Tortes and Tarts

by Louise

“Mini tarts for an aging tart”. I loved this line and I have come to think of Totebaggers as Tortes (the guys) and Tarts (the girls).

BTW, my neighbor called her friends, women over seventy “the girls”.

As you, Tortes and Tarts have gotten older, what are things you do, that are the privilege of being a certain age? Speaking your mind, two glasses of wine, instead of one, a full cookie instead of half? What are your thoughts on aging?

Here is a snapshot of people who are 100 years old – there is drinking, dancing and marathon running.

David Bailey: this is what 100 looks like


176 thoughts on “Tortes and Tarts

  1. The very best part of becoming a woman of a certain age is that I just do not give a sh*t what people think. I’m carving out the best possible life for my little clan, tending to the people I love, and populating my world with only people I consider kind and funny. I’ve let some friendships fall by the wayside with people who were fun in my younger days, but who are at the core not particularly nice. I have begun friendships with people I might not have embraced at a younger age, but who are very good people and bring out an aspirational better me. (And that is not career-aspirational, that is better human being-aspirational). I have really no gossipers in my life at this point, and no one who takes pleasure in others tribulations. It’s quite nice.

  2. Great post!

    The very best part of becoming a woman of a certain age is the freedom to let go of career ambition, to slow down, and do only what makes me happy. I’ve mentioned before that my current job pays much less than my previous one. That said, I enjoy what I’m doing and my work load is very manageable.

    My older DS will soon head to college and I’m really enjoying these last few years with him.

  3. I ran into someone I went to high school with at the airport the other day and all I could think was, “You’re an old man!” And this is someone in their late 30s. On the other hand, I know people who look exactly the same at 40 as they did at 20. In doing some research, it seems that the biggest contributor to someone looking older than their years, at least at this age, is weight gain.

    To that end, I cut out booze and have been hitting the gym every day at the hotel and as I was walking down the hall at work the other day I realized that I needed to pull my belt in another notch. So, so far so good.

  4. Hmm…at what age does this begin? My mom in her 90’s not longer censors what she says to people. This is sometimes inappropriate and in a few cases may have been hurtful to the recipient. She also orders what she wants to eat regardless of how that is viewed.

    After passing the half century mark, I would say that I am less likely to do things if they aren’t fun, aren’t rewarding is some way, or aren’t supporting my family. For example, I have let certain professional organization memberships drop.

  5. Things I have let go of: going out late/partying (was never a big thing in the first place), drinking red wine or more than 2 drinks a day (I can’t afford the headaches), worrying about being part of the cool group (I will never be!).

    Things I have NOT let go of: vanity. I don’t want to get fat ever and I also wish I didn’t have to get old. Rhett, I notice the same thing with my HS friends/acquaintances, but there are also 2 big things for women besides weight gain: sun damage/wrinkles, and smoking/drinking. You can really tell if someone has lived HARD.

  6. For women, I often think it is the opposite. You gotta pick – face or a$$. Only one will look good as you age. For the most part, being skinny ages women as they get older. Unless you add fillers. Then you just start to look weird.

  7. Having recently had 30 year high school reunion and 25 year college reunion, the women who have aged the least are fitness instructors or huge fitness buffs. It’s not just not being fat, it is much healthier looking skin and hair, etc. A couple of them were vegetarian or vegan, but that is recent enough that I’m not sure it’s a big factor. I think getting enough sleep makes a big difference in how old I look (in addition to coloring my brows, which went gray faster than my hair). I think exercise is the magic elixir for youth.

  8. My primary thought on aging is that it beats the alternative. Going through the multi-year terminal cancer process with two parents, and juggling that with pregnancy and babies, has made us seem/feel older than our peers. It’s only now, when our friends are in their 40’s, that other people have started “getting” parental health issues. I loved RMS’s comment about her mom’s personality, because my mom had a similar personality and unlike Louise’s mom, she’s going to die before she mellows. Part of me wishes I were closer right now, and part of me is darn glad I moved 2,000 miles away when I did.

    I try to maintain my weight for health’s sake and at 40, my hormones are normalizing about 25 years late. I’ve never had much to be vain about, but the older I get, the easier it is to exceed the “average” bar in appearance. I would say teeth reflect a person’s life here- regular dental care throughout life is important. Fillers are uncommon and smoking wasn’t common in my age range. And it’s hard to have really excessive sun exposure in the Willamette Valley.

    I’m still trying to maintain/restart a career but it will be a simple, unremarkable one- I’ll never reach the levels many of you have and I’m OK with that. David Brooks had a column about the “eulogy virtues” vs. “the resume virtues” and I liked that [admittedly imperfect] categorization.

  9. I think exercise is the magic elixir for youth.

    For a while I had been feeling like I was in a mental fog and generally feeling like crap. The second day of the gym and I felt 10x better. It’s almost as if as you get older the exercise has more impact on how you feel.

  10. Cat – I guess I”m choosing face… I’ve never had an a$$ to begin with…

    This post is making me figure out how to fit exercise into my life… The Y isn’t that expensive for the family if we use the membership…

  11. I have trouble coming up with much that is positive about aging. The fact that I need glasses, not just one pair but three (and don’t tell me to get trifocals because I have owned several and hated them), and the fact that I really do have to wear makeup at work now, and that I have neck wrinkles, is what I think of when I think of aging. I was getting all depressed until I saw WCE’s quip “My primary thought on aging is that it beats the alternative”. So I will just keep that in my mind.

  12. I kind of like aging.

    Unless it comes from my son or my sisters, I simply won’t put up with bullshit anymore. Unless it involves my kid’s school, I won’t do anything I don’t want to do. (“What? You’re telling me that I have to do this? Well, watch me not.”)

    I speak up more. Respectfully, I hope, but see above.

    And the endgame becomes clearer. I’m okay with my religion. I think I’ve lived my life as a gentleman, even while living hard. I think I was a decent husband– I know I was loving and faithful. I’m doing the best I can as a dad. I have a few regrets. I have a few secrets.

    Now, I have to finish with Junior. At least launch him. I need to get my Lincoln Continental. I need to downsize dramatically. I want a studio apartment and an indoor cat.

    I don’t need to do anything professionally. With the exception of Milo’s flip over poison pill, I think I’ve done pretty much everything on the corporate side.

    I think I know how I’ll die (you all can figure out at least two of the likely options).

    I’m okay. I’ll admit to being a little tired. But I don’t mind aging. And it’s not like I have a choice.

  13. I seem to be headed in the other direction: the older I get, the more I have to do to keep up my appearance. And I am definitely not a makeup and manicure person.

    Never read the David Brooks article, but last week when DD was complaining about helping with one of my crazier DIY projects, I said that at least she would have a story to tell at my funeral. She did not think I was funny.

  14. When I age, I want a set of girlfriends I can call “the ladies”… or as a certain book called “Dose Yadies”. Right now I have a couple of friends who will be the ladies. I’d like a few more.

    I’m still in the stage of life where a pound here or there doesn’t make me upset… though I do get ridiculously excited when my son gains a few ounces here or there. But when you come into this world smaller than a bag of flour, you have to celebrate something. Tripling your birth weight is a good thing to celebrate. Gaining a steady 0.8 ounces a day is something to celebrate.

    Can we revisit this topic in 2 weeks when I attend my cousin’s 13th birthday? At almost 4 years old, she was my flower girl. Now she’s practically my height, has hit puberty with a vengeance, and is a competitive dancer. WTF? I still feel like I did 9 years ago, just a little wiser. 9 years and she’s an adult-like human.

  15. “For a while I had been feeling like I was in a mental fog and generally feeling like crap.”

    Rhett I felt like that too almost a year ago and while still working on the exercise part, just changing my diet (mainly cutting out sugar) has had a huge impact. My skin looks better and I feel better when I just don’t eat crap.

    I think it will be a while before I give up the vanity part too. I still care about what I look like and like fashion. And I still play along with people I don’t necessarily like because we’re in the same social circle.

    We had our 15 year college reunion last year and the women all looked amazing. We’ve all had a few kids but overall still look the same. The men were the ones who seemed to look a bit older (bit of a paunch, graying).

