions to report details of accounts and investments held by US citizens.

Aside from prompting several thousand Americans to renounce their citizenship including, reportedly, the UK’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, and forcing the Swiss to evolve their banking secrecy rules, FATCA has prompted a global copycat move from the OECD. Its
decision to agree information sharing among 100 countries through the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) will trigger a data deluge later this year, as jurisdictions around the world begin the automatic exchange of information on their citizens’ financial information. The CRS promises a more efficient means of ensuring that appropriate tax is paid on wealth, wherever in the world it is created. Most of those affected by the new regulations will have no issues. But for some, unlimited data sharing will raise personal risk, especially if corruption enters the process.

As investment portfolios become more global and wealth moves more rapidly we should not be surprised that the direction of travel is towards “big data” capture. As Ian Bremmer notes on
page 9, governments will have to look for new metrics to accurately measure emerging wealth and economic trends which have significant political implications.

This points to an issue that runs throughout this year’s edition of The Wealth Report, which is that developed markets are seeing more politically inspired resistance to large inflows of capital from
emerging markets: witness responses in Vancouver, Hong Kong and more, as detailed on pages 18 and 19.

At the same time, emerging markets are concerned – increasingly so in the case of China – about outbound capital flows. This government desire to control wealth movements will inevitably necessitate a better understanding of where citizens hold their wealth.

Irrespective of current government initiatives, technological developments will make it increasingly difficult to hold assets and investments discreetly, even where the objective is to maintain privacy rather than to evade taxation. If the predictions on page 20 from one of our contributors, David Friedman, prove correct, technology is moving towards a future where the entire ownership of all global assets will be free to search in real time.

All this has profound implications for those jurisdictions that have built their business models around their ability to provide investment secrecy. Access to the likes of private aviation may allow the wealthy to continue enjoying a measure of personal privacy, but data privacy is set to become an increasingly rare commodity.

Taking Care of Elderly Relatives

by AustinMom

This topic was triggered by a question asked by a regular recently about what support do you really need to provide the “more healthy” elderly who have their mental capacity and sufficient financial resources. It reminded me that I had that similar question several years ago.

As regulars know, my dad passed away in May 2015 and my mom followed him in April 2016. My mom was 9 years older than my dad, but she was always the healthier one, per their doctors (shared same primary care, cardiologist, and ophthalmologist). My parents were open about discussing both their finances and health care information in the last 5 years before they passed. However, knowing information and stepping in to help or completely manage these things is a big step.

Since my mom passed, I have three acquaintances who have started down this similar path with one or both elderly parents. In each case, the point at which the family member(s) needed to consider downsizing was foreseeable, but then the switch to needing significant participation in caregiving was abrupt and not anticipated.

The “problem” I observed, in my own situation and in theirs, is that when that change takes place you aren’t as prepared as you’d like to be and you are too enmeshed that you don’t have the time to start doing the research. While there is tons of information out there, it all seems to be scattered like parts of a jigsaw puzzle dumped on the floor. No one seems to have that “complete checklist of elder care considerations”, either from the what to do in advance, what to do when you find yourself unexpectedly care-giving, or how to handle the estate upon passing.

From some of the comments on other posts, a number of Totebaggers have recently been, are in the midst of, or can see this coming in their families. If you were asked to contribute to that “complete checklist”, what would you put on it?

Open thread

by Grace aka costofcollege

Today we have an open thread to discuss any topic at any time of the day.

Since tomorrow is tax filing deadline, maybe this is on your mind.  What do your tax habits say about you?

Your Accountant Knows You Better Than You Know Yourself
As tax deadlines near, one preparer explains how reading her clients helps their bottom lines

What personal hangups affect the way people manage their taxes?

Some people walk in the door saying, “I hate paperwork. I hate taxes.” These people are avoiders. They don’t seem to care that much about money. Even if avoiding tax planning costs them money, they’d rather not deal with it. They don’t see themselves as able to get ahead financially. They don’t feel like they have any control, when in fact they do.

Others are procrastinators who have fallen years behind on filing returns, and the onset of the tax season triggers guilt or anxiety. These clients need more structure from us. Before they leave the office, I suggest they set another appointment in advance. Or I say, “Here’s one action to take: When you go back to the office I want you to adjust your W-4 and have an additional $50 taken out of your paycheck.”

Gifted vs. high-achieving

by S&M

“Giftedness” does not mean “likely to come out ahead in any competition”. Gifted children often are non-neurotypical in other ways as well, in ways that make learning in standard classrooms difficult. How well have your kids’ school done about recognizing this and addressing it through pedagogy (setting up classes according to it)?

