Family Movie Night

by Seattle Soccer Mom

On Friday nights, we often like to order takeout/delivery and watch a movie. Our kids are 15 and 10 so it can sometimes be a challenge to find a movie that both kids enjoy. Here are some recent movies all four of us liked.

  • Galaxy Quest with Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, and Allen Rickman. PG. Highly recommend this comedy – all of us enjoyed it.
  • My Cousin Vinnie with Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei. Rated R because close to every other word is the F word. If you don’t have a problem with frequent use of the F word, it’s a pretty funny movie. All of us enjoyed it.
  • Oceans 11 with George Clooney and Brad Pitt. PG-13. What’s not to love?
  • Groundhog Day with Bill Murray. PG. A classic.
  • Elf – we like to watch this at Christmas and let the kids invite friends over to have an Elf dinner: spaghetti with chocolate sauce, candy corn, pop tarts, etc.
  • When the kids were younger, we really enjoyed Hayao Miyazaki’s movies: Howl’s Moving Castle, Castle in the Sky, Spirited Away,….

Fellow Totebaggers – what movies or tv shows do you like to watch as a family?

The Really Big One

by WCE

The Problem:
The Cascadia subduction zone will likely experience a magnitude 8-9 earthquake off the Oregon/Washington Coast. Based on historic periods between major quakes and knowing that the last major quake was in 1700, the chance of a major quake by 2060 is estimated at 1 in 3. Coastal regions will be inundated by the resulting tsunami. Utility infrastructure, roads and bridges are expected to be severely affected.

WCE’s Commentary:
This article is kind of long, so I’ll summarize it and paste a quote for the less interested. I will also note that if your child wants to become a paleoseismologist, (s)he should consider Oregon State. I was motivated to read it in part by paying the bill for our Earthquake insurance, which is 50% of our regular homeowner’s insurance premium and has a high deductible. Another article noted that 80% of Oregonians don’t carry earthquake insurance. One author helpfully noted that the federal government will pick up the tab in the event of a disaster. A bridge/seismology expert for the State of Oregon (met her once) is concerned by the lack of interest/concern regarding the likely destruction of much of our infrastructure. A tsunami would affect the Oregon/Washington/BC Coast- I’ve included a map of the likely Oregon effect from a related article.. So this post could go in all kinds of directions. :)

From the article:

… In Oregon, it has been illegal since 1995 to build hospitals, schools, firehouses, and police stations in the inundation zone, but those which are already in it can stay, and any other new construction is permissible: energy facilities, hotels, retirement homes. In those cases, builders are required only to consult with DOGAMI about evacuation plans. “So you come in and sit down,” Ian Madin says. “And I say, ‘That’s a stupid idea.’ And you say, ‘Thanks. Now we’ve consulted.’”

These lax safety policies guarantee that many people inside the inundation zone will not get out. Twenty-two per cent of Oregon’s coastal population is sixty-five or older. Twenty-nine per cent of the state’s population is disabled, and that figure rises in many coastal counties. “We can’t save them,” Kevin Cupples says. “I’m not going to sugarcoat it and say, ‘Oh, yeah, we’ll go around and check on the elderly.’ No. We won’t.” Nor will anyone save the tourists. Washington State Park properties within the inundation zone see an average of seventeen thousand and twenty-nine guests a day. Madin estimates that up to a hundred and fifty thousand people visit Oregon’s beaches on summer weekends. “Most of them won’t have a clue as to how to evacuate,” he says. “And the beaches are the hardest place to evacuate from.”

Those who cannot get out of the inundation zone under their own power will quickly be overtaken by a greater one. A grown man is knocked over by ankle-deep water moving at 6.7 miles an hour. The tsunami will be moving more than twice that fast when it arrives. Its height will vary with the contours of the coast, from twenty feet to more than a hundred feet. It will not look like a Hokusai-style wave, rising up from the surface of the sea and breaking from above. It will look like the whole ocean, elevated, overtaking land. Nor will it be made only of water—not once it reaches the shore. It will be a five-story deluge of pickup trucks and doorframes and cinder blocks and fishing boats and utility poles and everything else that once constituted the coastal towns of the Pacific Northwest.”

The Really Big One

Schulz-The-Big-One-Map-11

Cutting The Cost Of College

by MooshiMooshi

Everyone loves to discuss the high costs of university education, and everyone seems to have an opinion as to how to get those costs down. This article looks in some depth at the effort to deal with significant funding cuts at U Wisconsin Eau Claire, which is a classic directional state U, and one with a pretty good reputation. The son of one of my best friends went there, and had a lot of good things to say.