  16. Yes, it beats the alternative and it’s great to feel less pressure about all kinds of things, but I’m with Mooshi. I can no longer get away w/o makeup, it takes me way longer to recover after a workout, I am pretty sure I have a few gray hairs (I refuse to look too closely), I now have to wear cheater glasses almost all day to use my phone. I am from my father’s gene pool mostly and will get skinnier with age (and have been) and this really isn’t great – makes your face look bony and harsh and of course a prolonged illness could be a huge issue.

    I’m a glass half full person though so I guess I’ll focus on these things: with age has come greater financial security; with my age comes my kids’ age / maturity and they are more remarkable every day; I have far more leisure time bc like many of you, age has allowed me to cut out the bs; I have terrific friends for the same reason and bc age has given me the maturity to both choose and be a good friend; I’ve always wished I were easy going and with age I get closer to it, with huge leaps in the last two years or so (which may correlate with the kids’ maturity). Nicer to look at those thjngs than my chicken skin.

  17. I don’t think I can post the link (I’m at work) – but you should google “Inside Amy Schumer” – it will lead you to a video of “Last F***able Day” which is hilarious. It relates to the topic and discussion here. It features Tina Fey, Julia Louis Dreyfuss, Patricia Arquette and Amy Schumer.

    What I like about getting older is continuing to feel more comfortable in my own skin and not worrying about impressing others or whether they like me. The parents at both my kids’ schools and the people I work with are all down to earth, interesting people – so that makes it very easy to just be me.

  18. The one thing I notice about aging is the lower metabolism, especially in the past few years. Now, I have never been one who has consistently used my willpower to avoid eating when hungry (e.g. instead of rolling over and trying to sleep until the alarm goes off in a few more hours), but I have been better about it lately and I’ve gone to the gym well in excess of 500 times in the last 2yrs8mos.

    But I haven’t really lost weight. Sure, I’m in better shape, and overall probably healthier, but my clothes are really still the same size.

    Maybe today I will start spending some of that saved up willpower. Ha!

    Another thing now that I am older is that I can afford much nicer scotch, beer, wine.

  19. Fred – seriously. I eat a fraction of what I used to. Not that I eat nothing now, but I ate a LOT before my 40s. No can do now.

    Total rip off.

    DH drinks good scotch and beer but I’m still drinking cheap Barefoot Refresh. Maybe better wine would balance out the injustice of the slower metabolism. Shall consider this…

  20. Aging has stages. When you became tall enough to ride the roller coaster, got your driver’s license, bought your first legal drink, cast your first vote, it was a positive. When your body no longer did your athletic bidding without lots of aftercare or you developed wrinkles or other cosmetic signs of age despite all that exercise, sunscreen and good living you felt ambushed. Menopause may or may not be a hard transition, it has psychological issues for some and physically varies for women, but afterwards, woo hoo! Freedom from responsibility for others is usually liberating. Really old age is no picnic if you lose control of enough of your body or mind to need daily supervision or daily physical assistance. Those slim centenarians are the exception – great genes, moderate living and 100% of their wits, and even they just get lonely and tired after a while of outliving their entire cohort.

    The ability to opt out of the niceties of the social contract increases with age, although if you are really dependent physically it may be that a prickly person mellows as a survival technique. The Eff U phase in is gradual, and actually for me is not across the board. When there is no longer any need to please or serve so many others just to get by, you can pick your spots. You can now say no most of the time to stuff that you don’t want to do or people you don’t want to see, and concentrate all of your awareness and relationship energy on the area that really matters. The offset for me is that I have less patience with time wasters, fools, and idiots. I cut my losses quickly, and sometimes it is difficult to avoid being unkind or abrupt.

  21. Exericise and weight have very little to do with each other. There have never been good studies that show starting an exercise program leads to any significant weight loss. People end up compensating quite well for the calories they burn. A friend was morbidly obese and took up triathalons. She was competing at a pretty impressive level (half marathons and such) after a few years — at the same weight. It wasn’t until she met with a nutritionist and cleaned up her eating that she began to lose weight.

  22. Ada, oh, yeah, I know all that. If I had consumed an average of 100 calories / day less than what I have actually consumed since I started going to the gym I would have lost ~30 pounds more than I actually have lost.


    Eventually, maybe even today, I will be more mindful of how much of what I am consuming.

  23. Fred – I am in the same boat. I went to the gym consistently over the past two years, with a trainer. I went down a size but am up in weight. I am stronger, feel better and am better able to keep up with my kids, but skinny – no. I like food. I eat healthy food, but I like to eat. And, I will admit to a chocolate sweet tooth.

  24. The crappy part of being middle age is kids who are not out of HS and still need you and elderly parents who need you and feeling like there is no place to get away from it. You’re kinda of scared to drink that second drink, be out of phone contact, or go too far away because of what might happen to the parents, when you are the only child. But, they could live for years in the semi-independent state they are and by the time they are not your responsiblity you will be too old yourself to do the things on your bucket list. That sounds resentful, but at the same time, you love them and want to care for them.

  25. @Anon for this comment – I hear you. My parents are in their 80s and we didn’t go home for Christmas this past year and I felt very badly about it and I said to my husband ‘But what if this is their last Christmas?” and he said “We’ve been saying that for the past decade and we could possibly be saying it for another decade, we need to stop and have the Christmas that the four of us want to have.” He was right and we all ended up pretty sick so I guess it was a good call. It is like the sword of Damocles.

  26. You’re kinda of scared to drink that second drink, be out of phone contact, or go too far away because of what might happen to the parents

    Man, I hear you. And Mom had a second sense for when I was planning a vacation, because she’d manage to fall and be slammed into the ER (and need me to advocate for her) right when we were going to leave. It’s just a mercy she was 37 years older than I. She died eventually.

    I don’t know which good things are related to being older and which are related to having enough money to tell everyone to go take a flying f*ck if I need to.

  27. @12:53, that is a real issue when you are an only child. When mom was in a care facility and a long planned and paid for trip to New Zealand came up, older and wiser friends told me just to go. My adult children were too far away to assume first line responsibility, and the facility required someone local. However, in preparation I engaged a senior care manager with full decision making rights, she got to know mom in advance, called on her each week, and she even accompanied her to the holiday onsite family party while we were away. Effectively a stand in niece or daughter. When your kids go off to college, especially if your parents are still both living and muddling along, investing a little money in a paid advocate – you pay a retainer, convince your parents to sign forms allowing this person to speak with medical personnel, encourage and pay for the occasional visit, means that you can realistically go on vacation. Probably not to rural Bhutan, and you should buy the top of the line travel insurance, but you can do it.

  28. I don’t know which good things are related to being older and which are related to having enough money to tell everyone to go take a flying f*ck if I need to.

    This is a money one:

  29. I’m old enough to be getting some of the financial stability, professional confidence type benefits, but am decades away from the ‘eat/drink/do whatever I like because what difference does it make now?’ stage.

  30. OK, I am the weird one – I got skinnier as I hit middle age. I am back to my college weight. This happened about 6 years ago.

  31. The whole women get more confident after they hit 30 was true for me. i’m definitely more confident in myself now at 32. Part of it was learning to manage certain parts of my anxiety. i had a lot of worry in my 20s about my friends and how everyone was doing their own thing and marrying and having kids and how people didn’t return phone calls etc. After some therapy, i really learned to manage and also not to care. I have friends. they like me. if some of them suck (which they do) then i can deal with it and make new friends. I’ve also started to learn to say no for the simple reason of I don’t want to. or i’d rather do something else. that’s a big lesson

  32. When my 80-something grandmother had planned & paid for a cruise vacation for the whole family, she was smart enough to know that she should get the travel insurance. Sure enough, she fell down some stairs (on a seniors’ field trip to the planetarium, or all things) about 2 months before the trip and ended up with all sorts of complications and we had to cancel/reschedule for a year later.

  33. My weight and acne were huge issues in my teen years. As a result I have been in constant “maintenance” mode for years. Facials, watching what I eat, keeping active have become routine.
    Life got better as I got older. I got more confident, acne cleared up, weight went down. I liked clothes but at a certain point I could not fit into what I liked, much to my dismay. Now I can.
    It has been odd, this backwards experience.

  34. RMS – Their timing isn’t quite that bad, but just when I think things are going OK, they are not. I need to go check on them tomorrow after a flare up of a chronic disease of my mom’s.

