The 4th of July open thread

by Grace aka costofcollege

Feeling patriotic this weekend?  Or just feeling happy that you have a long weekend?  Going out or staying in?  Are you going to see a fireworks show?

Here’s your chance to hijack our discussion with anything that’s on your mind.  Some random links to get us going:

Eating ‘healthy’ food may not make you fit: Study

Take a walk for your mental health.

President Obama and Jeb Bush find common ground in their stance against adding peas to guacamole.


73 thoughts on “The 4th of July open thread

  1. It has been a stressful since my father’s passing, dealing with all the regular stuff and adding estate administration and extra support of my mother into the mix. I have also managed to put on some weight, not wholly unexpected, in the process. The past week and a half, I have started walking outside in the neighborhood each morning rather than trying to pack extra cardio in around my twice weekly group exercise class at the gym. It is usually pretty quiet when I walk and, while I listen to an audio book part of the time, I have noticed people’s yard design, what plants are growing, and what wildlife they have attracted. I am finding it easier to come back and stay focused on work and not to snack as much.

    Have a family birthday on July 4, and will use that to celebrate our other two June birthdays now that everyone is in town.

  2. It’s quiet today.

    During a particularly difficult time in my life, I started to take daily walks just as a way of coping. It was helpful in several ways — burned off stress anxiety and helped me appreciate small things I observed. And the simple act of getting out and somewhat mindlessly putting one foot in front of another served as a bit of a metaphor for how to deal with challenges. Maybe I’ll take a walk today in this beautiful weather. Tomorrow is supposed to be rainy.

  3. Oh, yesterday I enjoyed spending a few hours at a “douchey” rooftop bar. I wish Rhode had joined me because there was lots of material for juicy people watching!

  4. Unlike me, the rest of the nation has off today. For some reason, I have off on Monday. So here I am, pretty much alone in the building attempting to work and failing because even the boss is gone.

    I get to do a lot of people watching at the fireworks tonight. And I’m going to get wonderful stares (the bad parent stares) because DS is coming with us. He has proper noise-cancelling headphones, and will fall asleep with the headphones on. But people will still stare because I have a baby out after dark. The horror.

    Austin – I’m very happy for you that you’ve found this outlet. Walking is always good. I also recommend staring into the ocean. The visual equivalent of white noise.

  5. CoC – I’m up for “douchey” bars whenever… I can’t remember… are you outside NYC? If you are, the next time I’m down there, we’ll have to get together.

  6. Rhode, if you were here, people would be staring because you have noise-canceling headphones on a baby. :)

  7. Well the booms would drown out his screams of terror! And I’m pretty sure some parents will stare at me for the headphones. At least that’s better than them staring at his retainer/tape for the cleft.

  8. Rhode, we just spent the day in Bergen because we had to go to a tile store.
    Of course, we filled up on cheap gas pumped by someone else for the trip home. My favorite part of trips to NJ.

    We start the work on the three bathrooms on Tuesday. I’m excited to finally have the bathrooms enter the 21st century, but I’m not looking forward to the dust.

    We went for a really long bike ride this morning along a path that is hidden in woods just behind some major parkways in Westchester. It used to be the old putnam railway and now it’s a very accessible, easy path for bikers and runners. I really miss DD, but it’s fun to be able to take a long ride.

    I used to see lots of little babies at the fireworks because some would sleep through the noise.

  9. Rhode – Alas, no ocean closer than a 3 hour drive! But, I agree watching larger bodies of water is relaxing. People here take babies everywhere, so I think more will be the interest in the headphones.

    Lauren – We are in process of having a bathroom redone…the only thing that came out that is going back in is the mirror. Love, love, love our contractor – every day all the trash and debris goes with him and he sweeps and shop vacs the area before he leaves. The few things he leaves are nicely stored in the room and he shuts the door. He was so careful when part of the wall was open to make sure the cats didn’t go where they shouldn’t. It is taking a bit longer than we hoped, but partly due to finding some damage to the subfloor and a delay in getting the tile we wanted. I hope your experience is as positive as it can be.

  10. Austin, thanks. We’re instaliing hardwood floors in one bedroom too. I am just going to keep focusing on how great it will be at the end of the summer to have everything renovated.

  11. Lauren, just curious, will you still have use of any of the bathrooms while your reno is ongoing?

  12. “noise-canceling headphones”

    Just got off the phone with DW, who is heading for Sam’s Club. They had Bose noise-canceling headphones discounted from ~$300 to ~$240; I asked her to buy me a pair if they still have them. Like Apple products, they are rarely discounted.