There are some points of interest in this article. First of all, the funding cuts forced the administration to look closely at some of their processes, which really made no sense in some cases. Layers of administrative approvals to get catering? That is the kind of thing that just adds to everyone’s workload. As I have noted before, a lot of times universities end up with lots of bureaucracy, added costs, and added workload (usually dumped on faculty and lower level administrators) because there are no real chains of command. Everyone in the various administrative offices are all doing their own thing. The one-stop student services office is also a great idea. I have never understood why universities make students run from office to office to get things done. So there is a silver lining to these cuts – forcing the school to weed out and streamline offices and processes.

However, the centralized advising is a huge mistake in my opinion. And each advisor will have 300 students? In a school with a 30% 4 year graduation rate? Seriously? My department is actually trying to wrest advising away from the central advising process, largely because we think it will improve retention. The centralized advisors make so many mistakes, mistakes that actually cause students to have to spend more time here.

And of course they will end up with fewer course sections, which will also make it harder for students to get finished on time.

It is interesting that they used alums to help identify inefficiencies, instead of hiring consultants. I assume the alums were volunteering their time? That is actually a really interesting idea – instead of hitting up alums for money, ask for time instead.

Struggling to Stay True to Wisconsin’s Ideals

As usual, the comments on the article are interesting too. Do you have anything to add? How would you approach drastic cuts at a school like this if you were the president?

Are Engineers Good Marriage Material?

by Grace aka costofcollege

 10 Reasons Engineers Make Good Partners

I don’t agree with all their reasons, but some good points are made.  Let’s explore this further.

10 Reasons Engineers Make Bad Partners

10 Reasons [fill in the blank with another profession] Make Good/Bad Partners

What makes for a good or bad partner?  Any correlation with profession?

Alcohol or Marijuana?

by Seattle Soccer Mom

Dr. Aaron Carroll is a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University who also writes columns for the NY Times Upshot. In the linked article below, he sorts through the dangers of alcohol vs. marijuana for teens. Dr. Carroll argues that alcohol is a factor in 40% of violent crimes (no link for pot); there are alcohol related deaths (e.g. binge drinking deaths) but not pot related deaths; more ER visits due to alcohol than pot; alcohol is more of a danger when driving; and a higher % of users end up dependent on alcohol than on pot.

His conclusion:

When someone asks me whether I’d rather my children use pot or alcohol, after sifting through all the studies and all the data, I still say “neither.” Usually, I say it more than once. But if I’m forced to make a choice, the answer is “marijuana.”

Fellow Totebaggers, which would you rather your teen experimented with – alcohol or marijuana? (and yes, let’s assume the first choice would be “neither.”)

For me personally, since I’ve never smoked pot, I’m more comfortable with the idea of DD experimenting with alcohol. After reading the article though, I’m a little less freaked out about the idea of DD experimenting with pot (my first choice is still “neither.”)

Alcohol or Marijuana? A Pediatrician Faces the Question

Pets and More Pets

By Sky

We already have a cat, but my kids have decided we also need a dog. Luckily the pleas of the youngest are still limited to pointing at dogs and saying “woof woof” plaintively, because the other two bring it up every time we see one.

I think I have persuaded DD and DS1 to settle for some betta fish for now, but I started to wonder if I should have campaigned for a virtual pet when I started reading about tank cycling and betta sororities. I manage sibling fighting all day as it is!

What pets have you had? What low maintenance pets would you recommend? Have you had any exotic or unusual pets?

What about pet care? How much do you think is reasonable? Does your pet get holiday gifts and go on the family vacation?

And most importantly, who does the work? Are there any Totebag children who walk the dog and clean up the mess, or is it all on the parents? (I know what the answer will be in my house, so we are not getting a dog!)

Continue Ban On Gay Blood Donors?

by winemama

Should the Red Cross change its stance on blood donations from gay men in light of the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage and other recent events? Safety is the main factor, but I would think they could ensure safety without such a strict rule (male who has had sexual contact with another male, even once, since 1977). It seems like it is based on an out-of date stereotype.

Currently this is the rule:

You should not give blood if you have AIDS or have ever had a positive HIV test, or if you have done something that puts you at risk for becoming infected with HIV.

You are at risk for getting infected if you:
  • have ever used needles to take drugs, steroids, or anything not prescribed by your doctor
  • are a male who has had sexual contact with another male, even once, since 1977
  • have ever taken money, drugs or other payment for sex since 1977
  • have had sexual contact in the past 12 months with anyone described above
  • received clotting factor concentrates for a bleeding disorder such as hemophilia

Panel Recommends U.S. Keep Ban on Gay Blood Donors

Joint Statement Regarding National Gay Blood Drive

Blood Donor Eligibility: Medications & Health | American Red Cross

Home Remodeling Advice

by axs54

This post is from a long-time lurker from the TOS.  Recent discussion has prompted me to submit a post.