    Meme – I love that idea, I can’t see them going for it – someone is in their business. I’ll start to see what might be available in our area.

  35. The last few years have been so rough for me that I have a hard time seeing past my 40s. I aspire to be like those of you who have found balance and learned not to care what others think. I want to lose weight and be healthy (especially to be a good role model for my daughter), but I’m so unhappy about other parts of my life that I want to enjoy food and not deprive myself. At least I have good skin compared to my 41-year-old friends who worshipped the sun, smoked, and went to bed with full makeup on after partying every night in our 20s. If you look at me from the neck up, I can pass for 30!

  36. I’m like Fred– the slowing metabolism has been the biggest impact. I love food, but can no longer eat as much as I could, and my body is no longer able to process unhealthful, but delicious, food (e.g., sweets) like it used to.

    Some of that is also due to having kids, and no longer having as active a lifestyle because I no longer have the time for that. Back before kids, I had the time, and was very active. getting in at least an hour of physical activity (e.g., biking, full-court basketball) daily, and often spending much more than that on weekends (e.g., full days of skiing, century bike rides), and I felt really great, and had a lot of energy. This is consistent with Rhett’s recent experience, that exercise can make you feel better.

  37. SWVA – you have a tough row to hoe right now. Don’t expect too much of yourself. Just get through this however you can – then do the other stuff! xo

  38. I’ve been getting zits as part of what looks to be pre-menopause. It is very sad, but on the bright side, we have plenty of zit remedies around the house already.

    My hands are a dead giveaway of my real age. Also the faint cat’s-butt wrinkles I have starting up around my lips.

  39. We recently received a print of a photo a friend had had taken of our family, and my first thought was, hey, how come there’s some paint on my hair?

    Some other signs I’m not as young as I was include dryer skin and thicker nails. I’m also not as tall as I used to be.

  40. SWVA – I second Moxie – from someone on the other side, my outlook is so different than it was a few years ago and some things seem to be falling into place. I didn’t realize how much my personality was affected by the stress for at least a decade. I cringe at how I acted/responded to some things, but did the best I could at the time and am doing so much better now. Hang in there and take care of yourself the best you can.

    I accidentally discovered the affect sugar/processed flour has on me during my kitchen remodel. Since vegetables and lean protein were hard to prepare at home, I made sure to eat them almost exclusively at lunch and had greek yogurt, fruit and nuts for breakfast everyday. I dropped a significant amount of weight and my intermittent acne cleared up as did some hormonal issues. I now limit those things, but find if I have a little at dinner – like a slice of pizza – it doesn’t have the same affect that eating them throughout the day did. I am still dropping weight but at a much slower pace, which is just fine with me. Lucky for me I have good genes and no wrinkles – but I do have some dark spots from sun damage in my youth and have started really trying to take care of my skin.

  41. +1 on the metabolism. A zinc supplement has taken care of the acne, which was part of the regime when I had it as a teen. I think my hands give me away as well. I have been coloring my hair for years…initially more for fun, now more to cover the gray. As long as I work for people younger than I am and showing no gray, I have no intention of going gray.

  42. Tip for hands – I use a dark spot lightener on my face (Murad) and always wipe the excess into the backs of my hands. Since I started before dark spots showed up on my hands, they have yet to appear. Pregnancy brought them out on my face and they never left. Although the Murad does lighten them – but doesn’t eliminate them.

  43. The Christie article author seems to confuse “rich” with “high Income.” While this is a common confusion, we know, e.g., from “The Millionaire Next Door,” that people with high income are not necessarily rich.

    However, I do see a benefit to this confusion. It makes it more likely that attempts to “tax the rich” will actually try to tax those with high income instead, which seems to be less likely to punish accumulation of wealth through spending less than earnings.

  44. For a cheapie solution to dark spots, mix 1/4 tsp lemon juice and 1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar and wipe on your face like a toner before bed. This has made quite a difference with mine. You can also get them lasered off at the dermatologist (probably worth it if it’s on your face).

  45. Sorry I missed yesterday and most of today. I like the comment that it’s hard to distinguish the $ from the age, because they do seem to go together. The age and some of the bad shit — I’m sorry, “valuable life lessons” — that goes with it has given me a much better sense of what matters to me, and the financial security gives me the freedom to act on those inclinations.

    Also agree with the confidence. Part of that is the “better sense of what I care about” that means I don’t care so much about where I am on the social totem pole. But part of it also has to be that I am higher on the social totem pole now and so have less to worry about. And I have also learned better how to figure things out — the early years were so periodically difficult because I knew I wasn’t really accepted but couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong or pick up on the cues. Now I have many more skills in reading and managing people, which helps give me more confidence, because I generally know where I stand and can navigate many of those situations successfully. And then when I don’t, I fall back to item 1, because it really doesn’t matter that much in the end.

    The part that sucks is the metabolism. It’s pretty clear that my “standard” calorie intake is about 250 calories/day above what I need. So it’s either work out like a dog, be hungry all the tIme, or get fat again. Totally sucks: I finally have the financial stability to enjoy great food and wine, and my metabolism and health won’t let me!!

  46. For all of you who think you look old or fat just think that in 10 years time, you will look back at a photo of yourself now and think “Oh my god, I was so young! What was I ever complaining about?” Laura, my metabolism is crap too. I have decided to cut back on the workouts and do moderation in everything, including the exercise. I am hiking with my dogs, I am doing tons of things around the yard and just making sure to move and use my body in a meaningful way every day. So far, I actually feel better, but I think some of that is just being outside more but still I think I’m done with “killing it” at the gym every day – doesn’t make a big enough difference in my waistline to warrant it and it doesn’t feed my soul the way a hike does.

  47. I don’t think I’ve hit “a certain age” yet, but I had a serious accident and year-long recovery in the last couple of years that totally changed my perspective. I’m with Moxie on doing more activity, and outside getting daylight, but less “killing it” at the gym. I’m active and I feel good for doing it. I suppose for now I’ve given up on vanity pounds. Not being able to do many things for an extended period of time just left me grateful that I am capable and strong and can do the things I want/need to do.

    On the skin notes, I’ve always done daily sunscreen for my face, neck, and the backs of my hands. I’m starting to see the payoff for that now when I look around at peers. I’m average, and cute enough, but like WCE, I am in a better position relative to the bar as years go by.

  48. LfB, it’s age/finding your place and not money, in case you want my opinion. My 78 year old uncle is/was president of the grain elevator and the cemetery board. He and my aunt have had a low income for much of their lives- they probably qualified for free/reduced price lunches. Being part of a community and being surrounded by extended family gives richness to life. All of their kids are happily married and self-supporting. I suspect they’re preparing for a round of grandchild weddings starting in the next year or so.

  49. Fred, I wish I could invite you over for roasted yams, low fat sausage, carbmaster yogurt and cauliflower soup, which is what I’ve eaten today. Baby WCE has nearly doubled her birth weight and the fat rolls on her thighs are cute, but I don’t need to join her.

  50. @WCE – I’m sure you’re right for most people. For me, though, having spent most of my life determined never to be poor again, the realization that I have basically achieved that goal barring global utter meltdown has had a very noticeable effect on my “fu” threshold. I feel kinda like the mom in “Everybody Hates Chris”: “I don’t need this job, my man works TWO jobs.” (Change reason, same concept).

    @Moxie: I’m pretty close to where you are. Just don’t care enough to huddle at the gym and grunt it out. Running or walking outside is the best thing. It’s just difficult to do enough of it to keep the weight off. (She says, wrapping up her airport gelato. . .).

  51. Oh yes, the slowing metabolism is a huge weight (pun intended) on me. I was lazy and let an extra 15 pounds creep up on me over the last 5 years, and it is extremely hard to lose. When I was 25 I could diet for a week and see definite results – but no more. As others have mentioned, you just can’t eat the normal diet you used to. I am trying to get my husband to understand that I can’t eat three full meals a day and not gain weight – 2 meals and a small snack are really all I need.

    I’ve stayed out of the sun since I was 24 and I moved to an apartment with a shaded pool – I couldn’t “lay out” any longer on the weekends. However, just in the last 6 months I’ve started noticing that bit of loose, wrinkled skin at the front of my neck – I HATE IT!

