Advanced Degrees

by L

Here is a new one: more fodder for our frequent discussions of “You should go to the best grad school possible”:

The Academy’s Dirty Secret
An astonishingly small number of elite universities produce an overwhelming number of America’s professors.

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138 thoughts on “Advanced Degrees

  1. He and his colleagues found, as the paper puts it, a “steeply hierarchical structure that reflects profound social inequality.”

    What does that actually mean?

  2. That quote reminds me of the crap that I used to write in blue books to get a high grade in certain classes.

  3. In other words…it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

    Not much new here.

    The same kind of thing is certainly true for, e.g. Law or MBA students. The graduates from the top schools will have an easier time of getting their first job upon graduation than graduates from 3rd-4th tier schools competing for slots at “top”, however you define it, hiring firms in biglaw, consulting, I-banking, corporate finance.

  4. Right now we are desperately trying to hire a CS professor. We don’t need to hire from one of the tiny subset of elite universities – we just need someone reasonably competent with a CS PhD. But as soon as we call one in for an interview, he or she has already been snapped up

  5. I think a lot of humanities PhD programs, and even masters programs, should be closed down. We have a relative with a MS in English from a very low status directional state u, whose only employment (and he has two kids) is on weekends setting up instructional labs at one of the big for profit schools. His MS is not worth much.

    The landscape in business, engineering, nursing, and computer science is very different. In those fields, competition for faculty is stiff. Nursing is particularly bad.

  6. “One explanation for this skewed hiring system is that lower-prestige institutions are trying to emulate their high-prestige brethren.”

    Yup…

  7. The worst part of this is young adults taking the time and spending the money for an advanced degree that ends up being essentially worthless to them in the job market. It concerns me as I my kids approach college age that we have a better idea of what level of education is needed to pursue their (yet to be) chosen career path and how much the school they graduate from matters. I realize that going to the top rated school has benefits. But, the question is more along the lines that if the top school costs you $50K more, to only get $5K a year more in starting salary, does it make sense to pay for that school? Granted, if in this article, it makes a huge difference, then it makes more sense. How many students pursuing academia even understand how the system works?

    For some professions the education level is more transparent. For example, a bachelors in psychology does not seem to open many doors in the field, or pharmacy and architecture seem to be moving to 5 year programs that graduate the student with both the bachelors and masters degrees.

  8. As I recall, the same situation applied twenty years ago when I was in grad school. I went to one of the top five schools in my discipline, so getting a faculty job right out of school was fairly standard, IF one was male or female and likely not to let a husband get in the way of pursuing tenure wherever.

  9. Totally agree with Mooshi at 10:25 and AustinMom at 10:54. I don’t have much to add to those thoughts. Though I do think this ties back to a discussion from last week–wasn’t there some discussion regarding the fact that if a grad-level humanities program isn’t offering you money, it’s probably not a good idea?

  10. Durst? Among other things he’s (one of the heirs) to “8.5 million square feet of Class A office space in Midtown Manhattan and over 1 million square feet of luxury residential rentals.”

  11. When I was in grad school, I remember running into a guy that I had gone to high school with. He was getting a Masters in philosophy at San José State. I managed to refrain from saying “WTF are you going to do with a MA in philosophy from San José State?” After all, it’s an interesting discipline and maybe he just wanted to study it for awhile. Checking LinkedIn, he seems to have done some IT stuff for a series of decent employers and now seems to be the Biosciences Proposal Coordinator for a Big Silicon Valley Think Tank. That’s probably decent pay and bennies. Might even be reasonably interesting.

  12. Austin –
    I read your question as $50k more over 4 years, meaning year 1 is $12.5k more than the next best alternative.
    assuming a 4% tuition rate increase over the course of a 4-year bachelors program and a 10% discount rate, the breakeven is in year 24 after graduation. Translated: assuming a kid graduates at 22 and works straight through, all years after age 46 will be advantaged economically.
    Year 16 after graduation if you prefer an 8% discount rate.
    ceteris paribus

  13. So oil is down an additional 3% today, and U.S. stock markets are up around 1%. That’s good.

  14. “WTF are you going to do with a MA in philosophy from San José State?”

    It serves as a “people like us” class/status marker for entrée into certain types of jobs. This is especially true if it’s a parent funded “fun” masters.