We have been living in our house for about 9 years and are considering doing a large addition (add master suite, expand kitchen, add mudroom, etc). Our house is a typical (for Boston suburbs) 1960’s raised ranch, which our family of four is outgrowing (it is 1,500 sq. ft.)

We are in the very initial stages of the project. We have hired an architect and he is just beginning his work on the plans. We are looking for any suggestions re: contractor management, accommodations (we would have to move out for at least one month), and any other pitfalls that Totebag readers have experienced. It seems that a decent number of regulars has gone through a significant home improvement project, so please share your wisdom!

Why Organic Agriculture is a Colossal Hoax

by WCE

The Colossal Hoax Of Organic Agriculture

I’ve mentioned before my concerns about organic agriculture and how it’s implemented. This article discusses some of the issues that affect consumers but it doesn’t discuss the production issues, such as lower yields, associated with organic agriculture. Organic produce is popular among my set in the Pacific Northwest but its proponents don’t seem particularly knowledgeable about its pros and cons, so I’ve learned to smile and nod. Is anything in this article (it’s short) new information for you? Do you share my skepticism about organic food from China or Mexico?

 

Dressing Down At The Office And Elsewhere

by Grace aka costofcollege

The trend toward more casual dressing draws mixed opinions.  I mainly like it, but sometimes it goes too far.

For the love of God, stop dressing like crap

… So while you can hold on to your crop tops and ratty band tees, you may also think twice about where and when you wear them. After all, if you dress better, you’ll feel better.

Recently while enjoying sushi at a “nice” local restaurant, I couldn’t help but notice the guys at the table next to us who were dressed like this guy, but with team logo tank tops.

20150811.TTankTop2

 

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s sometimes a bit confused about appropriate dress.  Lately my questions have been more about men’s sartorial style.

What does “business casual” actually mean at your workplace?  This seems to be common garb for the men I’ve seen lately on their way to the office.  Later when the weather turns cooler, many will add a blazer to their look.

20150809.TBusCasual3
Is the “3-day beard” look acceptable at your office?  Even if you don’t look like Ben Affleck?

20150809.T3DayStubble

And can men wear shorts everywhere these days?

Do you trend toward casual or more dressed up?  How do people dress at your workplace?  Do you care how other people dress?

Interstates

by Honolulu Mother

My husband suggested this article for a Totebag topic:

How to Fix Our Interstates

The following are his comments on it.

“I found this interesting on several levels.

First, the article is in contrast to my father’s perspective on the interstate coming to Washington state during his coming of age as a driver. His claim was that many of the planners of the initial interstate build favored ring roads around the major cities, but that the merchants of the day overrode that in pursuit of tourist dollars.

Second, having commuted the “interstate” in Hawaii for several decades, I have often found myself stuck in traffic and wondering if the whole thing would move better if we added stoplights for through traffic and merging traffic at major choke points and treated it like any other major city street. Our highway in urban Honolulu is actually grandfathered under design requirements of the 60s. As I understand it, our upgrade options are severely limited short of bringing the system into compliance with current requirements.

Third, I lean libertarian and tend to agree that if we left transportation funding and decisions at the local level we would achieve better results. Under the current system, if a local government spends ninety cents in added costs for federal compliance to receive a dollar of federal funding it counts as ten free cents.

It’s traffic, folks, I know everyone’s bound to have opinions.”

Rewards That Aren’t Raises

By AustinMom

When we first start out in our careers, it is often all about the money as parents withdraw their financial support and our paychecks must cover all of our basic needs plus our desires. However, when pay exceeds those basic needs, do we value that raise or other rewards, such as more time off?

The article below opines that workers who are taking other rewards in lieu of raises may be hurting themselves in the long run. In my opinion, the article mixes some non-monetary and monetary benefits in the same category. For example, paid health insurance – assuming you will carry health insurance, shifting the cost from the employee (automatic payroll withdrawal) to employer paid does free up cash for the employee. Others, such as time off or access to a gym membership you won’t use (due to location or desire) do not impact your paycheck.

Has your company shifted to other rewards in lieu of raises? How has it affected you? How do you see it affecting the next generation of workers (including your kids)?

Companies have found something to give their workers instead of raises

What’s for Dinner?

By Seattle Soccer Mom

I’m always on the lookout for dinner ideas that I can make in 45 minutes or so and that at least 3 of the 4 of us will eat.

