The 90’s are back!

by wimemama

The 90’s are making a comeback in fashion, film and television.

Netflix has brought back Full House (1987-1995). Boy Meets World has a spin-off show, Girl Meets World.

There was a re-make of Total Recall and another film in the Jurassic Park franchise.

’90s Trends That Made a Comeback

Get The Look: 90s Style Icons

What 90’s influences do you see around you?

What were your favorites from the 90’s in fashion, music and entertainment?

What to Wear or Not When It’s Hot: Office Dress Codes

by Anon for This Topic

Today (mid-July), I received an email from our HR department reminding us of the office dress code policy.  I can’t post it for obvious reasons, but here is a bullet summary:

  • Employee’s appearance is a direct reflection on the level of professionalism at the organization.
  • Employees must follow the accepted standards of professional office attire.
  • Clothing or jewelry that could present a safety hazard is not permitted (although not in the policy the email goes on to say that flip flops are in this category)
  • Employee’s who do not meet with the public can wear business casual, but it cannot be inappropriate or provocative.
  • All attire must be neat and modest (although not in the policy, the email goes on to say that must be free from rips/tears, clean and no logos or printing other than employer issued shirts)
  • Supervisors can answer questions about what is appropriate.
  • Employees who violate the dress code can be asked to go home and change.  Time away from work to do this is uncompensated.

This comes on the heels of the following article in the New York Times.

The End of the Office Dress Code

This raises the question for me about how does one, especially women, figure out what the standards of professional attire are? I would not feel comfortable asking many of the supervisors I have had for input on this topic, but I have asked mentors. I have provided feedback to those I have mentored, both men and women, when asked or when it was clearly an issue. However, my preferred approach is to watch what my peers and higher ups wear and try to figure out their definitions of professional attire vs. business casual.

In general, I think my employer is fairly laid back as far as dress code standards, so I am curious who has worn what that prompted this. Does summer prompt dress code issues in your workplace or do you struggle more in the summer? Do you ever feel that this is just another area of ambiguous rules that can be bent to fit the situation?

City sidewalks

by Honolulu Mother

What kind of sidewalk walker are you?

There Are 3 Kinds of Sidewalk Walkers

I walk quickly so I’m probably a give-way type, as I need to snake through the slower walkers and the old ladies with pull-carts of shopping and the bus-stop crowds. But I do sometimes bump shoulders with that certain type of guy who walks down the middle of a narrow sidewalk and looks right at an on-comer and doesn’t move an inch to either side. I guess I’m not *that* willing to give way?

And, what kind of sidewalk behavior would you ban if you were the Monarch of the Sidewalks?

How much have you saved?

by Finn

While this story is about college financial aid, what I found most interesting was the finances of the families involved:

An inside look at financial aid offers from private Franklin & Marshall College

For example, Student A comes from a family with an AGI of $400k, with $635k in home equity and $360k in assets not in retirement accounts. While recognizing the possibility that they could have millions stashed in retirement accounts, doesn’t that seem like a net value of less than $1M outside of retirement accounts is low for that level of income? Granted, I also don’t know what sort of special circumstances they might’ve faced, e.g., expensive medical treatments, long periods with much less income, but if we assume they didn’t face any of that, wouldn’t you think they’d have accumulated more?

Side note: This example does suggest that maximizing retirement account contributions is one way to maximize financial aid.

Looking through the other examples, while some families have assets that seem commensurate with their incomes, especially the families with low incomes, it seems to me that others should’ve been able to accumulate more assets, including home equity.

What do you think? I know I’m well above national norms in terms of how much I save, but do you think these levels of assets and home equity seem low relative to their incomes, taking into account where they live?

The GOP’s future?

by Rhode

Republicans Left Wondering If Donald Trump Will Kill The Party Or Just Maim It

I’m interested in people’s opinions on this one. Is the HuffPost right about this one? Is the Republican Party as fractured as we are led to believe?

For those of you who lean right and tend to vote for Republicans, what are your thoughts on the Grand Ole Party?

Is a Trump Presidency as dire as the HuffPost believes?