The Truth About ‘Gifted’ Versus High-Achieving Students

‘Locker room talk’

by L

“Locker room talk” and “boys will be boys” – in the wake of our current president’s words (and alleged sexual assaults), what solutions would Totebaggers suggest? Parents of boys, how would you feel if your son was one of the people scoring women?

2012 Harvard Men’s Soccer Team Produced Sexually Explicit ‘Scouting Report’ on Female Recruits

Stronger Together

WATCH: Harvard women’s soccer’s response to ‘scouting reports’ featured in Lifetime video

Surprised by Shaker style

by S&M

Whaaaaaat?

Every once in a while, you learn something that turns your understanding of the world on its head. This article was like that for me. In my geography, PhD, the two-way, relationship between society and space was a major topic. One of my dissertation advisors ran a speaker series. He often took visiting speakers out to the Shaker site near campus, which he used to illustrate and further think through ideas about society and space. I went along a couple of times. Thinking of those theories always brings to mind the soothing spaces in those buildings. They are so serene that I picture people going about their tasks happily in a very orderly fashion, without loud noises or motions. The meeting hall has a large open space which was used for the movements the sect is named for. It is similarly pale and calming. I have always thought of those ecstatic dances as contrasting starkly with the gentle colors and perfect order.

Now comes this. The forms and measurements of those spaces doesn’t change because of it, but human perception of them would riotous color suggests a very different mood of the people who created it and lived there. I highly doubt that rethinking that space through brightly colored glasses will overturn my entire PhD, but it is still somehow unsettling to see such a change in something (a place) where many of those ideas came to life.

Or we could talk cupboards, if you want.

ARTS/ARTIFACTS;Even Before the Movies, the Shakers Had Technicolor

A Quick Fix for the Blues

by Honolulu Mother

This article in The Week offers a few quick ways to boost your happiness.  At the end of the article (which gives more detail on why and how this works), it sums them up thus:

Sum up

Here’s what brain research says will make you happy:

1. Ask “what am I grateful for?” No answers? Doesn’t matter. Just searching helps.

2. Label those negative emotions. Give it a name and your brain isn’t so bothered by it.

3. Decide. Go for “good enough” instead of “best decision ever made on Earth.”

4. Hugs, hugs, hugs. Don’t text — touch.

Are there mood-boosters we could add to this list? For me, I would add (1) Go for a walk and (2) Put on cheerful music. What suggestions do others have?

How would you cut your household spending?

by Grace aka costofcollege

Let’s look at the unpleasant version of a question that was posed here recently.  Instead of asking what you would do with an extra $2500 each month, today’s question is about tightening your belt.

How would you deal with being forced to trim $2500 (or another amount) from your monthly family budget?  The reason could be a job loss, new daycare or college expenses, or any number of other scenarios.

Pick a dollar amount or percentage, and tell us what you would cut from your budget.  Also, how could you boost your household income?  A side gig, SAHP returns to the work force, sell valuables, or other ways to “find money“?

To inspire you, take a look at this comparison of two very different family budgets.  How could an “average family” trim their budget?

Movie recommendations

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

I just finally got around to seeing “Date Night” with Steve Carell and Tina Fey. It was really cute, and it moved right along. There wasn’t too much embarrassment humor ( I HATE embarrassment humor) and really, you could watch it with kids over the age of 10 without too much cringing.

I do love a good romcom, and by “good”, I mean not sappy or horrifying or grotesquely embarrassing.

I guess some of my other romcom go-tos include “L.A. Story”, “It Happened One Night”, and “Philadelphia Story”. I think I have “Philadelphia Story” memorized.

What are your movie recommendations? What genres are your go-tos? What
have you seen lately that you recommend?

Should You Worry About the Person the Dog Dislikes?

by Honolulu Mother

I was intrigued by this Quora discussion on whether dogs’ and cats’ reactions to people are meaningful indicators. In other words, should you be wary of someone your pet avoids or dislikes, and be inclined to trust the person the pet takes an immediate shine to?

Do certain people give off an aura to animals? My cat hisses severely at this person, and my dog hides.

Gender imbalance in the workplace

by L

Why Is Silicon Valley So Awful to Women?

Why Men Don’t Want the Jobs Done Mostly by Women

Totebaggers, how would you suggest decreasing sexism and increasing the number of women in tech? Law? Banking? Other fields? On the other side of the coin, how would you increase the number of men in “pink collar” jobs? Or would you rather leave well enough alone? If gender gaps in certain jobs/industries don’t bother you, why not?