Do you and your partner split the cooking or does one of you handle most of the cooking? I do most of the cooking; DH cooks once a week and makes something easy that doesn’t require a recipe. This summer, I’ve started having the kids each cook dinner once a week. DD is 15 and DS will soon be 10.

Cooking a family dinner was one of the bigger adjustments we had to make after having kids. Before kids, DH and I would often do our own thing on weeknights. I’m ok with having cereal for dinner while DH likes a hot dinner preferably including meat/fish. DD takes after DH. DS is a pickatarian. I love sauces – so I often make things where the sauce is added at the end or on the side so DS can have his plain (or uncontaminated depending on your perspective). I aim for cooking something that 3 of the 4 of us will eat.

Here are some typical dinners for my family – what does your family like to eat?

Fish –salmon, Dover sole, or halibut. Generally pan-seared with some sort of sauce (salmon with a port wine sauce; Dover sole that’s been breaded or coated in parmesan with a tarragon sauce). If we’re splurging, crab cakes from a local fish store (easy and delicious but expensive). Clams steamed in white wine. I learned to eat seafood as an adult so my repertoire is pretty limited.

Chicken/Steak – on the weekend, I often like to do some version of roast chicken thighs – easy but takes a little more time. Pan-seared chicken cutlets with a lemon white wine sauce or steak with a stone-ground mustard sauce. Panko crusted chicken thighs with egg noodles.

Pasta – favorites include pasta with a tomato-vodka cream sauce (with either prosciutto or bacon); kale bacon pasta with fresh oregano; pasta with a sausage-vermouth cream sauce.

Easy – tacos; steak salad (broiled/grilled steak on top of a bed of greens with goat cheese, tomato, avocado); spaghetti with marinara; ravioli with prosciutto, pear, and avocado as optional toppings; grilled cheese/BLT’s.

Other – chicken pot pie, lasagna – I have two easy recipes from a great cookbook called “Keepers.” For the chicken pot pie, you use puff pastry for the topping – and it includes bacon. Yum.

Where do you take your out-of-town visitors?

by Grace aka costofcollege

One Los Angeles resident wanted to offer his out-of-town visitors “authentic” local experiences as well as typical tourist attractions.

Figuring out how to provide an authentic experience that isn’t challenging for visitors who aren’t intimately familiar with this city’s quirks is a true local struggle.

I’ve faced this dilemma twice in my seven years of Angeleno-hood, and for the second time last weekend. For my parents’ most recent stay, I wanted to switch things up, focus less on tourist attractions and more on the places I find most interesting in Los Angeles.

My out-of-town visitors can check out famous local attractions like the Statue of Liberty and Broadway shows, but they can also spend a quiet afternoon at a less well-known place like Untermeyer Gardens on the Hudson River.

20150805.TUntermeyer1

What are the famous tourist attractions near you?  And what are some other “authentic experiences” that visitors to your area might enjoy?  Do you host visitors very often?  How does it usually go?

College Budgeting Fail

by ssk

I just read this online and thought it might be a starting point for a blend of two of our favorite topics: paying for college and teaching fiscal responsibility.

22-year-old college student blows her $90,000 college fund and blames her parents

While this article (and the accompanying videos) is tongue-in-cheek, it makes you wonder about how you have done (or will do) teaching your children about finances. Has anyone encountered a young person like “Kim”?

Marriage In The Real World

by Moxiemom

The Wedding Toast I’ll Never Give

Saw this in this week’s Modern Love column and felt like it really spoke to my 19 years of marriage and would be good required reading for all people considering marriage. I also found the positivity of the comments section to be a big surprise. How about you, do you think this is a realistic portrayal? Do you wish someone had told you something like this before you got married? Unmarried toters – does this make marriage more or less appealing? Discuss.

Household Appliances

by SWVA Mom

I’m getting ready to move into my new home, and fortunately it comes with all appliances except washer & dryer. The laundry room is a little tight – just a space between the garage and kitchen – so I don’t want the extra-large, super-capacity set from my current house. (And H wants to take them anyway.) Anyone have a recommendation?

I’m also very sad to be leaving my dishwasher behind. We were never happy with the one we originally selected for this house because it was too loud. So when the dishwasher in our rental property died a few years ago, we got a new one for home and had the installer take the old one to the rental. It’s a Miele, and I can actually have a phone conversation in the kitchen while it is running. The dishwasher in my new place is actually the same brand I had before but the model is one step down! I guess I’ll just have to remember to run it when I leave in the mornings or when I go to bed.

Totebaggers, what are your favorite home appliances? And let us learn from your mistakes – what about choices you have regretted?