Adult summer camp

by Grace aka costofcollege

Seattle adult summer camp provides escape from stress

What’s your fantasy adult summer camp?  Active or lazy?  Luxury or bare bones?  Hiking, crafts, swimming, boating, sports, performing arts, computers, science, language immersion, reading, yoga, boozy parties, or something else?  The sky’s the limit.  Describe what your ideal camp schedule might be. Or, would you rather skip camp all together?

Did you attend camp as a child?  Do your children attend camp?  Many people I’ve known have strong opinions on sending away their children to sleepaway camps that last six weeks or more.

Here’s a summer camp that seems geared toward a young party crowd, with DJ dance parties and alcohol all day long.

We went to an adult summer camp—and had a blast

Is it crazy to believe in the devil?

by WCE

As a psychiatrist, I diagnose mental illness. Also, I help spot demonic possession.

Dr. Gallagher writes about his efforts to distinguish mental illness from possible demon possession. He added this explanatory comment after the article was published.

Dr. GALLAGHER responds: Greetings to all. Since this essay garnered such enormous interest, I will add some context. I was asked to write this piece by the Post, not the reverse. As the superb editor made clear, it was NOT to be a scientific article about the evidence for or against possession, but rather my experience as a psychiatrist involved with suffering people. Yes, many of these individuals presented to me with paranormal and tormenting symptoms — and one is free to believe me or not, but I KNOW that to be unequivocally true. These cases are rare and they are not patients of mine. Further, despite the misleading title (which I did not assign the piece), I do not “diagnose” possession, as I stated, but just inform pro bono various clergy (not all Christian btw), as also stated, that as a very experienced physician these features may (or may not) go beyond medical pathology. I make no apology that I am expertly trained to do so (unlike some armchair experts). An article arguing for the reality of demonic possession, a complex and highly controversial subject, would require a much longer essay and a very different way of marshaling the evidence; I was not asked to do that. I thank the many readers who appreciated the piece and I predicted others would react with (many juvenile) ad hominem and sometimes ignorant and anti-Christian vitriol. What else is new?…

Big Data keeps tabs on college students

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

Institutions collect startling amounts of information on students. Do the students have a right to know how it’s being used, and should they be able to opt out?

As Big Data Comes to College, Officials Wrestle to Set New Ethical Norms – The Chronicle of Higher Education

[The linked article is behind a paywall, but here’s a PDF that will stay posted for a limited time.]

20160710.As Big Data Comes to College, Officials Wrestle to Set New Ethical Norms – The Chronicle of Higher Education (1)

Eat your veggies!

by Honolulu Mother

Here’s a Vox article on some of the reasons why Americans don’t eat enough vegetables, and some ideas for fixing that:

4 fixes for the astonishing lack of vegetables in the American diet

What do you think of those ideas? And do you have any favorite recipes or techniques for getting veggies on the table?

I’m partial to oven-roasting, especially cauliflower. And warm weather months are a good time for panzanella! I make a fairly simple one, and only when I have good tomatoes available. Ripe juicy tomatoes, big chunks of bread that were toasted in the oven at low heat, olive oil, salt, pepper, torn basil leaves, and mozzarella pearls, all tossed together — add cucumber or corn if you have some fresh — and there’s dinner! (Possibly with some questions from the kids like “Is this dinner?” and “Are we having any meat?”)

Credit cards

by Finn

A recent exchange of posts with Lemon brought this article to mind:

5 Signs It’s Time to Shop for a New Credit Card

How often do you shop for new cards? What criteria do you use in selecting which cards you get, and which cards you use?

We try to pay our balances every month, so we don’t really look at interest rates. What we look at primarily are rewards and annual fees. We value cash rewards over airline miles, due to its versatility, and the fact that we can use even small amounts of cash. We also look for cards with no foreign transaction fees, but since we don’t spend a whole lot of time outside the US, and already have a couple cards without those fees, that’s not a primary consideration.

We value the Discover Card cashback over others, because we can redeem cashback there by purchasing discounted gift cards from places we shop (e.g., Gap, Lowe’s). We once redeemed some cashback by buying several $100 gift cards for a hotel chain for $50 each, just before going on a trip in which we used those gift cards.

If you’ve found a card that offers a particularly good benefit, please share!