  13. We needed to find some books to occupy DH during his time at the hospital. Just downloaded The Black Count, a life of Alexandre Dumas’ father. Pulitzer a couple of year ago. He likes it.

    Everything stable, but negligible improvement. They added a 13th medicine to his daily routine, one that should alleviate some of the current symptoms but cause flare ups in an unrelated condition. And he is marked cardiac diabetic diet, so his choices off the menu are very limited. I am not sneaking him in any food – I want him home soon. I have not been the most tolerant human this week, but driving back after a sweet grandchild birthday party today I started to let go of my nitpicking frustrations with the hospital and other things and almost had to pull over to have a good cry. Annoyance and excessive attention to detail have been functioning as my emotional kevlar vest.

  14. Meme, our thoughts are with you and him.

    We’re up in Breckenridge for the weekend. We found it fascinating how much stuff we brought for three days. A suitcase full of clothes, a large cooler full of food, another large bag of groceries, fold up chairs to watch the parade, the collapsable wagon to take the chairs to the parade (it also came in handy to haul everything up from the garage to the condo), two swim bags, a small cooler to take on outings, and jackets for everyone (it will be about 50 by the time the fireworks start).

  15. Wishes for a boring and uneventful hospital stay.

    With my last pregnancy (and my third with gestational diabetes), I knew that they wouldn’t let me eat right away after the c-section – for no good reason. Also, I knew from pathophysiology and experience that the body’s insulin sensitivity returns almost instantly once the placenta is out. That meant I would go from hyperglycemic to starving in about an hour. As expected, I was restricted to “ice chips” for the first hour, then advanced to water. I packed a gigantic bag of caramel corn, that I ate in secret handfuls when the nurses were out of the room (an indulgence I wasn’t allowed with the diabetes). I was terrified that I would throw up and then everyone would know just how non-compliant I had been. Luckily, I held my sugary treat down and was able to make it the 6 hours until the hospital allowed me to order off of their menu.

  16. Are non-gestionally diabetic mothers normally ravenous too? When I delivered Baby WCE, I was ravenous by the time I made it from labor and delivery to the Mother/Baby Unit. Of course, there was no food/timely meal so I ended up eating Cheerios. I thought I was ravenous because I hadn’t eaten for ~24 hours.

  17. I never had gestational diabetes, I don’t recall being particularly hungry after delivery. But, my longest labor was six hours.

  18. Meme, my thoughts and prayers are with you. May the strength and courage that has sustained you in the past be with you this weekend.

  19. Meme – Thoughts are with you. It’s a bit dated now, but my go to audio book is Bill Bryson’s Short History of Nearly Everything. I really wish he’d update it! I hope things improve.

    I understand about the medicine cocktails! We are heading to an appointment this coming Thursday…the heart meds appear to be speeding kidney failure along, but reducing the heart meds will speed heart failure along. Finding the right balance is going to be more difficult I think.

  20. My labor was induced both times, so no food after midnight. DD#1 came at almost 8 pm, DD#2 came at almost 11 pm. DD#2 was an unplanned C-section, the local made feel awful, and a planned tubal ligation. I was hungry after DD#1. It was close to 24 hours with no food. I was conked out due to meds after DD#2, but when I woke up the next morning, I was so hungry, I think I would have eaten anything they brought, as it was 32 hours since I had eaten. Not sure if it was due to the gestational diabetes, or just the number of hours since the last “meal”.

  21. Meme, thinking of you and sending lots of good thoughts your way.

    Finn – yes. The half bath on the main floor is going to be done at the end of the summer. They will start the hall bath on Tuesday
    The master bath will be started a few weeks from now. We just finished selecting the tiles and some fixtures. Everything has to be ordered. I think the master bath will take a while because we are doing a lot of work in there. The contractor hopes to have the hall bath done before he starts the master. We added a full bath in our basement when we moved into the house, so I could use that any time.

  22. Meme: I’m sending prayers of comfort and healing to you and your DH. During the time when my FIL had to have bypass surgery, had to adjust to a drug cocktail and then seemed to join the stent of the month club, I observed that it was almost as hard on my MIL as it was on him.

  23. Mémé, good luck in bearing up during this difficult time. I notice that a whole lot of the Great Courses series are now available on Audible as audiobooks, including what looks like all or most of the music courses.

