‘Indecisiveness is the number one reason for failure.’

by Mémé

“Indecisiveness is the number one reason for failure. Lack of ability to make a decision in a timely manner causes most people to fail with their projects and plans. Identify this challenge and decide to no longer let it be a setback from your success.”

I searched for a quotation to use as the opening for this post, and I got this from a motivational speaker whose book is titled No Excuses.

We often talk about the qualities we wish to develop in our children. Being Totebaggers, after the obligatory nod to future happiness, we usually rank conscientiousness before self actualization, grit before reliance on natural talent. Adventure is laudable in its (youthful) place, but making tradeoffs and being in an overall secure position are the way most of us have conducted our lives and we would prefer our children end up that way too.

In looking at my own life, I would like to propose another quality that is not usually mentioned – decisiveness. I do some vague thinking about what I might want to do at a future and foreseen decision point, but the time comes I take a shockingly minimal amount of time to act. In consumer matters, this is evident. When we bought the townhouse, I went onto the local real estate site, went out alone one weekend in our neighborhood, preselected 3 places, took DH the next weekend, we picked one and made an offer. Done. I was thinking about a new Camry so I put some cash in an account, a very short friend mentioned that she was getting a new RAV4, the lightbulb went off, I spent one evening on the computer and bought the car the next day. But in much greater matters as well. Going to grad school, changing jobs/retiring, getting a divorce (4 mos from move out to initial decree). Obviously not all of my hasty choices work out optimally, but I am always moving forward and if I turn out to be wrong I just pick myself back up and make a change if necessary.

So do you agree with the idea that decisiveness of this type is a positive quality? Can it be developed? Do you think that extended reflection or analysis paralysis is like other “innate” personality traits that are impossible or very difficult to change?

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Volkswagen emissions scandal

by WCE

I was interested in this article’s vague referrals to how differences in the legal system meant different consequences to Volkswagen for violating emissions standards in the U.S. and Europe. I continue to be interested in this scandal because I had wondered for years how Volkswagen met emissions standards that the Korean researchers I edit for struggled to approach in their diesel engine emissions optimizations.

Do you think Volkswagen’s corporate culture is atypical? Can someone explain more about the differences between European and U.S. legal systems, in that the consequences to Volkswagen for violating environmental law are so much more severe in the U.S.? Does anyone see parallels to the $20 billion payout from British Petroleum for the 2010 Gulf Oil spill?

Volkswagen’s Diesel Scandal Was 80 Years in the Making

Cats

by Sheep Farmer

Displaying imageedit_12_8200060755.jpg

I am the owner of a new cat. Mamma Cat, as she is now known, decided that my barn would be the perfect place to raise her family of three kittens. Lots of feral cats have shown up on our farm over the years. I have never fed any of them and most of them disappear after a few weeks. That all changed with our new arrival. Mamma Cat had been hanging around for a several months, always running away when she saw us. Last month I noticed a litter of kittens in a corner of the barn. DH and DD convinced me that I needed to feed her. She no longer runs away when she sees me, but she still keeps her distance. I now feel responsible for her, so she has an appointment in a few weeks to get spayed and get a rabies shot.. Have any of you adopted a stray that has shown up at your house? Is anyone planning on getting a new pet this year? If so, what type? If anyone is thinking about getting a cat this year, I know where you can get one!

Being single and happy

by Grace aka costofcollege

What If Marriage Is Overrated?

Bella DePaulo, a social psychologist, studies single people.

… For years, DePaulo has been chipping away at the commonly held belief — a myth, in her view and according to her research — that marriage offers unique happiness and well-being benefits. These findings are seriously overstated or misleading, DePaulo has argued, and if there weren’t so much intense social pressure to get married, a lot more people would be single, and many of them might be happier as a result.

Maybe more people should consider staying single, according to DePaulo.

... they are more likely than married people to encourage, help and socialize with their friends and neighbors. They are also more likely to visit, support, advise and stay in touch with their siblings and parents.

In fact, people who live alone are often the life of their cities and towns. They tend to participate in more civic groups and public events, enroll in more art and music classes, and go out to dinner more often than people who live with others. Single people, regardless of whether they live alone or with others, also volunteer more for social service organizations, educational groups, hospitals and organizations devoted to the arts than people who are married.

Most totebaggers are married so that may color their opinions on this topic.  I question the view that single people contribute more to cities and town, but I believe a mix of singles and marrieds makes for a more vibrant community.

What’s your opinion on this?  What have you observed or experienced that influences your view?  How do you imagine your life if you (married) had never married or if you (single) were to marry?  Do you think people have a “personality” better suited for being married or being single?  Other thoughts?