  15. From San José State?

    Yes, the key is being able to work; “When I was in grad school”, “I met her in grad school”, “When I was a grad student” into every conversation where it could possibly fit and even some where it doesn’t. For an obvious example look at pretty much every salon.com article.

  16. In my town full of PhD’s, there’s definitely a lot of “When I was in grad school…” – often with the location thrown in for good measure.

    Just out of curiosity, I checked my local electrical & computer engineering department’s faculty bios. Sure enough, the same names kept appearing in my unscientific survey: Purdue, Cornell, Illinois, Iowa, Carnegie-Mellon, and Virginia Tech. (With VT in top 25 rather than top 10 but demonstrating a preference for home-grown talent.)

  17. Mooshi, is the pay for computer science professors competitive with the other options for Com Sci PhD’s in your area? I have a friend who loves com sci academia and worked as an instructor after she finished her PhD because her husband was employed as a software engineer. But the pay was really low, and not a lot better for tenure track professors. (My 40ish circuit design professor observed that he made $75k as a professor in ~2002 and could make ~$150k in industry. Two married EE professors left academia and he easily earned in industry what they’d made together in academia and she stayed home with their baby and maybe subsequent kids.)

  18. I think the same thing about closing low ranking law schools, like the one we call “New England School of Law and Crap” (best if you say “law” like “lawr”).

    Just got out of jury duty – thank goodness! My number for the day was 1 (not making that up) so I am glad that both cases settled and there was nothing else on the docket!

  19. “My 40ish circuit design professor observed that he made $75k as a professor in ~2002 and could make ~$150k in industry.”

    Couldn’t he have supplemented that, e.g., consulting on the side? One of my circuit design profs asked for– and got– $500/hour to consult.

  20. Oh, yeah, totally geeked-out pi day here. I made pie, which I served at 9:26 PM, while we were watching “Life of Brian.”

    This has been a PSA by Geeks ‘R Us.

  21. Finn, he may have consulted on the side. But at least at that time, consulting on the side would have involved travel, which would not have paid $500/hour. The $150k likely would have been in the Bay Area, where housing prices and commutes are some multiple of here.

  22. I would imagine that consulting could’ve easily been done without traveling back in 2002. So he could’ve lived in a low COL area, albeit at a low base salary, but complemented that handsomely with consulting. I suppose the key would be getting consulting clients, which would be easier if he first spent time somewhere like SV.

  23. The issue with nursing faculty is the same as WCE mentioned – they can make much more in practice than they can teaching. Interestingly, at the school where I got my BSN, they paid the business department faculty more than other departments for that reason. The nursing department lobbied for a similar increase and was denied. The business faculty is mostly male and the nursing faculty is almost completely female. So the nursing department continues to struggle to attract good teachers.

  24. Finn, have you observed successful consulting relationships that don’t start out with FaceTime? People here who work for employers remotely almost always started the job onsite and continued working after their spouse moved here. I don’t observe the success with working remotely that many people on this board have- one of my contractor colleagues had a much better position in Portland for a few years but got tired of only seeing his kids on weekends and so moved back, for example.

  25. This article doesn’t surprise me. And is partially the reason I didn’t want to go into academia. Too many applicants for too few jobs.

    This article does bring up the point of closing some grad programs. There are too many PhDs in the US. And closing programs or making them more competitive would solve some of the supply/demand issues.

    I think Rhett’s right about the ‘when I was in grad school…’ Thing. Even now, I hear people saying ‘oh you need a masters. It doesn’t matter in what, just to have it on the resume’. That’s a bit scary to me. I guess it’s logical though. It was ‘you have to go to college’ now it’s ‘you have to go to grad school’ regardless of career aspirations.

  26. ‘oh you need a masters. It doesn’t matter in what, just to have it on the resume’.

    There is some truth to that. But, I’m not really sure the actual dynamic and to what jobs it applies.

  27. A few of my friends who were international students have multiple grad degrees. If they finished their first grad degree and were faced with a recession they continued in school till the job market improved. There were a few who got so used to being in an academic environment that they continued there, even though that was not their initial plan. The accidental academics married women with good incomes which turned out well schedule wise for their families.

  28. Although I bring it up all the time here, I have a hard time working, “when I was in grad school” into a conversation in real life. Just a few weeks ago, someone, a decades long acquaintance no less, was surprised about my terminal degree. Maybe I just don’t give off the right vibe.