  52. LfB, that has to be wonderful and very freeing. My uncle inherited enough money to be “as rich as he ever aspired to be” and he and my aunt (who is nearly deaf and has been somewhat crippled by rheumatoid arthritis for a couple decades) are going south each winter and buying the expensive hearing aids…their version of financial freedom.

  53. Regarding choosing between face and ass: I’m still quite petite, so I would totally be willing to gain a few pounds if doing so would fill out my face a little. My face is long and angular to begin with, and aging does not look good on a face like that. But when I gain weight, none of it goes to my face cheeks; 100% of it goes to my butt cheeks. So I guess I’ve decided that my face is sort of a lost cause, so I’ll focus on trying to keep the butt at a reasonable size.

    Totally agree with others about the peace that comes with slowing down and with not caring about nonsense any more. So far, I haven’t found aging to be all that bad. (But talk to me in a couple of years when I hit the big 5-0 — I might be singing a different tune at that point.)

  54. I’ve been stressing to my kids that they should put sunscreen on the backs of their hands. I think that’s one place they often overlook.

  55. I’ve just finished sequestering myself for three weeks because of a skin cancer treatment that left me looking like a leper. (But bonus- got to work from home!!!) My kids are getting the Ghosts of Christmas Future version of what happens when you ignore the need for sunscreen. I will be back to normal in a couple more days, but not having used sunscreen more is a regret of mine. I don’t think it’s a mistake they will make. The backs of my hands show my age, too.

    And yes, I think the over-the-top promposal is a thing now.

  56. My niece has been the recipient of an over-the-top promposal for the last couple of years now, for what that’s worth. (Poor guy, she likes him “as a friend” and he likes her without the qualifier. Hence the promposals, studying up on topics that interest her, and other efforts to impress her. So going to prom with him is just dragging out the process of breaking his heart.)

  57. SWVM – take care of yourself. You will get past this phase. Try something new, it will give you something to look forward to.

  58. Honolulu– Oh, that’s sad. There are some parts of being a teen I wouldn’t want to relive for anything in the world….

    Cosmo led to much parental angst way back when. That’s certainly not a new objection. The rest of that list is pretty hilarious. We all know kids rush to mimic grandma, right?

  59. Ok, and I do feel the need to clarify that it’s what DH says: “I need A job. I don’t need THIS job.” :-)

    The other thing I omitted is that it’s not just “freedom from,” it’s “freedom to.” Part of the “older” bit is the realization that life goes whizzing by, and that if I don’t make the time for things I do value, I’m gonna miss it — and that’s on me. Which is not just “carpe diem”/blow off school and sing in a parade — it’s also finding the discipline to do hard stuff that moves me toward my long-term goals, even when my lazy butt just wants to carpe me some clicker.

  60. I hope to follow in my grandparents’ footsteps. They are 90 and still in incredibly good health. Still living independently, and until very recently keeping up two homes and doing all of the yard work, boat maintenance, etc. themselves. They traveled the world until just a few years ago- visiting every continent in their 70s and 80s. The hardest thing for them has been that they were always very social, and everyone else in their tight-knit circle of friends they had for decades has died or become completely debilitated. They try to put on a brave face but I know it’s been a huge struggle for them in recent years to go through that.

    It’s ironic that they don’t look stereotypically “healthy.” They’re both definitely overweight, probably technically obese. They enjoy rich foods and a cocktail or two daily. But they are very active through yard work and walking the dog despite not being gym-goers, so perhaps they’re an elderly example of the “healthy at every size” movement. They swear that their habit of daily crossword puzzles and community involvement has been their secret to successful aging.

  61. I would like to make a gentle recommendation for the “It starts with food” Whole30 program. (Its a 30 day committment to a certain kind of very restrictive paleo, fairly low-carb though not ketotic) I did it last fall and really felt like it changed my hunger cues and really improved my metabolism – I am hungry when I don’t eat for 5-6 hours, instead of hungry 2 hours after a bowl of oatmeal. I really did get better sleep and energy and all that jazz. I lost a dozen pounds. While my eating habits have crept back into the land of terrible, the weight has stayed off. I am planning on doing another 30 day reset after the big move.

  62. I hope promosals go away by the time my kids reach high school. Now, every project has Mom involved even if it is getting poster board from the store, I hope I won’t have to be roped in. I imagine having to order a zillion roses.

  63. I think that after keeping most of one’s wits, being partnered really keeps an elderly person going for a long time. Sometimes it is two elderly sisters, but a welcome spouse/companion is the best tonic of all. That is one of the reasons that hope triumphed over experience in my case.

  64. SWVA – I agree with the others. There are stages in life. In some stages, we can focus on weight/exercise. In other stages, we have to just get through, and to do that well, I think we have to be kind to ourselves. This is your stage now, I think.

  65. “And Moxie, “in 10 years you’ll look even worse!!” isn’t cheering me up.”

    Lol – Rocky can make lemons out of any lemonade.

    Rio – my grandmother’s assisted living had a social room or something off the dining room where residents were invited to hang pictures of themselves when they were younger. I was looking at them all one day and had this thought that, collectively, this had been a particularly good-looking group. Perhaps the war rationing and other factors of the 1940s kept everyone trim.

    My older brother told me recently that the past five years–our age difference–have been rough on him, so watch out.

  66. Having a close knit group of family and friends around you is the best thing in old age. Or any age for that matter. I am trying to to keep that in mind while building and maintaining relationships. I see how happy my parents and uncles and aunts are to be living close enough to meet everyday if needed. After a.certain point, looks have stopped mattering to them.
    personally, I am vain and have taken a beating to my ego due to ton of weight gain because of my hormones. Soon I will be seeing a doctor nutritionist with a more holistic approach. I will also start a diet similar to Whole 30 with him. Everything used to be so easy in 20s.

    After much procrastination, I have started oil pulling. It’s only been a 3 days, but it’s not as bad I thought it would be. I just do it when I am going to be busy working,so the time goes fast. I would not recommend doing that activity by itself. Time.will move really slowly then.

  67. “Having a close knit group of family and friends around you is the best thing in old age. ”

    And that is why family is important. As an uncle once told me, “don’t get too old, because if you do, all your friends will die before you.”

    A few years ago, I had a chance encounter with a friend of my dad’s from when I was a small kid. He’s currently living with his granddaughter and her husband, and they were really glad to hear my dad was still alive, because he’s outlived nearly all of his friends and family of his age group. We were able to get them together one afternoon, and they really enjoyed that.

  68. Finn- yep! We thought it was a joke at first when they announced the trip but they loved it. They said seeing penguins was the coolest thing.

  69. Rio, I liked your post with the mirror pictures and if you’re still on, hopefully this makes you smile.
    What I say: “We are but dust…”
    What my six year old twins hear: “We are butt dust…”

  70. Ada – I really want to do a Whole 30 but the no alcohol is what makes me never start it. There seems to always be some social thing coming up with people I don’t know well enough to be the weird food/no alcohol lady. I do paleo during the week (and mostly no alcohol) but am less stringent on weekends. Maybe in June…

  71. Completely off-topic — I ran into a neighbor whose son is graduating with honors from the local high school. The boy has a weighted GPA above 4.2 on a 4.0 scale, and will be going to an out of state State U in the fall. He wanted to take a couple of courses at the local community college to get them out of the way, but can’t place into them. A student does not have to take the placement test with a 1070 SAT or a 23 ACT. If the placement test is needed, you have to pass at a level considered college ready. He has taken the placement test three times now and can’t qualify for the intro level math or English. This is not uncommon, I’m sure, but I can’t believe a student could graduate with honors and not be able to achieve college-ready scores. As a parent, I would be furious that the feedback I had received from the school for four years was that my child was excelling academically, but that when the child tries to move to a different environment, the feedback is that he is not well-prepared.

  72. MBT, I’ve known several community college instructors and not passing placement tests is a huge problem. I can’t believe a student wouldn’t get a passing ACT/SAT score with a 4.2 weighted GPA. I suppose that’s why I’m a fan of standardized tests, since grading standards among high schools vary so dramatically. Wow, just wow.