Learning myths

by MooshiMooshi

The general public buys into a lot of myths about how people learn, according to this study. Lots of people still buy into the idea of “learning styles” even though research does not support the idea at all. But most horrifyingly,

“More than 40 percent of respondents believed that teachers don’t need to know a subject area such as math or science, as long as they have good instructional skills. In fact, research shows that deep subject matter expertise is a key element in helping teachers excel.”

This may be one of the biggest problems with US education. if the public doesn’t believe that teachers need to know their subject, why should schools bother to hire teachers with expertise? If 90% still believe in learning styles, that is what the schools will give us.Schools just do what their constituents want. As the article says
“Public schools, in particular, are governed by school boards often composed of non-educators. They are subject to pressure from parents, too.”

You Probably Believe Some Learning Myths: Take Our Quiz To Find Out

I certainly see that in our district. That may be largely because it is a small district with highly involved parents – perhaps a larger district with more distracted parents would not feel the pressure as much. The problem is that even in our well educated district, the pressure on the schools is often not good pressure. Many parents, especially parents of elementary school age kids, want less rigor in the schools. Many parents that I speak with buy into the learning styles myth, as well as the right brain left brain myth. I have heard parents complain that a particular teacher is not respecting their little Johnny’s right brain orientation.

On a practical note, I have been aware for a while that research shows that active learning is better, even with simple tasks such as studying for a test. I constantly nag my kids, and my students too, not to simply read and reread the text. They should quiz themselves, work problems, or rephrase the text. Sadly, both my kids and my students resist.

Take the quiz. How did you do? Are you up on research into learning?

Long-term care insurance

by Sheep Farmer

My insurance agent recently asked me if I had long-term care insurance. When I told her that I did not, she told me that I should seriously consider purchasing it I am not quite 50, so LTC insurance is not something that I had given any thought to. I went home and started researching LTC. I looked up prices, statistics as to what percentage of the population needs long-term care, the length of time spend in long-term care, etc. I considered the longevity of my own family and that of DH. After much thought and research, I decided that we would be better off putting the same amount that the monthly premiums for LTC would be into an index fund. If we need LTC, we will be to self fund it, and if we don’t need it, then DD will stand to inherit quite a bit of money. What are your opinions on LTC? Have your or members of your family purchased it?

Open thread

Today we have an open thread to discuss anything on your mind.

How was your weekend?  What are your plans for the coming week, including Memorial Day?

I was shocked, saddened, and angered by this story.  It made me wonder how many other similar situations have existed in the recent past or even today.

My Family’s Slave
She lived with us for 56 years. She raised me and my siblings without pay. I was 11, a typical American kid, before I realized who she was.

The Latest Country Whose Parenting We Should Emulate

by Honolulu Mother

I’m sure we all remember when we were urged to go all Tiger Mom on our kids, and when a bit later we were urged to feed them pate and celeriac and send them off to play while the grown-ups talk, because French women not only don’t get fat, they also don’t serve up Easy Mac to picky eaters or hover over playdates. But now we’re offered a new group to be more like: the Dutch!

The key to raising happy kids? The latest trend says do as the Dutch do.

I am especially amused by this because a few years ago, around when the Tiger Mom stuff was big in the news, my daughter’s friend (whose mother is Dutch) had come along for a weekend at my parents’ house and my mother, impressed with the friend’s behavior, was talking about how there should be a book on Dutch parenting . . . right up until the friend accidentally dropped a gecko in my mother’s lap and it ended up inside her shorts.

The article suggests that features of Dutch childhood include plenty of independence, time for play, and minimal academic stress, all helped along by a wholly un-American level of work-life balance. Does that sound good to you? Does it sound feasible? And, what country’s parenting style do you think we should next be urged to adopt, and why?

Open thread

Today we have an open thread to discuss anything you’d like at any time of the day.

Here’s one topic suggested by a reader.

Several people on this blog have mentioned taking anti-depressants, either long- or short-term. A prescription for those, in my experience, comes with a recommendation for therapy. I have a little experience doing this, but have yet to really click with anyone. These suggestions sound helpful, but are also very vague. What other tips have people found useful in starting therapy?

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN STARTING THERAPY


Here’s a survey for interested readers to take.

Food finds

by S&M

What are you eating these days? I don’t mean matzoh balls, Cadbury Creme eggs or springtime asparagus. What have you recently started eating? Have you “columbused” any good new-to-you foods?