    Ada, for one of mine I was still coming up from the recovery room while they were serving breakfast and they weren’t planning to serve anything more until lunchtime and I was very, very focused on getting food ASAP. As in, no matter what any medical professionals or other hospital staff wanted to talk to me about, my answer was always about wanting food. They found something to feed me. A large number of hours without eating combined with a long test of physical endurance is enough to make someone very hungry, even without throwing gestational diabetes in the mix.

  24. Rhode — yes, I’m near NYC so definitely let me know when you’re down this way.

    Meme, thinking of you and your husband.

  25. I’m torn between wanting to strangle my oldest and being proud of her. We got her ACT scores today. She got a 33, which is apparently in the 99th percentile. She is whining about wanting to do better. I have little sympathy other than telling her she can take it again and mayhap she should go to bed before midnight the night before the test. Teenagers!

  26. Meme: Best of luck to you and your DH. I hope he finds the right mix of medications and comes home soon. I really enjoyed the book “The Black Count”.

  27. Murphy: Congratulations to your daughter. If she’s still interested in genetics, either Berkeley or OSU would probably be pleased with a plant genetics undergrad researcher.

  28. Murphy: She should apply to Texas A&M, too. My friend whose son is in plant genetics got a full ride from out-of-state there and now is in grad school in the plant genetics lab at Berkeley. They’re working on an ebola vaccine, among other things.

  29. WCE, thanks for your kind words. I am pretty sure she will apply to OSU and Texas A&M. She doesn’t like the Bay Area, so Berkeley is out.

  30. Murphy, congrats on your daughter’s ACT score. That’s good enough for any college; my understanding is that an extra point or two or three will not make much of a difference in college admissions. My guess is that she understands that, but getting a better score would be a point of pride for her.

    I agree with your approach. Be proud of what she’s accomplished, and leave it up to her to properly prepare if she wants to take the test again. Knowing, from personal experience, that a good night’s sleep helps get a better test score would be invaluable in college.

    Is your DD planning to take the SAT also? DS has taken the SAT, but is wondering if he should take the ACT too.

  31. Murphy, which OSU? The one near WCE? I believe Ohio State, Oklahoma State also go by OSU, and Ohio State has the url.

  32. Murphy, my friend went to Berkeley for undergrad and OSU for her master’s. Her son went to Texas A&M and Berkeley for grad school. In her opinion, OSU or A&M (or other agriculture schools like Iowa State or Purdue or Colorado) are better than Berkeley for undergrad now. She says that due to grade inflation, essays seem to be the primary distinguishing mechanism for departmental scholarships. I hope your daughter can BS admirably.

  33. “better than Berkeley for undergrad now”

    I’ve heard that the UC system isn’t what it once was, due to budget cuts, although it’s still a good deal for in state students.

  34. ” I hope your daughter can BS admirably.”

    She can, although not nearly as well as her younger sister.

  35. Finn,

    OSU = Oregon State University

    She took the SAT, scored 2180, as always, math is her downfall.

  36. Due to advances in gene sequencing, some areas of genetics are becoming very math intensive. At least two physics majors I know took coursework in computational sequencing. She might consider if that’s a hurdle for her.

    We were thinking of the same OSU. :)

  37. Murphy, what year is your DD? I look forward to comparing notes with you (and others, e.g., Houston) on the college selection/admission process.

    My DS is a rising junior, and still does not seem to have narrowed down his choices of major yet, which thus does not allow for a narrowing of college choices based on major. His junior year goal is to narrow down his possible college choices, preferable during the first half of the year, so we can plan some campus visits next summer.

  38. Murphy, my boy got a full ride to Purdue, so you might look there. They have considerable merit money. It’s definitely a huge school, but I think the kids generally find their social groups. And boy, is it ever not-the-Bay-Area. Good science, ag, and engineering programs (land-grant university).

  39. We’re in the same boat with #3. Starting the narrowing process but he really doesn’t know what he wants to do.

  40. AustinMom and Meme, my thoughts are with you.

    WCE, I was ravenous after all three of mine. No gestational diabetes. My first demand was always a ham and cheese sandwich :)

    In other news, I’m trying to help my neighbor whose husband just died suddenly. She’s not a native speaker so the paperwork is really hard for her.

    I’ve found a few online checklists but nothing great – anyone know of any resources I should point her towards?

    What she needs is a financial planner, but I’m not one.

  41. I’d love to hear about other college journeys. DD thinks she wants genetics/biology. She just went to a chemistry camp and had a blast. Nerd. She hasn’t found a school that she is excited about. This is a different journey than my husband and I took. Our horizons were much more constrained, for various reasons.