  73. WCE. I had so many follow up questions I wanted to ask, but the gist of the conversation was her enthusiasm for graduation, how proud she is, college plans, etc, so I didn’t want to rain on that. To earn the 4.2, he had to be taking honors or AP courses. I’d love to know if he passed AP exams. I believe the 4.2 was not enough to be top 10%, because he is going out of state. My daughter was not top 10%, but was still exempt from the placement tests, so I was not aware it was such an issue. I have heard from a couple of other people now that they funnel a lot of students into remedial courses. I can’t help but feel the high school really did him a disservice.

  74. MBT – is he one of those kids who just can’t do well on standardized tests? If not, is his high school not very academic? I think I know what area of town you live in, and I would think the schools would be good (I know your daughter did private, but can’t remember about your son).

  75. MBT- sadly I’ve heard plenty of stories like that all around the country and they make me so angry. So unfair of the teachers to just give the kids As like that when there are major problems with reading comprehension, basic math, etc. My guess is that her son was hardworking, a joy to have in class, and jumped through all the required hoops. That’s enough in many high schools for straight A’s.

    Parents need to ask the school serious questions when there are wide discrepancies between grades and standardized test scores. My guess is there were red flags with this student if you look at his scores from middle school or even before. I’d also wonder about an undiagnosed learning disability.

  76. I don’t actually know the kid other than to wave – just ran into his mother while I was out walking and made a little small talk. The school is supposed to be pretty good – it is one of the newest ones in the district and they send a relatively larger percentage of students to college. I am assuming that he just doesn’t test well. He may be a kid that does very well jumping through all the hoops, doing extra credit, etc. I just don’t know. It also surprises me that a 4.2/4.0 is not enough to be top 10% – that implies a great deal of grade inflation, in my opinion, but again I don’t know enough to know. I really wanted to ask a lot more, but I hardly know this woman. I have a friend in a nearby town with poorly ranked schools whose son is top 10% (but not high enough for UT cutoff) whose SAT scores (M/CR) were 1060. There is apparently a lot of variation among schools.

  77. There is actually an incredibly similar situation with a young relative of mine, in a wealthy New England school district.

  78. Even InMyDay you had to have 1200 combined SAT for U. of California guaranteed admission.

  79. Irrelevant tangent: Scotch now packages Superglue in a small bottle with a brush similar to fingernail polish. I really like it- it’s easier to reuse and the brush is nice for spreading a thin coat over large areas.

  80. @wce – irrelevant but awesome. I guess I use a lot of superglue.

    Related to the tangent, my oldest snowflake (as I shared on here recently) just tested into the gifted and talented program in our district. What I find fascinating is that she is probably 50%ile or lower in her performance in reading and math at school. She is learning, but reading is still a slog. Her report card is filled with “meets expectations” but rarely exceeding them. She doesn’t have any behavioral issues that I am aware of (and I think the teacher would tell me).

    So anyway, I have been pondering lately exactly what are these tests measuring, and why does it appear to have so little to do with school success (at least at the cut and paste stage). I also would like to help her avoid being the NMSF with the 3.2 gpa, whose options are limited by school performance issues.

  81. Ada, my DS1 has high aptitude and “meets expectations” as well. In our district, part of the situation is that they only test what is taught- the test does not ask whether your child is capable of more than what is on the test, so the teacher doesn’t know whether your child can exceed expectations.

    For us, the other part is that there are no reading groups and math is focused on writing about how you get your answer, not about math concepts. So the interesting math things DS1 has done lately (discover that the powers of 2 have the ones digit repeat in the pattern 2, 4, 8, 6 indefinitely and discover that for all two digit numbers, if a number is divisible by three, its reverse is also divisible by three) have no relation to what is being taught in school (number sentences for addition and subtraction)

  82. I don’t know why but I just loathe the phrase “number sentence” (which is what they’re called in the Seattle School District). Why can’t they just use the term “equation?”

    Ada – DS tested into Seattle’s G&T program. He was a “meets expectations” kid in his first school and now he’s a “meets expectations” kid in the G&T school which works 2 grade levels above the standard curriculum for Seattle schools. I think DS will always be middle of the pack for whatever group he’s in – so I figured I might as well get him into a higher achieving group.

  83. WCE – I thought you were talking about a new type of container for Scotch whiskey! Something small like a tube of superglue or a bottle of nail polish!

  84. WCE – It was late and I thought you were using superglue as nail polish – like a new nail gel or something.

  85. Like Rio, I’m not surprised to hear about the honor student with low SAT scores. A 1550 SAT or 23 ACT are considered minimum scores to indicate college readiness.  Yes, some students are not good test-takers, but that doesn’t account for most IMO.  I’ve seen parents blindsided by their schools’ inflationary grading, only to find their kids unable to handle college without significant remediation.  There are plenty of colleges willing to accept students with low SAT scores; it usually means graduation will take 5-6 years instead of 4.  Hey, more tuition revenue for them.

    “son is top 10% (but not high enough for UT cutoff)”

    What does this mean?  Does UT have a higher cutoff?  Didn’t they all change to 8%?

  86. The 1550 SAT college readiness benchmark is for all three sections, and I’m assuming the 1070 cutoff mentioned above is for CR & Math sections.

  87. Ada,

    The most obvious explanation would be that she has a mind learning disability like dyslexia. That would explain the high IQ but low reading scores.

  88. UT is 7 or 8% for automatic admission, while the rest of the schools in the state are 10% plus some other combination. For example, at A&M, if you are top 25% and score a 1300 on SAT math and critical reading or a 30 ACT, you also qualify for auto admit.

  89. Rhett, my daughter with dyslexia has the opposite results. Her SAT scores were higher than her grades would lead you to expect. That helps with admission in some states, but not too much in Texas.

  90. My guess is that her son was hardworking, a joy to have in class, and jumped through all the required hoops.

    Then is the grade accurate? The assumption seems to be that his low intellectual ability will eventually catch up to him. But, will it?

    I could certainly see a hard working pleasant hoop jumper going quite far in corporate America despite a (relatively) modest intellect.

  91. CoC, thanks for the clarification at 8:58. I was thinking, “you have to get ABOVE 770 on BOTH math and verbal just to get in? Damn!”

  92. Her SAT scores were higher than her grades would lead you to expect.

    Being dyslexic, I would expect her SAT scores to be higher than her grades.

  93. MBT, I’m curious about your friend’s thinking in choosing an out-of-state State U instead of one in Texas. Specifically, if a HS graduate doesn’t make the cut for automatic admission, what are his realistic options for an affordable state college? Is community college the most realistic? But if a family can afford it, are there some go-to OOS schools (public or private) that many Texans choose?

    It seems that Texas is like some other states (possibly CA & PA, for example) that doesn’t offer many good affordable options for mid-level students.

  94. Texas students with good test scores can get accepted at flagship state schools in neighboring states. In state, there are plenty of schools available, and students are employable with degrees from these schools. For some students, they would prefer to go to a flagship school and select an out of state school. For example, OU is less than a four hour drive for Dallas students, so they pick up a lot of Texas kids. Louisiana State and Alabama also get Texas kids.

    Rhett, I agree that the boy will likely be successful as an adult. My point was just my complete surprise that a student can graduate from a good high school with a 4.2 and not be allowed into English 1 in the local community college. As a parent, I would be really mad.

  95. Rhett — the thought has crossed my mind. However, she is in kindergarten. I am perhaps conflating my own experience with what is normal, but I didn’t read in kindergarten (though I didn’t have the level of expectations or instructions she has had). I didn’t really begin to read well until second grade. So, I think something hasn’t clicked in her head yet.

    Someone (MBT?) mentioned the other day qualifying for their school’s GT program and attributed it to growing up in a home that really pushed reading and also being an early reader, as well as heavy ‘enrichment’ by the parents at an early age. These things don’t really apply to us – we are below totebag average in terms of gymboree, kumon and preschool music classes.

    I am not particularly worried about her – just wondering what exactly these tests (the cognitive ability/SAT/IQ) are measuring that has so little overlap with school performance.

  96. As a parent, I would be really mad.

    So, you’d prefer he wasn’t graded on agreeableness, work ethic and hoop jumping but on mastery of the material and thus given a C? I doubt you’d think that if he was you child.