I came across Chobani roasted red pepper dip in the deli section recently. I like that company’s Greek yogurt, so I gave this a try. Yum! It’s good on all the standby crackers and veggies. I’ve dived into a couple of “old” foods with renewed vigor. Since learning that scallops, which I once thought of as an occasional treat, are pretty much straight protein and no fat, I’ve eaten them nearly every other day. Lunch today was pasta, scallops sautéed with leeks, and the dip as a sauce. I’ve also put scallops into salads, often with sun dried tomatoes. Another thing that’s new to me is protein powder. I haven’t figured out very many ways to use it yet, other than stirring it into Greek yogurt. It can supposedly be substituted for up to half the flour in baked goods, but I chicken out every time I think I’m going to try that.

My issue with gluten seems to be over now. It expanded until corn and rice, which have no gluten, were also giving me problems, and then one day I had to have a bite of something my son was eating because it looked so good, and I was fine. That means I can renew all my old favorites. I’m glad because quinoa takes more time and attention to make than couscous. I can put water on the stove, chop veggies, pour the water over the couscous, saute the veggies, and dump them over the grain with a squirt of lemon juice and a little EVOO in ten minutes. Another old thing that’s new again are pizzelles, for the simple reason that the very thin waffles don’t have many calories or fat grams. I tell myself that they are cookies, and I can eat the whole thing.

So what’s new on your table?

When do you let your kids quit an activity?

by tcmama

When do you let your kids quit an activity? Our sons, 1st grade and kindergarten, are taking piano lessons. I have no musical ability, but I feel it is important for them to have some exposure to music. We are finishing their first year of lessons. The kids are starting to complain about practicing. Mostly the older one is complaining about practicing, and I think the younger one complains because his brother does. I don’t want them to quit because it is getting harder, but at the same time, I don’t want to force them to do something they don’t like.

Both kids like music and say they would like to try other instruments when they get older. The younger son seems to have an interest in music – he goes through life singing and making up songs. If we allowed the older son to quit piano, I think the younger son would quit too because he wants to do everything his brother does.

If this were a sport that the kid didn’t want to do, I’d let them quit once the season was over and not sign them up again. I wonder though if it should be different with music. I’m not sure if they are complaining now because it is getting harder and they don’t want to work through it. I’m not having them play piano as a resume builder for college. I want them to have exposure and appreciation for music.

Other info – I don’t think they mind going to the lessons because it is during their after-school care, so we don’t need to drive them to it. I started paying them to practice as they wanted to earn more money (daily prices – $0.25 for one time through all songs, $0.50 for two times through, and $0.75 for 3 or more times through).

For those of you who play an instrument or did play an instrument, did your parents make you play? How long did you take lessons for? Do you wish you would have stuck with it for longer? Should I let them take next year off and try taking lessons again when they are older? Any tips to help make practicing more enjoyable or provide more incentive for practicing? Should we allow them to stop taking lessons?

Is the world too complicated for us?

by WCE

Our world outsmarts us
Social problems are fantastically complex, while human minds are severely under-engineered. Is democracy doomed?

Given our ongoing discussions of human frailty, weakness and variation, this article seemed appropriate. The description of the “intuitive response” to the false positive test appealed to me and reminded me of my favorite picture of that.

Education attainment levels across America

by Grace aka costofcollege

These educational attainment maps covering the United States reveal stark contrasts in some areas.

Educational Attainment in America

You can take a look at major cities, rural areas, and your own neighborhood.  It appears that my home is in a locale significantly less educated than the areas surrounding me on three sides.

A comment from the original poster of this link on a CollegeConfidential thread.

One of the things that this map reveals is that many cities and towns have very, very discrete divisions between educated and uneducated populations–often a single street, and that street often corresponds with ethnic/racial demographics.

Check out Austin Blvd. in Chicago, the crazy little UWS “peninsula” extending into Harlem in NYC, Palo Alto proper vs. East Palo Alto (divided by Highway 101), Philadelphia (you don’t need me to point it out–it’s obvious), and so many other cities.

We still are very, very segregated.

This NYT article highlights segregation in the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Family by Family, How School Segregation Still Happens

Does the map data in your location surprise you?  Does it appear accurate?  Would you use this type of information when house hunting?  Totebaggers probably seek to live among other highly educated people.  Have you ever searched for and moved your family to an educationally diverse neighborhood?

How to deal with personal issues affecting work

by Louise

There have been a few times when health crisis/issues have forced me to request even more flexibility at work. One time I was reluctant to share the details but I found that all up the management chain were very sympathetic and actually asked me what I was doing at work instead of taking care of the issue.

Recently one new hire didn’t work out because she had not got over the death of a grown child. I felt I was way more sympathetic than others in my workplace.