Retail trends

by Grace aka costofcollege

When I think of my shopping habits 30, 20, or even five years ago I am astounded at how the retail landscape has changed.  And more changes are in store.  (Pun intended.)

Here are a few random stories that touch on different retail trends.

Sears Transformed America. It Deserves to Die With Dignity.

Amazon and Walmart are in an all-out price war that is terrifying America’s biggest brands

Costco’s biggest mistake in 2016

Now’s the Time for Big-Box Stores to Embrace the 19th Century

For retailers and their landlords, the future lies in giving customers a place to socialize and learn. Spending time with friends, meeting new people, and acquiring hands-on skills aren’t as enjoyable online. The challenge today is to recreate the old excitement for a new era, selling not exotic merchandise and unfamiliar culture but the pleasures of human contact and physical presence.

Death of the Shoe Salesman, Finally

Payless is reportedly filing for bankruptcy.  And what’s the future for shopping malls?

Mall Closures Ripple Through Small Town America

Mall Owners Rush to Get Out of the Mall Business
Surge in store closures prompts some shopping-center owners to walk away from troubled locations

What are some important retail changes you have seen? Malls, clothing, shoes, homes, cars, appliances, groceries, and travel have all been affected.  What are the upsides and downsides?  What changes do you expect within the next five years and beyond?

Your retirement location and home

by S&M

The Wealth Report

Some people here are planning their retirement, while for others it is dreamily far off. What are your criteria for your retirement home? Can you picture yourself living outside the US? This chart shows how much floorspace can be purchased for $1 million in various cities around the world. (1 sq m=10.76 sq ft) Pages 20, 21, 25, & 26 at the link give thumbnail descriptions of neighborhoods ready to grow in transportation & infrastructure, tech & creative industries, and for bargain hunters, as well as neighborhoods feeling the aftermath of gentrification and “hot spots” around the world. Do any of them look like “home” to you?

 

Devious decluttering

by S&M

Clutter Confessions: The One Thing of Theirs I Wish I Could Toss

Haha! This could be fun. Expanding it from romantic partners to include other family members, I’d say I’m really not a fan of the generic black/white reversible jersey from the Y that my son has tacked up on his wall. Between me not having to look at it and teens needing to experiment with their own identity, I don’t think it’s worth the battle that would ensue if I insisted he take it down.

Illness, Setbacks – looking inwards, coping with it all

by Louise

A mouthful of a title! How did Totebaggers cope with illness in themselves or loved ones, how do Totebaggers cope with setbacks? One day everything is fine, the next day dark clouds appear on the horizon.

My household just dealt with a bout of illness and all our issues are not yet resolved.
I thought of this book, I had been intending to read it but put it off, will pick it up again.

Review: In ‘When Breath Becomes Air,’ Dr. Paul Kalanithi Confronts an Early Death

School trips

by Denver Dad

The last few years, my kids have gone on several school trips out of state and overseas. DS went to Boston two years ago, they both went to D.C. last year, and DD went to Costa Rica this year. One of DS’ teachers is planning a trip for next year to France, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany that we will probably let him go on. Our feeling is that these trips are great opportunities for the kids, and we can afford them, so we want to take advantage of them. Realistically, we’re never going to get to all of these places as a family.

I also think a big part of the trips is the kids getting to be on their own (with other kids and some chaperones, of course, but not their parents) and establish some independence. I tell them flat out that I don’t want to hear from them while they are gone. On the Costa Rica trip, the teacher sent photos and updates several times a day, and while it was nice to see what they were doing, but I would have preferred to have had no contact until the end. I definitely seem to be in the minority on this, most of the parents were very concerned about the international calling/texting and wifi access so they could have daily contact with their kids.

What trips have your kids taking and/or are planning on going? Have there been any that they didn’t enjoy, or you felt weren’t worth the money? And how much do you try to stay in touch with the kids while they are gone?

The X Plan

by Honolulu Mother

This blog post by Bert Fulks recommends a variant on the you-can-always-get-a-ride-home policy that I’ve seen recommended before (including on the Totebag) for the teenage years. He describes it thus:

Let’s say that my youngest, Danny, gets dropped off at a party. If anything about the situation makes him uncomfortable, all he has to do is text the letter “X” to any of us (his mother, me, his older brother or sister). The one who receives the text has a very basic script to follow. Within a few minutes, they call Danny’s phone. When he answers, the conversation goes like this:

“Hello?”

“Danny, something’s come up and I have to come get you right now.”

“What happened?”

“I’ll tell you when I get there. Be ready to leave in five minutes. I’m on my way.”