  97. My favorite family test story – youngest entered school in a double immersion Sp-Eng bilingual program 50-50 Anglo/Hispanic. Through kindergarten and first grade it was as 50-50 instruction, although the playground was primarily English – it was a special program with an application so the native speakers of Spanish were those who were able to navigate the system and often the kids had been to some sort of English language preschool. After two years my kid could get by in Spanish (they taught them to read first in Spanish, because it is more straightforward), but he was not at all fluent. No one in the house knew any Spanish – for that he was on his own. He scored the highest score in the city on the Spanish language Grade 1 standardized test, and he was not redshirted or anything. He was in OT for handwriting and fine motor. There is no greater evidence in my family’s life that test taking is a separate skill – you can drill kids on vocabulary, expose them to more books and enrichment, get them into a prep course to raise the score a bit, leverage the Affluence interpretation of the A in SAT, but some people just have the knack of being able to see at once both the forest and the trees and figure out how to find the expected answer quickly. That can translate into a different sort of workplace advantage than being socially adept.

  98. MBT & Meme,

    The other explanation could be that the kid has poor long term recall. I’ll use a vocabulary test as an example. The kid studies 10 words Thursday night and then takes the test Friday morning and gets a 100. But, if you ask him again the following Friday most of them will have been forgotten.

  99. Meme, I share your opinion that finding patterns- the skill I think makes people good at those kinds of tests- is a somewhat innate skill. In Oregon, the top scorers on tests are often the children of integrated circuit development engineers. Integrated circuit development rewards the ability to find root cause of a problem when root cause is constantly changing- you have to figure out which of several hundred variables is not in its optimal range. It’s one of the few professions where having +4 sigma of “pattern finding skill” clearly makes you better than having +2 sigma of “pattern finding skill”. In other challenging professions (law, medicine), people skills become more important than pattern finding skill long before you hit +3 sigma.

  100. Rhett, I agree completely on the long-term recall, and that would impact the ACT score which tests more of what has been learned than aptitude. I’ve looked into the placement test more, and it requires the student to write an essay, which is something my son does not excel at in a timed setting, so I understand that. On your previous comment, I actually prefer my kids to be graded on mastery for math, English and science. A complaint I had about my son’s English teacher from first semester is that these major writing assignments have just a grade and no feedback. There is no learning there. My son’s math grade is lower than it should be because he refuses to show any work if he thinks he can do it in his head. The grade reflects that he is not always as good at doing it all in his head as he thinks he is. His homework scores are near 100, but his test scores bring him down. That is feedback that he needs.

    On the subject of college acceptance here for the non-top 10%, there are very clearly defined paths to transfer from community college or other colleges in the “network” (UT-San Antonio or A&M-Corpus Christie) It is not for every major (not petroleum engineering or a few other high demand majors), but for students who choose that transfer path, if they meet the transfer requirements they are admitted without the stress of the typical application process. There is no holistic review, just a check to make sure you followed the checklist.

    So Rhett I agree that there is a path to a successful adult career. I still think I would be mad that my child couldn’t do English 1 with those grades. But I’m probably in a different place about GPA than many parents. I had to get over myself and my focus on grades years ago given my kids’ academic challenges. I would have destroyed their sense of self and my relationship with both if I had stayed on my initial path. I am satisfied with good-enough grades and them having a strong sense of their strengths and weaknesses, and the knowledge that life is long and opportunities abound after high school. My dyslexic child who would never read for pleasure even 18 months ago is now not only reading, but is writing short stories and getting enough positive feedback that she is going to enter a competition. Without truthful feedback on her work in high school, she would not have improved.

  101. Meme, I love that story, and agree completely that being a good test taker is a skill that is just intuitive to some.

  102. Chiming in late…
    High GPA + not so stellar SAT = not college ready.
    It is certainly possible that this student doesn’t test well, but far more likely that he is not college ready. This is the reality of my life. Lots of students who were certified by their HS (public or Catholic) as being college-ready, who are not at all prepared to take college courses. So we shove ’em into remedial courses (only, we don’t dare call them remedial because we charge a hefty tuition and mom and dad don’t want to hear that term) and try to paper over their deficiencies.

  103. I still think I would be mad that my child couldn’t do English 1 with those grades.

    I agree. I would much rather my kids get Bs and Cs so they know what they need to work on. If a kid can get a 4.2 and isn’t able to get a 1070 on the SAT, the school is not doing its job. Either there is gross grade inflation or they aren’t teaching the right material.

  104. Ths is why I am so frustrated by the whole opt-out thing here in NY. While a lot of it is being driven by teacher opposition to Cuomo’s teacher evaluation plan (and I do agree with them on that point), on the parental side the complaint is that Common Core is too hard, that their kids aren’t having fun in school, and that the art projects are gone. The demographics of the optout movement are really interesting – largely, parents in the poor districts and in the highest performing districts are not opting out. It is a movement of middle tier school districts.

    And that is the problem. It doesn’t matter if it is Common Core or any other curriculum reform – if you try to make standards higher, middle class parents are going to rebel. They don’t want higher standards. They would rather have their kids get a 4.2 GPA even if it means remedial classes in college.

  105. I would much rather my kids get Bs and Cs so they know what they need to work on.

    Presumably, someone with a 920 SAT score who is getting a 4.2 is working as hard as they can. I don’t know that there is a lot more that can be done.

  106. From my observation, children (and parents) don’t realize that an average child has to study and put in an effort to know the material. I have battled DS constantly on this point. The material is not hard – what he needs is to put in more effort. The difference between an A and B is fifteen minutes.
    To Mooshi’s point – a few parents I’ve talked to, think their kids are doing too much work etc. I don’t believe this. It is the expectation that somehow magically the child will recall everything their teacher said in class, plus what they wrote down over the few days in their notebooks without any review and score a 100 at test time.

  107. But Rhett, if that 920 SAT kid was getting a 2.9 for the whole time in high school, then the parents have plenty of time to realize that maybe college isn’t the right path, or maybe he should start at community college and let’s see how it goes. The mom actually didn’t seem the least bit concerned that he’s not college ready. She mentioned the trouble with the placement test with an eye roll and the statement that she told him to forget it, he’ll just take what he needs to take in the fall. (I have no idea if the university he is going to will require a similar placement test.) It’s the surprise here at the end of the road that would make me so annoyed.

  108. then the parents have plenty of time to realize that maybe college isn’t the right path,

    Have we established that college isn’t the right path? With his work ethic and pleasant nature are you sure he couldn’t pass as an accounting major at East Texas State College and go on to long and comfortable career in the internal auditing department of Exxon Mobil?

  109. Assuming of course that he really does have a work ethic and pleasant nature. Maybe he has accommodations and parents who appeal every B- to the administration.

  110. Also, Rhett, were you deliberately suggesting that Exxon Mobil would prefer complaisant and not terribly observant internal auditors?

  111. HM,

    Not terribly observant? He got the 4.2 despite a modest intellect because he’s very good and ensuring the proverbial new cover sheets were firmly attached to the TPS reports. Making sure all the paperwork is in order is his strong suit. He’s exactly what they are looking for.

  112. Well, as an accountant, I’d like to think it takes more to pass the CPA exam than a pleasant nature, but that’s my own bias. But sure, there are plenty of jobs he can do, many of which probably should not require a degree. Sales may be a great career – he’s seemed to be a very outgoing, clean cut, charming young man the few times he’s brought over our mail or stopped to chat on the street. So no, we have no proof that college is not the right path for him, but the fact that he can’t place into English 1 or whatever the base math class is seems to be a red flag. But I have no idea the level of rigor that the school he selected, or failing that, Directional State U, requires in those classes, so maybe he’ll be fine.

  113. I’d like to think it takes more to pass the CPA exam than a pleasant nature, but that’s my own bias.

    I believe we’ve gone over the strong work ethic and decent short term memory. I also happen to know for a fact that even at a senior level a successful career in corporate accounting doesn’t require passing the CPA exam.

  114. MBT,

    The most senior accounting executive at Exxon Mobil seems to be David S. Rosenthal a U of Georigia business major (the horror). A quick googling seems to indicate he isn’t a CPA.

  115. Rhett – that’s interesting. I wonder if, along with all of the other over-credentialing, or due to Sarbanes Oxley, we are seeing an increase in the CPA being a requirement for accounting positions. Or, it could be selection bias on my part because of my background in public accounting, so all of my coworkers were CPAs. I know that up my management chain they are primarily former Big 6, but I don’t know about my colleagues, and I just googled our CFO’s bio and she is not a CPA. I see CPA as a requirement on a lot of our org’s job postings, but I don’t know how often they waive that.