How have you managed a personal crisis and work? Have you been forced eventually to quit because things became too hard to manage?

How To Deal With Personal Issues At Work (Keep Personal Issues From Harming Your Job And Career)

How Do You Use Humor?

by Honolulu Mother

Here’s a humor quiz from New York Magazine that looks not at whether you have a sense of humor (we all do, of *course*), but instead how you use humor in interacting with others:

Test Yourself: Psychologists Created a Quiz to Define Your Sense of Humor

According to the article accompanying the quiz,

The HSQ divides humor into four main styles: Affiliative, Self-Enhancing, Aggressive, and Self-Defeating. Affiliative humor means cracking jokes, engaging in banter, and otherwise using humor to make others like us. Self-enhancing humor is an optimistic, coping humor, characterized by the ability to laugh at yourself or at the absurdity of a situation and feel better as a result. Aggressive humor is characterized by sarcasm, teasing, criticism, and ridicule. Self-defeating humor is attempting to get others to like us by putting ourselves down.

As the article notes, humor isn’t an unqualified good, as it can be used to positive or negative ends. I took the quiz and came out as primarily affiliative, which didn’t surprise me. Do any Totebaggers find themselves surprised by a quiz result? And, does the analysis of humor styles correspond with your observations generally?

Happy travel

by S&M

This post mentions the famous (I think) free 3-day Reykjavik layover from Iceland air. It got me thinking about other possible things to do on layovers, like the Air and Space Museum right next to Dulles. Then I started reminiscing about past layover “wins”.

Flying between Ethiopia and Germany, I had my flights rearranged in Entebbe as Clinton (and AF 1) delayed our departure. When I got to Rome, I had an 8 hr layover, and didn’t want to hang out in any more airport space. I rode the subway into the city, not sure where I was going, but happy to be out of the airport (I was 32, single, and childfree). As I came up from the station, most of the crowd seemed to be going in one direction. I saw no reason to swim against the tide. I continued to move along for a couple of blocks before the people ahead of me handed over their bags for someone to search. The whole crowd seemed to be lining up. Huh? Random security checks on the sidewalk? I looked around and realized we were at the gates of the Vatican. I went on in, no ticket required, and found myself standing in St Peter’s Square, just outside the Basillica, with hundreds if not thousands of people. What now? The pope? I was joking to myself, but sure enough, the crowd at one end parted, cheers went up, and there was the famous Popemobile, with the pontiff smiling and waving as he drove through the crowd. He drove around a bit before he gave a brief welcome and blessing and I think that was it. It was a bit of a surreal experience.

Another time, I knew in advance that my son and I would have an 11-hr layover after flying across the Pacific. We had nearly missed our outbound flight in LAX, so I was fine with the wait, but with a 3 year old? We took a cab to the beach, played in the surf, slept in the sun, ate in a cafe, and were refreshed when our redeye began.

So how ’bout it? Do you have any good layover stories, intentional or not?

Layovers Don’t Have to Suck: Escape the Airport and Explore

Rituals and superstitions

by Louise

I grew in a country with a great deal of superstitions. People had various rituals to ward off the evil eye, observed auspicious days and times and matched birth horoscopes of potential life partners.  I lived for a long time in a city obsessed by The Curse of the Bambino (thankfully broken). Baseball players are known for their rituals.

The only superstition I have is being cautious of sharing certain bits of news. I waited three months to announce my pregnancies and didn’t reveal the name until the baby was born. Even now, I am cautious about sharing routine achievements of my kids.

What are some of your superstitions or (cough) rituals ?

Who needs a NMSF house?

by S&M

We’ve discussed not so smart technology before. Now it seems the pendulum is really swinging back, from “cram in all the tech” to “moderate tech” to….what?

I don’t feel the need to have internet access for every single thing. We’ve had motion-detector lights in the bathrooms for several years. They get us to the potty in the middle of the night, but don’t blind us. During the day, it’s nice to avoid the very loud fans that come on with the overhead lighting in there. (Aside: I know one visitor to Germany, where these are de rigueur in public facilities, who recalls the lights going out  too early, and living in terror the rest of her trip, afraid that it would happen again.) The following made me laugh “those of us that just want to wake up in the morning feeling like our body loves us back don’t need a bunch of touchscreens. We just want a cup of coffee to pep up so that we don’t walk into our office screaming at everyone”. I love my little mocha pot, and sometimes use a simple pour-over cone. Works for me. And grilling? Isn’t that all about getting in touch with the primal lure of fire?

How about you? Do you embrace a dumb house?

LOW-TECH WAYS TO LIVE THE HIGH LIFE AT HOME