    She is a rural libertarian intellectual. Socially liberal and fiscally conservative ag kid. And, as a California, somewhat horrified by the concept of snow that you can’t leave when you are done skiing. We just haven’t found the place for her.

  42. First time celebrating the 4th outside the USA and missing the big extended family gathering/birthday party/water ballon fight. DH had relatives in town so we at least hung out with family. No fireworks but took the visitors instead to Kensington Palace, Harrods, Portobello Market and a local chippy. I did not attend but DH said the Jack the Ripper walking tour was fabulous.

  43. Meme,

    PTM suggested that I read A Man and His Ship – it’s really good. Your husband might like it. I’ll also +1 A brief history of nearly everything, in a sunburned country is also very good.

  44. “She is a rural libertarian intellectual.”

    Except for the fiscal conservatism part, she sounds like potentially a good fit for a rural SLAC. Probably at least worth a look.

  45. I didn’t eat for 24 hours with my labor and eventual c-section, but the meds I was on (IV antibiotic & picotin plus epidural) made me so nauseous that I couldn’t keep food down for another 24 hours after DS was born. No GD, but I’m not sure that it would have mattered. On Day 3, I ate every morsel of food that the hospital would bring me! (The food wasn’t terrible – it was the big downtown research hospital with a new hospital wing for OB that was brand new at the time.)

  46. Meme – my thoughts are with you.

    We are just back from WCE’s area. Don’t want to give away too much but it was a wonderful vacation. For those with RV dreams, it is a great area to go RVing with the family.

  47. Murphy, congrats on your daughter’s ACT score! That’s really great. I wish when my kids whined it would be about only scoring 33 on their ACT! :)

    Could be a buying opportunity today … let’s see.

  48. Murphy – Congrats on the ACT scores. Understand the desire to strangle your child!

    I have a rising sophomore…would like to follow what is going on with those of you with same/slightly older kids on the college process. She took the PSAT as a freshman, the test that is going away, and scored a 201. A private company offered a free “this is what we think the new PSAT will look like”. She took it and felt like she did worse. Of course, until she takes the real PSAT in a few months, we won’t know.

    However, she has since received at least one mailing from a different college/university every week. At first she was discounting everything out of state as we have a pre-paid public 4 year in-state college plan in place (don’t before it was closed). She hasn’t picked a field of study either, but I told her not to narrow the field yet. Her pre-paid can be used elsewhere, it just doesn’t pay the “full amount” and other funding she is offered would definitely be considered in making any final choices.

  49. Talking about colleges – if I were out west and if my kid were considering majoring in anything to do with plants/animals I would consider the colleges in WCE’s area. Beautiful area, so much outdoorsy stuff to do right there, if your kid likes that kind of thing.

  50. I’m thinking of investing in ETFs for the first time. We have rolled a 401k into an IRA and ETF trades would be free with a free trades credit we received. It looks like most ETFs are very similar to index mutual funds. Does anyone have any thoughts or advice on investing in ETFs?

  51. Finn: Hope you saw my prior reviews of USNA summer camp and another university that we toured.

    We just saw SMU last week. Thanks to everyone who recommended the school! It was not previously on our radar. The tour was great. The engineering school stressed its support of the students, its high graduation rate, its lack of weed out classes, its small class size, and its theory that anyone can be an engineer. DS was less impressed than we were. It seems that he thinks that all that inclusiveness will lead to a less high caliber engineering student pool than other schools that fail out 50% of their class or that have a lower admissions rate.

    DH and I liked the school, though. Very pretty campus. Great admissions tour. We really liked that fact that engineers were encouraged to double major or minor in other subjects, in addition to engineering classes. This is not the message that we get from other engineering schools.

  52. Meme–My thoughts are with you and your DH; hopefully the food continues to be the most serious complaint.

    Re: post-labor food: I did not have GD, and spent a relatively long time pushing (~4:20) and they got me food pretty quickly. However, the fruit and cottage cheese probably wasn’t enough (and probably too high on the GI); the moment after I had been wheeled into the recovery room and handed my baby to a nurse, I fainted. Fortunately, right onto the bed and with plenty of medical help around!

    Ivy, I think I delivered at the same hospital–food was fine, and the facilities still look pretty good. When talking about discharge, DH kept saying “when we checked out of the hotel…” :)

  53. If your ETF trades are free, go for it since costs are typically lower for ETFs than for mutual funds. Yes, most ETFs are very similar to index mutual funds. Even with transaction costs, ETFs can work out to be lower in cost than MFs, depending on how often you trade.