    How do you guys work it into conversation?

  29. How do you guys work it into conversation?

    Oh, you can work it in basically any conversation.

    “You got a new car?” “Yes, I’ve been partial to Honda’s since I had my trusty civic back in grad school. But, they were offering such a good deal on the Sienna.”

    “Any plans for dinner?” “I think I’m going to make my favorite tempeh, kale and quinoa casserole. I started making it back when I was a starving grad student, but it’s just so good it’s one of my main go to meals.”

    Etc.

  30. I guess “When I was in grad school” is something I’ve been guilty of but I didn’t think of it in any way other than “When I was in high school…” or “When DS1 was a baby…”

    Is admitting you were in grad school something to be avoided? I worked with my closest colleague (a decade ago) for over 2 years before discovering he had a PhD, so maybe I’ve been missing something socially.

  31. WCE, I had to have someone explain to me a while ago that Rhett has a thing about advanced degrees, likes to make fun of them and doesn’t really get that there are people there who don’t feel any better being made fun of than anyone else does. I agree with you that using a major event in your life as a time marker is a pretty normal thing to do, and bet he uses phrases like “when we were first married” or other stuff that other people cant say because they haven’t done it. When he starts this kind of stuff, I try to ignore it.

  32. “When he starts this kind of stuff, I try to ignore it.”

    Try a little harder next time.

  33. Rhett,

    The whole question was, how do you work it into conversation without seeming like a twit? Or without appearing to be someone useful in a medical emergency?

  34. Well Saac, people tend to have chip on their shoulder about things they lack.

    Now if only we were talking about how much money per effort we made………..

  35. The whole question was, how do you work it into conversation without seeming like a twit?

    No.

  36. Surely you recognize that some people aren’t using “when I was in grad school” as a time marker, but rather are using it the same way someone else might work in “since I’ve been driving the BMW”. Not everyone, of course. So if you’re not one of them, then the poking isn’t directed at you. I can’t believe that even having an advanced degree is something to be sensitive about on here.

  37. Rhett, you can apply for a masters program now if you want. Grad classes often meet just one night a week, so you could take one class at a time for several years. And then after your thesis your be one of us and maybe a bit nicer :)

  38. Giving credit where credit is due, especially for droll comedy, to anon @ 249

  39. Rocky, were you stunned too? After all these conversations about retirement plans in which he claims he has no plans because he’ll never retire, now he whips this out.

    Rhett, if you stretch it out with one class per year, you will have plenty of time to savor your transformation into one of “the other”, as you seem to have people marked.

  40. Rocky, were you stunned too?

    Saac voted for Reagan… the world is full of surprises.

  41. I’m sure I have said it as a time marker before as others mentioned “back when I was in the MBA program” you can tell the people that try to work this stuff into conversation ALL THE TIME to brag vs the ones using it as a marker IMO

  42. winemama – ding ding ding! Then there are those of us who try to downplay it. Don’t get a stuffed head! :)

  43. Uh…I was the hula hoop champion of my second grade class.

    NO, were you really? I was the hula hoop champion of my street in fourth grade. I really don’t work that into conversation often enough.

  44. At the same type of dreadful meeting, we are occasionally asked “What book have you just finished reading?” My go-to answer is “Gastrointestinal Health: A Self-Help Nutritional Program to Prevent, Cure, or Alleviate Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Ulcers, Heartburn, Gas, Constipation & Many Other Digestive Disorders, Revised Edition.”

    I never get follow-up questions.

  45. For time markers, how about saying ” in 1999″ or “when I was 22”? When you reference grad school as a time marker, it’s hard to not sound like a twit. Unless you’re talking sports teams–then it’s all good. ; )

    Likewise, I roll my eyes at people who sign their names with their degrees. Do you HAVE to put John Doe, MBA??

  46. Likewise, I roll my eyes at people who sign their names with their degrees. Do you HAVE to put John Doe, MBA??

    I had a coworker who literally signed her Christmas cards with “Dr. Mary Smith”.

  47. I agree with winemama’s 3:26–there are people who are bringing it up un-self-conciously, and then there are people doing it to call attention to it. I personally try to avoid mentioning law school for the reasons L mentioned–who really cares unless they are actually asking me about it? I can talk about the city or stuff I did during school without mentioning it.