At that point, Danny tells his friends that something’s happened at home, someone is coming to get him, and he has to leave.

It seems like a good idea. What says the Totebag’s collective wisdom?

Holidays from hell

by Grace aka costofcollege

What was your holiday from hell?  Maybe you’ve not suffered from situations as horrible as those in the article linked below, but have you had any time time when your carefully planned trip did not turn out as smoothly as anticipated?  Illness, injury, missed flights, dismal accommodations, horrible weather, unruly or incompatible traveling companions, disappointing destinations, or something else?

Holidays from Hell: From frisky elephants to a loo filled with frogs, tourists reveal the hilarious moments their trips went VERY wrong

One of my recent travel disasters caused me to miss my kid’s college graduation ceremony.  The series of unfortunate events began with a widespread thunderstorm pattern that cancelled our flight and ended with me pulling up to campus the next day just after the last graduate had been handed their diploma.  In between were many snags, including a daylong wait at the originating airport, outrageously priced replacement tickets, misplaced luggage, unexpected highway construction on the way to campus, and a clueless cab driver who asked me for the best alternate route.

My sister once spent the night with her toddler at O’Hare International on Christmas Eve. What travel mishaps or disappointments have you had?  Can you laugh at them now in hindsight?

Nosy, or not?

from S&M

This is another article that could go two ways.

1. People could tell about inappropriate questions lobbed at their children or themselves, and about defending/ teaching their kids how to respond.

2. We could talk about things our kids try to hide from us that we really do need to know, whether academic or otherwise. That could also include other relationships where ideas of what’s proprietary and what needs to be shared differ.

What’s Worse Than Waiting to Hear From Colleges? Getting Interrogated About It

Impact of Social Acceptance on Food and Lifestyle Choices

by Louise

The article below caught my eye. We now drink more bottled water than soda. A big part of this has to do with how we as a society now perceive soda. Sure we still drink it but at least among the Totebag set it is a once in a way item (or banned completely) rather than drunk daily.

What food or lifestyle habits have you made changes to over the years. Any items you have given up due to social pressure?

Soda Loses Its U.S. Crown: Americans Now Drink More Bottled Water

Buying a car

by lagirl

Finally after 13 years of driving my Corolla I am going to buy a new car. Some of you may remember I wanted the Lexus IS 250 but have recently become enamored with the new Civic. Clearly the Civic will be much cheaper. I test drove it and it feels very similar to my Corolla.

Any tips of negotiating through email? They told me that they don’t offer 0% financing but i know a lot of companies do.

Also, I’m interested in changing my insurance company as well-anyone have one they really like?

Weather the weather

by S&M

Whether the weather is cold or whether the weather is hot
Whether the weather is nice or whether the weather is not
Whatever the weather we’ll weather the weather
Whether we like it or not!

We talked recently about liking summer, but only a little bit about why people like specific seasons (aside from a detailed list from the resident stand-up comedian). I’m curious what parts of the forecast people look at, beyond temperatures and precipitation that affects their commute.

How dependent on the weather are you? What types of weather do you need for your favorite activities? Do pollen or other weather-related factors influence your physical health and general well-being?

When talking is the wrong way to show support

by Honolulu Mother

I was interested in this Washington Post article suggesting that sometimes the best way to be a supportive parent is to stay quiet, at least until your child is ready to talk:

The first rule of sports (and all) parenting: Don’t speak

This is not a natural response for me. I have learned over time that there are times it’s best to say what you have to say and then drop it, or wait for a better time to raise a thorny topic — this isn’t limited to parenting, either — but I hadn’t really thought about the option to say nothing in a situation such as the one described in the article (disappointing loss in a big game). I’ll have to remember that as another tool in my parenting toolbox.

Is the don’t-talk approach something you would use, or have used, in a similar situation? What do you think of the advice?

Should you trust news reports about studies?

by MooshiMooshi

You know how everyone complains that studies get reported in the media which then get contradicted a year or two later? Well, it turns out there are reasons for this.

Study: half of the studies you read about in the news are wrong

It turns out that reporters tend to report on initial studies, which are more likely to be contradicted in one or more ways later on. In the world of science, inital studies are just that: initial.

Besides the attention grabbing headline, this article has a good critique of the reasons why initial studies tend to be reported instead of the later metareviews which are more likely to be correct.

This is a real problem. People learn about science mainly through the media, and if it feels like everything reported turns out to be wrong, people start distrusting science. If reporters were more careful to publicize the later, more complete studies, people might develop more faith in science. I think reporters, too, should spend more time explaining the process of science to their readers, rather than just pushing out headlines and brief explanations of what may be very small and very tentative studies.