  54. “It seems that he thinks that all that inclusiveness will lead to a less high caliber engineering student pool than other schools that fail out 50% of their class or that have a lower admissions rate.”

    You have one competitive kid there! I like the way he thinks, as long as he doesn’t stress out too much.

  55. We really liked that fact that engineers were encouraged to double major or minor in other subjects, in addition to engineering classes.

    I like this too, but won’t it take longer than 4 years to graduate ?

  56. “It seems that he thinks that all that inclusiveness will lead to a less high caliber engineering student pool than other schools that fail out 50% of their class or that have a lower admissions rate.”

    You have one competitive kid there! I like the way he thinks, as long as he doesn’t stress out too much.

    On the other hand, someone should explain the big fish/small pond theory to him and if he’s as good as he thinks he is, he’ll be able to stand out much more at a less-competitive school.

  57. “someone should explain the big fish/small pond theory ”

    Denver: We tried. We even have the Malcolm Gladwell book “David and Goliath”. It might take a while to sink in.

    Louise: I agree. Not quite sure how it works, but I like the sentiment. The only delay in graduation is typically from co-ops, where you take 6 months off to intern at a company full time.

    COC: Competitiveness is good in moderation. However, DH and I are more laid back and are sometimes uncomfortable with these types of thoughts. I try to tell him that college is for working hard AND having fun. This is the migraine kid, so we worry.

  58. Up North, I suggest you compare the returns of the ETFs you are considering against comparable no-load funds, and go with whichever has the higher return. If both hold the same stocks, e.g., you compare an S&P500 ETF against an S&P no-load fund, the difference in return will be the fee structures, and since you don’t have commissions on the ETFs.

    If the return is the same, I suggest the ETFs, since you have more trading options, e.g., limit orders.

  59. ” We really liked that fact that engineers were encouraged to double major or minor in other subjects, in addition to engineering classes.”

    WCE and I have both discussed here how difficult it is to get all necessary engineering classes in in four years, and how many engineering majors take more than 4 years to graduate, not counting terms taken off for co-ops, because of the difficulty of taking the full load required to graduate in 4 years. At my alma mater, the CoE does not have a foreign language requirement, because it was not possible to fit it in with all the engineering/math/science requirements.

    I can see minoring in math or physics, however.

    I see this as a bit of a red flag. If your DS is considering engineering there, I would suggest getting a detailed list of the graduation requirements, and compare it against the requirements at the other schools under consideration. My concern would be that their requirements are not as rigorous. Another thing to investigate, if possible, is to talk to recruiters who recruit there and can compare the readiness of their grads against grads from other schools.

  60. “My concern would be that their requirements are not as rigorous.”

    Good advice. You might be right. We will investigate.

  61. “I like this too, but won’t it take longer than 4 years to graduate ?”

    Don’t double majors typically take more than 4 years, whether or not engineering is one of the two majors?

    If the college is encouraging minors or double majors with the understanding that doing so will extend the time until graduation, or require heavier course loads, then that does not suggest their engineering programs are lacking in rigor.

    But I think it is a good idea overall to study and compare the detailed graduation requirements of all schools under serious consideration. Perhaps this study would be at one level for narrowing down choices, then at a higher level of scrutiny when deciding between colleges after receiving acceptances. I will suggest this to DS.

  62. Don’t double majors typically take more than 4 years, whether or not engineering is one of the two majors?

    Not necessarily. DSS triple-majored in math/physics/computer science. Presumably there was overlap in the class requirements, though.

  63. RMS, did he still graduate in 4 years?

    And yes, I agree that there would probably be quite a bit of overlap between math and physics, and between math and CS. It’s not obvious to me that there would be much overlap between CS and physics.

  64. RMS, congrats to your DSS. That is quite an accomplishment.

    I suppose we should remember that RMS’ DSS is not necessarily a typical student, and just because he graduated in 4 years with a triple major doesn’t mean it’s not typical for those with double majors to take more than 4 years to graduate.

    I can cite a dad I recently talked to, whose son decided to take a second major (violin performance, in addition to pre-med). He was complaining about the extra $65k the second major cost him for the 5th year necessary to complete both majors.

    OTOH, kids who double major aren’t typically your typical kids.

    And I do think it’s more difficult in engineering, due to the lack of electives. At my alma mater, the graduation requirement was something like 128 or 130 credits, which included no electives.

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