The new middle

by Rhode

A Portrait Of America’s Middle Class, By The Numbers

Our favorite topic – what is the middle class…

Do you agree with the numbers?

I found the shape of the middle class by numbers interesting. Who knew Sheboygan had 3.6 million people? But seriously, the more expensive the area, the larger the proportion of lower income (and the lower the median income). The McAllen Texas area is telling – and probably more representative of “middle America” than we on the coasts would like to believe.

How do you think these numbers will shape decisions at the Federal level? When we talk of political candidates talking to the middle class, do we mean middle class by income (like this article), or is it a more “cultural” middle class defined by attributes and values?

The unbearable hellishness of customer support

by MooshiMooshi

This article popped up in the NYTimes the other day. It is about how terrible phone and online customer support is, and more importantly, reasons why companies make their support so bad.

Having recently spent hours with Verizon trying to set up a kid-tracking service for our smartphones (the support tech never got the app to fully function, and she managed to delete my account in the process, despite assurring me she wasn’t going to mess up my account), and time today with the Marriott reservations (where I had to tell the machine bot screener what my question was, which of course it couldn’t parse, until I resorted to machine pidgin speak “reservation! cancellation! question!”, and then the agent had no idea what the cancellation policy on the booking site meant, and couldn’t even see the same rooms I was seeing), this is very much on my mind.

My most hated customer service companies are Verizon (totally, hands down) and any airline. My DH especially despises Apple, mainly because every time he tries to download a movie onto one of the kids Nanos, it fails and he ends up with customer service trying to make the download happen.

Who has the worst customer support in your opinion? Are there any that shine? (The small Linux-oriented company where I purchased my behemoth machine was fantastic when the laptop wasn’t charging properly, and I have had really good luck with Kindle support too). Do you have any particularly hilarious or horrifying customer support stories?

And, online support chat – yea or nay? I personally love it and always choose a chat over the phone. Much easier to follow, I can do other things at the same time, and I get a transcript.

 

University of Adjuncts

by Honolulu Mother

Gawker recently ran a series on the plight of the growing class of full-time-adjunct professors who, more and more, are doing the actual teaching in U.S. colleges and universities. You can see the whole series here:

Your Professors Are in the Struggle and They’re Not Winning Yet

Executive summary: it’s a terrible career path, and adjuncts don’t have the time or institutional support to be available to students outside of class the same way tenure-track professors are.

One obvious takeaway is that getting a PhD with plans to become a professor is highly inadvisable in this academic environment. But this trend may be concerning to Totebaggers for other reasons. For instance, as a parent of kids coming up on college age, I find it striking that the amount an individual college student pays per credit is similar to the amount the adjunct teaching the entire class is being paid per credit. That math seems wrong. And college students are going to find it more difficult to come up with references for first employment or grad school applications if the people teaching their classes are as likely as not to be gone the next year or the year after.

Is this a trend you’ve been following, and what are your thoughts on it?

Vacation splurges

by Denver Dad

We are going to Iceland next month and we booked a tour for an obscene cost. It’s a helicopter ride to the Thrihnukagigur volcano and then you take an open elevator down to the volcano floor. It’s the only place on earth where you can go into the magma chamber. We went back and forth on it, and finally decided it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we figured if we’re going to do it, we might as well go all in and do the helicopter ride instead of hiking up.

What are the biggest splurges you’ve made on vacation? What was worth it and what wasn’t?

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

by winemama

What are your thoughts on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Both Donald Trump and Hilary appear to be against it.

TPP: What is it and why does it matter?

“It involves 12 countries: the US, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru.

The pact aims to deepen economic ties between these nations, slashing tariffs and fostering trade to boost growth.

Member countries are also hoping to foster a closer relationship on economic policies and regulation.

The agreement could create a new single market something like that of the EU.”


Trans-Pacific Partnership Supporters Pin Hopes on Lame-Duck Vote

Election 2016, July 10-16

I thought I would change the weekly election post to Sunday so it would not distract attention from our regular Monday post.  Please continue to give me feedback on your preferences.

Any thoughts on our political races?  This commentary caught my attention.