  116. Rhett, I’m laughing because my accounting friend whom I couldn’t get through the GMAT math has interviews for accounting with the state (internal auditing!) and the local university this week. Her “detail-oriented” nature made someone suggest the internal auditing post.

  117. WCE,

    You laugh as if it’s funny that she’d be good at that job. She may very well excel in that role.

  118. Coming back to MBT’s friend’s son, if he can’t place into the intro English and math classes, he should consider taking the remedial English and math classes this summer, and save his parent the cost of those classes at out of state rates. Whether or not his credits transfer is probably irrelevant.

  119. “It seems that Texas is like some other states (possibly CA & PA, for example) that doesn’t offer many good affordable options for mid-level students.”

    Aren’t the CA state universities (e.g., San Jose State, Sac State, Fresno State, CSUN), supposed fill that niche for CA students?

  120. “I share your opinion that finding patterns- the skill I think makes people good at those kinds of tests- is a somewhat innate skill.”
    “I love that story, and agree completely that being a good test taker is a skill that is just intuitive to some.”

    I disagree to a certain extent.

    My brother, who did very well on tests, especially multiple-guess tests (e.g., as a HS freshman, he was able to have the best score in a school-wide math test, despite not having yet taken geometry, beating all the seniors in pre-calc), explained to me how he approached those tests. The most important thing is to understand how the test is scored, and thus when to guess, when not to guess, and how to allocate time (e.g., don’t spend a lot of time on a single problem, only to not finish because you run out of time). That doesn’t seem especially innate or intuitive; it just takes a logical approach and a basic understanding of probability.

    I’ve never taken an SAT prep class, and neither have my kids, so I don’t know what’s taught there, but I’m guessing that those same things that my brother figured out on his own, by taking a logical approach, are among what’s taught in those classes, tailored specifically to the SAT. The fact that prep classes do help improve scores is likely due in part to these skills being teachable, as opposed to innate.

    I’ll also guess that a significant number of kids who take prep classes and learn those approaches to the SAT don’t extrapolate those to other tests they take.

    Side note on the new SAT– it is claimed to have eliminated the ‘penalty on guessing.’ IMO, that’s inaccurate– the current test is, probalistically, guessing-neutral, but the new test will penalize not guessing. This change thus makes test prep even more important.

  121. “Integrated circuit development rewards the ability to find root cause of a problem when root cause is constantly changing- you have to figure out which of several hundred variables is not in its optimal range.”

    Process engineering also rewards that.

  122. “From my observation, children (and parents) don’t realize that an average child has to study and put in an effort to know the material….. It is the expectation that somehow magically the child will recall everything their teacher said in class, plus what they wrote down over the few days in their notebooks without any review and score a 100 at test time.”

    This is in line with something I posted recently about the purported difference between the US and Asian approaches, and why Asian kids do better, especially at math, than US kids. The supposed Asian approach is that all kids can do math, and any kids having a hard time with it just need to put in the appropriate level of effort, while the US approach is more likely to label a kid as poor at math if he/she has a hard time and not try to have the kid work through his/her difficulties.

  123. No, I’m laughing because you pegged internal auditing as a good role for a detail person and you were apparently right. I don’t know anything about internal auditing.

  124. Finn, you’re right about integrated circuit development and process engineering both rewarding those skills. What I find challenging about integrated circuit process engineering is that there are so MANY things that can go wrong because the process is so complex. Large equipment manufacturing and silicone rubber processes had fewer things that could go wrong. I think it makes integrated circuit process engineering more interesting than, say, my other local alternative of toilet paper process engineering.

  125. “Aren’t the CA state universities (e.g., San Jose State, Sac State, Fresno State, CSUN), supposed fill that niche for CA students?”

    Yes, that’s correct. However, I was thinking of the problems I’ve read about the waitlists for basic courses in many of these schools that increases costs and time in college.

  126. “Presumably, someone with a 920 SAT score who is getting a 4.2 is working as hard as they can. I don’t know that there is a lot more that can be done.”

    You’re discounting the very real possibility that the student was a victim of lousy instruction. A steady stream of lightweight reading assignments, missing instruction in grammar, fluff math, etc., combined with inflationary grading leaves many students ill-equipped to perform well on the SAT and in college. Sadly, in many cases educators have convinced parents that it’s the kids’ fault while absolving themselves of blame.

  127. In my area, some of the parents I have talked to have kids who are “doing well at school” but like MBT described they are doing poorly on the End of Grade Tests. This starts from the third grade on. The parents always blame the test but from what I gather, the kids have ample practice, know the format, gone through the material. Anyway, after all this, the parents fight the teacher on the test results, don’t want any extra classes offered in the summer and the kid goes on to the next year. It is not surprising that this continues till end of school and beyond.

  128. You’re discounting the very real possibility that the student was a victim of lousy instruction. A steady stream of lightweight reading assignments, missing instruction in grammar, fluff math, etc., combined with inflationary grading leaves many students ill-equipped to perform well on the SAT and in college. Sadly, in many cases educators have convinced parents that it’s the kids’ fault while absolving themselves of blame.

    Yes, this. The kid can be working as hard as they can, but if the material isn’t what it should be, then it doesn’t matter how hard the kid is working. And just because they have a 4.2 doesn’t mean they are working as hard as they can. They could be coasting through classes that aren’t challenging them. I had over a 4.0 in HS and I sure as heck wasn’t working anywhere near as hard as I could.

  129. Back on the original topic of aging, after reviewing the comments, I would just say the following.

    Most of this group is at some point in the phase – OMG, I have to wear make-up, dye my hair, lower my heels, give up more extensive sporting activities and I can’t eat or drink as I did when I was younger. But there is a next phase – I don’t have to wear make up, dye my hair. I get to wear comfortable shoes all the time, and take leisurely walks instead of jamming intense routine into a packed day, make real food slowly at home, or go out to eat at any convenient time of day, or skip a meal because there are no ravenous teenagers to feed anymore. And if I have too much to drink, there is no boss the next day.

  130. ill-equipped to perform well on the SAT

    Well, the median SAT score seems to be 1010 for the reading and math portions. Half the students that took the test scored below 1010. You can’t always assume that average performance means that someone (student, teacher, etc.) did something wrong. Maybe the kid who got a 920 is just below average as half of everyone is.

  131. Meme – in interacting with my parents, I find they dislike my fast pace. I am trying to cram things like lunch, shopping etc. when I see them but they feel I am rushing them. So now, I don’t try for many things just one thing at a time and slow my pace down.

  132. With half the population being below average, what percentage of the population do you think is an appropriate match for a four year college?

  133. “But there is a next phase – I don’t have to wear make up, dye my hair. I get to wear comfortable shoes all the time, and take leisurely walks instead of jamming intense routine into a packed day, make real food slowly at home, or go out to eat at any convenient time of day, or skip a meal because there are no ravenous teenagers to feed anymore. And if I have too much to drink, there is no boss the next day.”

    This is the light at the end of the tunnel.

    Off-topic: My mom finally got The Letter from SS, after 5 months and as many requests. It says absolutely nothing: it says they have concluded they overpaid her, and it outlines how to appeal, but still doesn’t say anything about WHY they concluded that! So at least she can get the appeal going — and in the interim, she managed to find a bunch of old documents that showed when he elected to transfer over to the “both SS and pension” option and his old W-2s that showed the SS taxes he paid and all that. But I am still flabbergasted that they can get away with this crap.

  134. what percentage of the population do you think is an appropriate match for a four year college?

    Depends in what things they are below average. I think a hard working diligent kid with a 920 SAT could do quite well in East Texas State College’s accounting program. Alternatively, a brilliant kid with stellar SAT scores who scores very low in conscientiousness might not be a good fit.

  135. A 920 SAT means that this kid may well have scored say 425 on the math portion. You have no idea how woeful the math skills of a kid with a 425 will be. We don’t even get very many with such low SATs, but when we do, these are people who don’t survive long. A kid with a 400 to 450 on the math portion can probably do fine in a general business program (though the verbal skills are likely pretty poor too) but not in a program that requires at least the ability to do simple arithmetic.