Good science and financial reporters are in terribly short supply, And given the fragile state of the field of journalism these days, I don’t see it improving. But these are two areas that impact everyone. People have to make decisions about both science and financial information all the time, including when they vote. How can we improve public understanding?

Is The Villages for you?

by MBT

My parents are in the process of visiting their local versions of The Villages. Because I would love for them to be near me, I am visiting a few in Houston in the hopes of offering them a comparable choice, both in amenities and cost. From what I’ve learned, it is a pretty darn appealing lifestyle. The ones they are interested in are referred to as Continuous Care Retirement Centers, and offer a range of completely independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing/rehabilitation services, and memory care.

Their first choice is essentially like living on a cruise ship. You buy in to your unit, and they have 21 floor plans to choose from of various sizes. There is weekly housekeeping, including changing linens, and some sort of call button if you have a problem. The Villages takes care of all repairs and maintenance, replaces your appliances (and makes your lightbulb selections!) when they need to be replaced, covers all utilities other than cable, and includes a choice of several restaurants and a bar that has “social hours”. On the day they visited, lunch in the fancier restaurant included salmon, asparagus, garlic mashed potatoes, and a slice of hot apple pie with ice cream for dessert. (No cooking or dishes, and hot apple pie – I think my mom was sold at that point!) In addition, you have no lawn maintenance, etc.

All at no additional cost, they have a fitness room, with personal trainers who come in at appointed times, offering yoga and other classes, a pool for swimming laps, and various healthy living courses. They also offer technology courses such as how to use your iPhone and iPad, they have an art studio, pool tables,putting green, poker tournaments, two libraries, and have outings such as architectural tours, trips to the movies, happy hours, parties, and other things. They will take you to appointments, haircuts, or wherever else you need to go. They also have a private dining room you can reserve if you want to have guests, and have a guest suite available for visiting friends and family. Again – my mom is pretty enticed by the fact that you don’t have to do all the work to get your house ready for guests.

When they were visiting, they saw friends my dad had retired with, former neighbors, and ran into people from church. It is clearly a pretty social place. Some friends told them they like to come down for lunch, order two lunches but split one and bring the other back to their room. Then they stay in for dinner and just reheat the leftovers. I’m sure you could get take-out or a meal sent up from the restaurants as well if you didn’t feel like a shared dining environment.

I had never given much thought to where we’ll live when we’re older, but I have to say The Villages is now a contender. I like my independence and a fair amount of quiet time, but it seems that you could have whatever blend of social and private that you would like. It seems like an excellent way to extend the amount of time you are able to live independently, albeit at a cost. It appears that the buy-in will be about $150-$200K more than my parents will sell their house for, and the monthly fee will be somewhere between $5500-$6000. The pricing is all very sketchy and non-transparent, with the whole “if you are willing to sign the contract today, I can give you a discount of x” pressure. So far, the ones I have seen a reasonable distance from me are nice, but are smaller so they do not offer as many amenities, or three meals a day, and in some cases, no bar and no wine or spirits available with meals.

Do you have any experience with any version of retirement living? Have you given any thought to where you’d like to live when you hit your golden years?

Recharging

by Lark

DH and I had a brutal week a few weeks ago. Work was both high volume and high complexity, DH had 2 evening commitments, and one of the animals (and therefore one of our credit cards) wound up at the emergency vet, and everyone was fighting colds. By Friday night all I wanted to do was put on PJs at 6pm and have a glass of wine, but we had a friend’s birthday party to attend first. I woke up Saturday morning completely wrung out, and determined to spend the weekend recharging my batteries.

I ended up splitting my day into 4 parts. In the morning I puttered around the house, catching up on the laundry, paperwork, and general clutter that snuck in while I was distracted with the week. This went a long way to restoring my mood, since I’m definitely a person who needs outer order for inner calm. Then we all went out to lunch, which I love doing as a family on the weekends. After lunch I ran a couple errands, and bought the boys new basketballs. This was a strategic move on my part – when I got home from running errands they were thrilled to have new balls and spent the next 2 hours outside playing basketball wearing themselves out while I sat on the couch and read a book. When they came in, I spent another hour or 2 on general housework, and then a delightful hour cooking dinner while watching college basketball.

By evening, I felt a million times better. The house was back to general order, I’d had some downtime, and I’d had the double treat of a lunch date and a couple hours to myself reading.

When you’ve had an unusually exhausting week, how do you recharge to get your energy back?