    Rhett, HA to your 3:35–I was going to say, it’s similar to people who always must mention that they went to undergrad in Cambridge.

  48. “For time markers, how about saying ” in 1999″ or “when I was 22″?”

    I like to use a lot of “aughts” in coversation: “In twenty-aught-six, we visited…”

  49. Milo,

    Of you could use, “at the turn of the century.” I remember back at the turn of the century when we first got wifi.

  50. RMS, I wish I had an interesting fact like that! I can never think of anything good for those types of icebreakers. Alas, my hula hooping skills were mediocre at best.

  51. I once had a priest who worked “When I was at Harvard Divinity School” into at least a sermon/month. Of all the ppl you would expect NOT to drop something like that …

  52. “I remember back at the turn of the century when we first got wifi.”

    I’m trying to remember when that happened. I don’t think I did until, well, twenty aught six actually. We just had a laptop plugged in until then.

  53. Milo,

    I remember it like it was yesterday. I came home from Best Buy all excited to get it set up. We had Ethernet cables running across the floor until then. And only very recently before that – dial up.

  54. Rocky – I love your book answer!

    I think we also got wifi around 2006. Whenever the first iPhone came out.

  55. I sometimes refer to “back when I was a grad student” because it was a major point in my life – I met my DH and my best friend there. In many cases, I am about to tell some anecdote that wouldn’t make sense unless you knew it was grad school based, so saying “back when I was 23” wouldn’t set it up right. “back when I was in grad school, everyone knew Joe Smith was a mean advisor” , or “back when I was a grad student, we had parties in the TA bullpen” just make more sense phrased like that.

    I still socialize with a lot of my grad school buddies. Do any of the rest of you do that?

  56. “And only very recently before that – dial up.”

    Yes, yes. I remember the first time I posted on a Prodigy bulletin board about how to get through a particular part of one of Sierra’s “Quest” games. I got about five or six answers, and I thanked them all, and they told me that there’s really no need to thank each person.

  57. Oh, I’m sure you’ve got something back there in your history, June. You just have to unearth it and then remember it. Have you, for instance, read all the Trixie Belden mysteries? Did you ever spend a family vacation at some incredibly boring place like The Hitching Post Inn in Cheyenne, WY? Can you tie the six knots needed for the Boy Scout Basic Knots Merit Badge?* Can you recite all the things that Talking Stacy used to say, including “I think miniskirts are smashing!” and “What’s playing at the cinema? Shall we go?”

    *https://meritbadge.org/wiki/images/5/5d/Six-Boy-Scout-Knots.pdf

  58. Wifi was 2003…I remember it because I got it hooked up the week after I got laid off, figuring I’d need a better computer solution than dial up.

  59. “I still socialize with a lot of my grad school buddies.”

    so do we (it’s really we…to use a line from upthread “I met her when we were in grad school”) and it’s only been, oh, probably since before you were a tot, Rhode, that we were all actually in school together.

  60. RMS – my sister and I know all the lines Mrs. Beasley said. I will tell her that we must both start using this as an intro answer in meetings.

  61. How many of us met our spouse/partner in grad school and were they in the same program?

  62. Rocky– I love the book reference!

    Is it the same to refer to law school? I don’t do it much, but given what I do, I always figured the fact that I went to law school wasn’t really interesting. More a time/place marker because some stories, like the tiniest studio apartment I ever lived in, are sort of place-specific.

  63. I met my DH when I was in undergrad and he was getting his masters. By prevailing standards, we were babies.

  64. I met my DH in grad school, and yes we were in the same program. We met in an especially stressful “big project” course, although we were in different project groups. I was in fact 22 when I met him, although we didn’t get married for many more years

  65. Murphy spent her childhood playing horseback tag with her cousins, if I recall correctly. (Or was it horseback hide-and-go-seek?) She doesn’t need to stretch for an interesting “about me” item.

  66. Murphy – another option is to simply steal from RMS. Want to be 2d grade hula hoop champion at your next meeting? Go for it. We won’t tell.

  67. HM – oh man, that *was* Murphy, wasn’t it? Murphy – that’s so much better than anything I could pull out. I might steal that …

  68. Rhett – That sound brings back so many memories! Unfortunately the worst one was of being on call and having to sign in on the “take home computer” to try to fix a job that had blown up.