What’s missing from “Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Struggle to Be Unifying Voice for Nation” by Patrick Healy in the NYT.

Before you push us to judge whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump would do better in bringing us together in racial harmony, Mr. Healy, please say a few words about why President Obama has failed. Of course, neither Clinton nor Trump inspires hope for a new opportunity at racial harmony. That’s what Obama did in 2008. He was ideal for that issue and we voted for the hope. Now, so many years later, things seem even worse. Can you analyze how that happened? Because that did happen. I don’t see how we can begin to think about what more Trump or Clinton could do unless we understand why President Obama failed.

If Obama couldn’t unite us, why should we think either of the current candidates can?

Smug style?

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

The smug style in American liberalism

I don’t agree with everything in this long essay, but some of it rings true. I take the author’s point about boycotting Indiana over the marriage equality issue but failing to boycott over the failure-to-expand Medicaid issue. “But few opinion makers fraternize with the impoverished”. I don’t know if that’s true. I do fraternize with the impoverished, and I’m usually horrified at how racist and reactionary they are, but I try not to be condescending about it and I try to figure out where they’re coming from. I don’t always succeed.

Charter Schools, Traditional Public Schools, and $$

by Honolulu Mother

Charter and Traditional Public Schools Fight Over Money

The linked American Prospect article discusses conflicts between traditional public schools and public charter schools over the limited available pot of public education dollars. The specifics of the conflict vary from place to place depending on state laws, but I would think that the existence of the conflict must be pretty universal.

To me, both types of school have a place in the public education system, and I think our state does a reasonable job of balancing the interests by limiting the number of charter schools that can be created so that they offer an alternative to, but not a threat to the existence of, neighboring public schools. Our main problem is ensuring that freeing charter schools from the usual bureaucratic oversight doesn’t result in nepotism and other egregious misuse of public money. However, it sounds like some states have been less successful in finding a funding structure that works for both traditional and charter schools.

I’m sure you all have thoughts on this.

The Administrative Burden of Getting Healthcare

by Honolulu Mother

In this Vox article, Sarah Kliff describes the process of coordinating her health care for a minor medical issue as “a part-time job where the pay is lousy, the hours inconvenient, and the stakes incredibly high.” She writes that

But American medicine demands another scarce resource from patients, and that is their time. The time it takes to check in on the status of a prescription, to wait for a doctor, to take time away from work to sit on hold and hope that, at some point, someone will pick up the phone.

I found dealing with the copious administrivia stemming from my daughter’s broken limb last year to be frustratingly time-consuming, and I wasn’t even dealing with the lion’s share of it. The billing disconnects between providers and insurer, the denial based on my husband’s name having been accidentally entered in the patient slot for one provider, the confusion as to whether some new piece of mail was an issue to be attended to or just another routine notification; it seemed that once we left the safe and familiar harbor of routine annual appointments we were at sea without a compass.

How have your experiences as a patient or patient’s family member been? Do you think the burden of administrative health care management falls on patients because practitioners aren’t aware the burden is there, or do you think it’s a more deliberate outsourcing as suggested by the following quote?

“Patients can often become the health care system’s free labor,” Mayo’s Montori says. “The health care system knows that patients are motivated, that they want to get better. So it gains efficiencies by transferring the work.”

Election 2016, July 4-10

This week I’m trying something a little different with the election update.

At the request of some Totebaggers who want to see election comments show up in the “recent comments” feed on the side bar, this week’s election update will be an extra Monday “post” instead of the usual “page” that shows up as a tab on the blog header bar.  Due to the way WordPress works, this is easiest way to make comments show up in the regular feed.

Speak up if you like it or if you don’t.  Or if you have other suggestions or comments.

Carry on.

What is a Totebagger?

by Grace aka costofcollege

What is your definition of a Totebagger?  Can you list the essential qualities/values/behaviors of a TB?  I’d be curious to see what you write before you read any comments already posted.

While the TB profile may be crystal clear to most of you, I find it hard to describe with precision.  It probably contains an important core component, along with squishy edges that meld into other categories of people.

How Totebaggy are you?  100%, or considerably less?  What are your most Totebaggy values or behaviors, and what are your least?