  136. I agree with Rhett. I have “followed” one colleague’s daughter as she graduated high school with decent but not stellar grades. She was hard working and introverted. She is taking courses towards an actuarial degree at a Directional State U. Her professors like her and she has been recommended to help them. Even if she doesn’t become an actuary, the classes she is taking will make her an attractive candidate for accounting/corporate finance/risk/compliance areas. When she graduates she won’t have difficulty getting a decent job.

  137. Meme, the thing I most look forward to in that stage is having control over my time. I am someone who needs to keep fairly busy, so it’s not that I can’t wait to get away from work, but I really long to be able to do things when I choose. As you mentioned, being able to skip meals because I don’t have to accommodate the needs or desires of others sounds delightful. Being able to start projects at the time of day that works for me if I’ve slept poorly rather than at a time dictated to me will be wonderful.

  138. A quick googling says a 920 SAT score corresponds to an IQ of 104.5. To here some of you talk you’d think 920 is one step up from a group home. A diligent and hard working kid with a slightly above average IQ will do fine both at Direction State and toiling in the bowels of corporate America.

  139. The kids we know who struggled most in high school seem to major in things like sociology, education, HR management and general business (if they are not at a flagship school, where the business college is hard to get into). This also doesn’t take into account cheating. There are a couple of kids I know through my daughter who were constantly getting caught cheating in middle and high school. One posts in her Twitter feed about her awesome boyfriend who writes all her papers for her. I’m not sure how either of them get through tests if they couldn’t even pass Texas history without cheating, but maybe they’re more highly motivated now.

  140. Louise, while your particular example may not have had stellar grades, from what I’ve seen actuarial students typically score over 90%ile in math. But yes, it’s a combination of ability and effort that makes for a successful college student. IMO, too many unprepared students are attending college.

  141. Rhett – I just looked up a kid from my class – I remember him as being nice enough but dim, got like a 1000 on his SAT and had to go to prep school for a year before he went to college. (He was an athlete) He now runs his own financial services company in NC.

  142. Rhett – hmm. Part of “dim” is relative, but at my HS, it may have been that by the time we graduated all the 29th percentile kids had dropped out? We lost about 30% of the entering class between freshman year and graduation to dropouts.

  143. I’ll just be Laura for a minute and reiterate that so much success is about motivation and believing in yourself. This weekend I met a young woman (well, she’s 30) who dropped out of college because science was required and was too hard. She’s created a 501(c)(3) to provide housing for families of undocumented immigrants who are in a detention center near her. To fund it, she asked herself, “what do I like doing?” The answer was “volleyball”, so she started a volleyball league, found a warehouse downtown to house it, charged $200 per team to join the league, and uses the profits from that to fund the family housing. They have dozens of teams now, and have several teams of Latino families who like volleyball and want to support the non-profit.

    It’s entirely possible her SATs were 1000 or lower. But that’s not all that matters in a successful life.

  144. My best friend in college had a 980 on the SAT but good grades at her crappy city high school. She worked her tail off in college, then got her MBA while working, and rose pretty high up at a Fortune 100 marketing department (VP of International Marketing). She left because of too much travel and she had small kids. She’s now the COO of a non-profit. She may not have been traditionally book smart but she had the ability and the grit to complete college coursework (which involved a lot of Econ classes).

    There was quite the push back a few years ago here when they cut the Hope Scholarship (B average = free ride at a state institution) and the scholarship wasn’t including remedial classes at college anymore for these best and brightest students.

  145. On the topic of accounting executives being CPAs, isn’t it likely that they were CPAs at one time and did not keep up their license? I know of a number of people in the financial industry who were CPAs, but they let it lapse. It is also my understanding (via DD, the CPA!) that you can’t get to the position of manager in a big 4 firm without having passed your tests. So you can work for about 4 or 5 years before you have to have that accomplishment.

    Yes, the California State schools (Chico, San Jose, etc.) are supposed to be for that second tier group, and I think they still are. CoC is correct that it is harder to get in and out in four years because of prerequisites and crowding in the basic courses that are the pathways to particular majors. This is also true at the UCs.

    Cal Poly, which I think is supposed to be the best of the Cal State Universities has become a lot harder to get into, so we will see if that trend works its way through the rest of the schools.

  146. I absolutely think you can be successful as an adult while not being the sharpest tool in the shed in high school (witness the U.S. Congressman I went to school with). A couple of guys who couldn’t get the required 17 ACT to get into a state school are now VPs. But they also didn’t have a 4.2. I’m still put off by the disconnect between “you’re graduating with honors” and “we don’t think you can handle English 1 and we won’t let you try”.

  147. “we don’t think you can handle English 1 and we won’t let you try”.

    Is it possible she meant he wasn’t able to test out of English 1?

  148. MBT,

    Without the 4.2 how would he be able to signal that he’s very diligent and hard working? I assume any admission office getting his application would see his grades and 920 SAT and know that he’s a hard worker with an IQ of 102.

  149. One of the disadvantages of the SAT is that it doesn’t consider the spatial portion of aptitude, which has huge advantages if you’re working with drawings of buildings, machines, etc. My BIL did well as a pipefitting apprentice because he is a slow and careful reader- he has periodically discovered errors in drawings for the public buildings he works on BEFORE the piping, etc. is actually installed. The SAT doesn’t reward slow, careful, extremely spatial readers but they are needed in the world. He is the antithesis of literary- his reading at home is limited to the stuff his kids bring home from school, I think.

    To my knowledge, the ASVAB has the best standardized spatial/mechanial test. I’m much weaker at spatial stuff than Mr WCE and toys like Lego or Trio or models are good for developing that ability. It’s something I think schools need to emphasize more. In my opinion, it’s at least as important as literary analysis, which my son does lots of now.

    Around 20% of adults are functionally illiterate. These are people likely to be taken advantage of in society. If I were in charge of the world, we’d worry less about small stuff like the correlation between income and SAT (hmm, you’re only 1.3 SD above average and he’s 1.2) and spend more time helping people who need it to understand arithmetic, credit card statements, 1040A forms, bus schedules, etc.

  150. No, the issue is definitely that he cannot place into English 1. He was going to have to take a remedial course first. I don’t know if the out-of-state U he is going to requires the placement testing, so that may be why they are just dropping it. As for your other question, I honestly don’t know the answer. To me, the GPA signals a readiness for challenges that he might not be prepared for, but prior to yesterday I had never given it any thought. So all of my ramblings are not particularly well thought out.

  151. No, I agree with you, MBT. The grades shouldn’t diverge so much from the test scores. If he’d had a B- average that would be more in keeping with the test scores.

  152. In fact, I think MBT’s friend’s son exemplifies the original thinking behind NCLB — it’s exactly that kind of dichotomy that led to the huge push for more and more standardized testing.

    So, basically, he’s the shanda for the goyim for anti-standardized-testers like me. :-)

  153. In general, a high GPA and mediocre SAT scores isn’t necessarily inconsistent, but what is puzzling about the case MBT cited is the over 4 GPA, suggesting that he took courses that are supposed to be challenging.

    As MBT mentioned, the obvious question raised is how he did on the AP exams, or if he even took them.

  154. “she graduated high school with decent but not stellar grades. She was hard working and introverted. She is taking courses towards an actuarial degree at a Directional State U. ”

    My understanding of the actuarial profession is that entry is predicated on passing a series of tests which are quite heavy on math, and that it is not a low bar.

    I have heard it is a good profession for introverts who are good at math. Math/statistics skills and abilities are very important, but EQ is much less important than in many other professions.

  155. “she had the ability and the grit to complete college coursework (which involved a lot of Econ classes).”

    I took several Econ classes in college, because I enjoyed the subject. I found those classes to be ridiculously easy. IOW, I don’t find completing a lot of Econ classes to be indicative of much ability or grit.

  156. I found those classes to be ridiculously easy.

    Ah, but you have a high level of intellectual ability. What is easy at 145 IQ requires a lot of grit and determination at 115.

  157. The econ classes were much easier than just about any of my other college classes, and were easier than HS geometry.

  158. Geometry was one of my favorite subjects. Proofs and probability (which came in Alg II maybe?) are the funnest math.

Comments are closed.