    OK, sorry if I’ve told this before, but one time I got called in the middle of the night and the guy at the data center said that job xyz had blown up with a SOC 4. I sleepily asked him “what’s a SOC 4 again?”, and he answered “to put on under your shoes”. I don’t know if he’d been waiting to tell that to someone for awhile!

  69. I met DH while I was in grad school but he was not. He was glad to be out of school.

  70. If you *really* want to sound like a twit, “use a lot of “aughts” in coversation: ‘In twenty-aught-six, we visited…'”
    If I’m around people who I know will find grad school hard to deal with, I may also watch that instead of referencing “undergrad”, I say “college”

  71. If I were after RMS in the introduction, I probably wouldn’t have a question but I would offer her a fecal transplant- my children’s ages mean that I’m immune to everything, and I’m a donor candidate for fecal transplants because of I’m full of $hit.

    I am obliged to mention graduate school because I have to explain that Mr WCE cooked, cleaned and did the laundry during Dead and Finals weeks. We hang out with quite a few couples where the husband doesn’t/won’t/can’t do housework. We had a kid with an earache and Mr WCE went to a church potluck where someone whose wife was sick brought Little Caesar’s. We also joke that he’s a rebel because he made our family’s dessert contribution for the annual Lessons and Carols service at church, even though the bulletin says the desserts are made by “The Ladies of Our Church.”

  72. Some employers and, often times government jobs, require additional education to move up in the organization that cannot be “replaced” with a similar amount of experience for the person to qualify. Sometimes it is a degree, but also it can be a certification or an area that is degree+ experience path to licensure in a particular field.

    This happens for three reasons (1) a valid reason such as a finishing law or medical school or (2) figuring out how to evaluate experience is hard and inexact to select between candidates (this seems to be behind the reason that teachers must have more education to move up the pay ladder) and (3) to reduce the candidate pool to a reasonable number.

    I have a friend who can do the next job on his career ladder with his government employer, as shown by his covering for the other position for 9 months (6 months she was out due to pregnancy complications and 3 months it took to fill the job after she quit). But, the next job up requires a master’s degree that he didn’t have. His employer sees it as a checkbox – so he completed the least expensive, fastest program he could find and got the job. Upon completion, he qualified and got the job – because the hiring manager could mark the box!

  73. “Before grad school, the siblings and I played wild games of hide and seek on horseback”.

    I think I will swipe the hula hoop champion story.

  74. RMS, ha! I will have to brainstorm so that next time I am prepared. Your book answer is brilliant, by the way.

    Murphy, re: your question, I met my husband in law school.

    Tulip, I think law school can cut both ways. If you’re practicing as a lawyer, obviously you went to law school, so (assuming the person knows you’re a lawyer), you’re not really introducing anything new to the conversation (as opposed to bringing it up out of the blue). On the other hand, they know you went to law school–so no need to bring it up gratuitously. But I think that what L and I were thinking of are situations where it’s not necessary information–so for example if you’re telling someone where you met your spouse, or relating some relevant story about a class experience like Mooshi mentioned, you’re not bringing it up just for the sake of bringing it up. To be honest I’ve given this more explicit thought today than I probably have in my entire life combined, so I’m not sure this is something that I feel all that strongly about–just something I realized today that I try to subconsciously avoid unless necessary.

  75. WCE, with the move, we recently started attending a new church and a few guys in the new Sunday school class apparently fall into the can’t/won’t/don’t do housework camp. It’s interesting because the rest clearly don’t fall into that camp and it’s quite a stark contrast. Personally I’m all for whatever division of labor works for your family and we definitely divide certain things in the typical way, but from some of the comments these few guys make it seems like they haven’t really caught on to the fact that they’re in the minority in terms of their approach to housework (or lack thereof).

  76. Typical was the wrong word choice, I really mean what is perceived by some as the “traditional” way.

  77. Thanks Fred. You’ve either made me feel very young or guilty for making you feel old.

    Since grad school just ended, I hang out with those friends. My closest friends are half way across the country so our hang outs are through skype.

    Murphy- I met DH in high school. Married 7 years later DS 8.5 years after that.

    I find that I don’t toss out the PhD in conversation. Nor do I use ‘Dr.’ on non-professional things. I do say ‘ during the Masters’ or ‘during the PhD’ when trying to pinpoint a time period. Only during high school reunion things do I break out the degree to use it pretentiously. I figure I’m ‘behind’ on the kid front so I might as well have an excuse! ;)

  78. June– Thinking about it, the issue only ever seems to come up when I’m hanging out with friends and we are reminiscing about life before kids. We’re all sharing school memories, and there isn’t any humble-bragging going on. You’re right that until this was brought up today I never really gave it much though!

    I feel the same way about certain conversations with friends about spouses. Sometimes people start a round-robin of complaining and, while I can complain and moan with the rest of them, it starts to feel like I either have to make something up or do the spousal equivalent of comparing someone’s broken leg to my hangnail. So I generally back out.

  79. Ya know, I always suspected Rocky and HM were the same person. The hula hoop champ “coincidence” would seem to confirm that.

    Today is the day I feel like writing a “Dear CPS” letter: dear CPS, today I am allowing my competent 13-yr-old to walk my competent 9-yr-old 3/4 mile home from school, because I am out of town and DH got called to a late mandatory meeting. Please don’t arrest us and take them to foster care.” UGH. You know, it’s a shame that I have to worry more about someone calling social services than I do about my kids’ safety.

  80. Laura, amen to that!

    It’s St Patrick’s day! I’ve asked my kid several times if they were going to do anything at school, just found out that yes, they can wear green clothes. Too bad the washing machine doesn’t go that fast!

  81. “I am allowing my competent 13-yr-old to walk my competent 9-yr-old 3/4 mile home from school”

    We’ve hired a competent 14-yr-old to babysit three kids.

  82. DD will be walking home by herself from school. Given the location of school and home, I see no reason why. not. If the weather is bad – so be it, she can take a jacket and use an umbrella.

  83. And there are some friends who haven’t completed/or gone to college so I don’t go around talking about “when I was in college…”

  84. BTW – I chatted with the lady that runs DS’s school bus service. I informed her that DS would be walking back and forth from the bus stop. No parent would be there to pick him up.
    She brought up the weather…..we ended the conversation with “If you take responsibility for the kid walking home, we are OK”.

  85. Don’t you know that rain can melt a child? Back in the day the beginning of the end of a friendship with a neighbor came when we disagreed on whether our daughters could walk to school together. She hesitantly agreed, until the first day it rained and then she decided I was a barbarian.

  86. Fred – I was in no way accepting the legitimacy of the markets retreating in the past couple weeks. So…energy is cheap, unemployment is lower than ever, hiring is up, the dollar is strong and, oh wait, things are going so well that the Fed will soon feel confident enough to raise rates? “Sell!!” It’s crazy.

  87. CoC – LOL! We are still driving the kids to school now because the snowbanks are still blocking all of the sidewalks. If I or the nanny had only #1 child we could walk ONLY her, but there is no way to watch out for the 3 kids and cars with only 2 eyes. ;)

  88. the dollar is strong

    Which lowers corporate profits. If Coke Europe makes a profit of EUR1 Billion it used to generate $1.4 billion to Coke’s bottom line. Now, it’s $1.05 billion.

  89. Milo – I just think the market(s) has/have its/their own dynamic(s).

    I have given up trying to predict any kind of short term movement…every time I start thinking it might be time to put some $$ into cash until things correct downward by 10% we have a day like yesterday.

    Having firmly bought into the low-cost stock index fund approach for the majority of our money over the past couple of years, more recently I have been assessing the “all-in” stock approach, given that if I/we retire I think that’s ~10yrs away and a least now our significant upcoming expenses are reserved-for. Some of our $$ is in more specialty funds (Biotech/pharma, technology, mid-small cap stocks, international dividend) the goal of which is to capture some of the alpha (return in excess of the basic total stock market index) has happened in the past.

    One thing is clear…I’m never going to reach my financial goals unless I am in the equity markets. And for those, either we are in or we are out. For now we are in. And I try like hell to ignore the day-to-day movements.

  90. “Which lowers corporate profits. If Coke Europe makes a profit of EUR1 Billion it used to generate $1.4 billion to Coke’s bottom line. Now, it’s $1.05 billion.”

    Back when I was in grad school (just kidding, actually this is from when I was in Navy nuke school) one of the courses was Reactor Dynamics / Core Characteristics. The bread and butter of this course was a certain type of problem where one parameter changes and you have to analyze the way that parameter change affects the different contributors to reactivity, and ultimately whether power goes up or down. Then you have to write a paragraph explaining the answer, and in some cases one aspect might contribute to power going one direction, but another will push it the opposite direction. And the test grading requirements insist that you clearly note “dominant variable” next to the part that is having the dominant effect.

    I recall that thought process a lot when I’m reading the typical mainstream financial commentary. You can take just about any change and point out where it’s going to hurt profits, but I think when you’re primarily invested in domestic stocks, a strong dollar is a positive dominant variable.

  91. For those of you concerned with Leprechaun welfare, I can report that we once again failed to catch one. Luckily we broke even because the tooth fairy also paid us a visit.

  92. Louise – No green footprints, but he left a couple of notes in green ink. He took our gold dollar coin that we’d left as bait.

    DH really got into it this year, helping the boys with two traps, and writing the notes, implicating Mr. Porky and pals (their pig stuffed animals). The leprechaun must have tricked/magicked the pigs into helping them and then got trapped themselves. We did not have any M&Ms on hand and then one boy’s tooth came out so we stuck with a gold dollar coin under his pillow. The boys were thrilled.

  93. Navy nuke school sounds much more impressive than grad school. Too bad I can’t appropriate that, like the hula hoop champ title I’m planning to start using.

  94. My anecdote about my falling out with the neighbor reminded me of meme’s comment the other day, how she would never make it as a parent in today’s UMC environment. Several people chimed in asserting that a parent can successfully stand their ground against community norms. While I don’t dispute that, in reality going against the crowd can take quite a toll, for parents and for children.

  95. I thought about several posters yesterday as DS and I discussed a school project. We talked about the navy bases in World War II – I thought of Milo, HM and Rhode.
    DS has seen the bases at Norfolk and San Diego. We haven’t been to Pearl Harbor.

  96. CoC – I was just giving a colleague advice on standing up to parents/friends’ advice and community norms re: babies, breastfeeding, etc. My go to response was – “Oh, our pediatrician suggested we do it this way.” The person almost always backed off. I wonder if there is an equivalent in other social settings – work, school.

  97. The leprechaun turned the water green in the toilet bowl last year. I always say “when I was in school” since this works for everyone. I may try to use a technology reference for the children: “in the time of dial up”, “when I wrote a program on cassette tape”, “when email could not be accessed across all platforms” per yesterday’s discussion. While on technology, we went to a Great Wolf Lodge a couple weeks ago. The wristband with your room key and billing information was surprisingly pleasant. Maybe the Iwatch will not be a total fail.

  98. ATM – pediatrician advice…I just took someone out of my FB feed because every post is now about how “traditional” medicine is a scam…from mercury in vaccines to linking vaccines to autism to flouride in water to folic acid added to foods…and how we would all be healthier if we just…insert some fad or disproven advice. In personal conversations, she will challenge a comment where you say “my pediatrician or doctor” comments with awhole tirade about not doing your own research that ends with let me send your or tell you about…. I learned easier way to deflect by saying something like, “What improvements have you seen in your family since following that advice?” Yes, she will go on for a bit, but by then she has forgotten what it was she was critical of you for doing.

  99. “While on technology, we went to a Great Wolf Lodge a couple weeks ago.”

    We have a reservation around Easter Break, just one night, so two days of swimming. The kids are happier than pigs in sh1t.

  100. We went to GWL with 2 kid friends. Taking friends meant I got a large amount of time to talk with the wife. The only downside was having to dig a retainer out of the trash.

  101. ATM, such sweet creativity, from all sides!

    CoC, Meme and I have both commented before that we can be socially clueless sometimes. That can be a real help in cases such as the neighbor shunning you for not following her parenting philosophy.

  102. AustinMom – Oh, it wasn’t bullet proof. I like your change in the conversation to “how is that working for you”, to paraphrase. Gets the conversation off of you and lets them talk about themselves, which most people are happy to do. I’ll keep that one in mind.

  103. S&M — I am also often quite clueless in social situations, which can be a help. However, in my example and in many other cases, being shunned may not hurt personally but may hurt in other meaningful ways. The shunned person may not learn about important news typically shared only with friends or may be excluded from enriching activities. Worst of all, the child can be shunned or miss out in different ways.

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