Open thread Halloween

We have an open thread all day today.

The Best Places to Trick-or-Treat in 2017

It occurred to me that trick-or-treating could be used as a metaphor to consider stark contrasts between parenting styles of different generations.

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Insider travel ideas

by S&M

Regulars on the blog are spread across the US, including major cities and smaller spots some of us would like to visit on vacation. We’ve exchanged travel reports, but what about our own backyards? I wonder if regulars in Houston and Seattle agree with these “insider” ideas for their cities, and what others would tell us to see and do where they live.

Travel Like You Live Here

Cocktail hour

by Honolulu Mother

The Daily Beast recently ran this fun ode to the Manhattan:

How Manhattan Drinkers Are Different From Martini Drinkers

(Side note: Imagine an era where she put that on her head, looked in the mirror, and thought, “Oooh, so chic!”)

Do you like Manhattans? And if so, is it a year-round drink or do you switch to something like a G&T in the summer? Is a little bowl of nuts, olives, or cheese straws a necessary accompaniment? (Recommendation: Hunter Mix combined with Bombay Mix. I discovered when googling for the links that I’m not the only one who likes this combination.)

What’s your tipple?

When you want to lose ‘just a few’ pounds

by July

Many of us would like to lose just a few pounds, maybe 10 pounds or less.  Often the extra weight has slowly crept up slowly over the years.

At 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, Mr. Edis, the chief executive and a founder of the smart-car start-up Dash, cuts an impressive figure to other people. But when he takes off his black V-neck T-shirt, he can see the extra pounds (he would like to be down to 185). And he is not fine with it.

Is Mr. Edis realistic?  Many of us are in his shoes, wishing to lose just 5-10 pounds. Partly it may be because we wistfully remember our body’s glory days, roughly from the teen years to mid thirties, and we’d like to recreate some of those bygone images.  Realistically it is nearly impossible for the average person to continue to weigh the same as they did back in their twenties so perhaps we should give up that hope once and for all.

Here’s someone else who’s gained a few pounds along the way.

‘I used to be 106lbs but now I’m 126lbs!’: Cher, 71, reveals she no longer fits into her crazy Seventies costumes… but she refuses to throw them out

What about you?  Do you want to lose just a “few” pounds?  Or do you believe that’s a fool’s errand and have accepted that you’ll probably carry that extra weight for the rest of your life?  Some of us here have lost considerably more weight, or are currently working on losing more.  Are you happy with your weight or do you fret about it?

Multi generational living

by Mémé

My older daughter has been living with us for more than a year now. It has been just fine. We don’t have a giant house, but the finished ground floor (walkout with patio) is large and has a modest adjacent bathroom with shower and room for lots of storage. She has a parking space across the street for her car, public transit access, a WeWork desk in the financial district, the big tv and loveseat partitioned off by a large IKEA divider (we only requisition it for Patriots games or movies when she is away), good internet service, and a well stocked kitchen (she cooks for the family sometimes), and I try to make meals for “2 ½” just in case, and there is no need to label the food containers in the fridge – if something gets eaten, so be it. For the first year the room was not configured as a permanent studio apt – but this summer’s flood required a reno and that fact papered over two thorny issues – the grand piano, not used for several years, needed to go to storage to do the floor and so it wasn’t a sad rite of passage into senescence for my husband, and also, fixing the room up nicely was a no brainer, so it was not a conscious acknowledgement on either my side or hers that the relaunch isn’t imminent, with all that implies.

What has been unexpected for me is that I really enjoy having another adult around. She helps out and takes up some of the household burden in subtle ways, and not so subtly in that I can leave DH without a lot a worry. I also have someone else besides him as companion. The downside for him is that I have someone else besides him as companion. I have to be more attentive about scheduling couple time. On the other hand, we choose to leave for a few days or longer more often to get away and alone, and it is easier to do so because we don’t have to make arrangements for the animals or other empty house worries.

Of course, I want her to get steady work, consulting or traditional, and move into an apartment again. She lived on her own for 17 years starting at age 20 and still has a decent retirement nest egg, if not much left in the after tax accounts.

Totebaggers, please share your experiences, if any, with multigenerational living and any other thoughts.

Will declining Midwestern universities increase geographic inequality?

by MooshiMooshi

Universities, especially the land grant universities, have long taken a leading role in developing local economies. This is increasingly important today, as regions compete to attract companies and professionals who work in the knowledge sector (think of the current Amazon competition, for example). Universities often function as a hub, nurturing and advising high tech startups and small companies that move research into production. Think of the roles played by Stanford and Berkeley in creating Silicon Valley, or Duke and UNC in creating the Research Triangle tech hub. Universities not only provide ideas and research for companies, but also in many cases sponsor major hospitals with state of the art facilities, healthcare outreach to the community, and provide sports and cultural events, all things that make a region more attractive to companies and educated workers.

Sadly, declines in funding for public universities, which are particularly important in the Midwest where there is less tradition of well endowed private universities, threaten all of this. This is something that has the potential to exacerbate geographic inequalities, since underfunded Midwestern public universities will end up having less and less ability to fill their roles as economic drivers. Is this another sign of the death spiral in the Midwest? Is there a solution?

The Decline of the Midwest’s Public Universities Threatens to Wreck Its Most Vibrant Economies

Pies

by Mémé

I love pies. Double crust, lattice, open face. Sweet – Fruit pies of all kinds, lemon meringue, key lime, transparent (such as pecan), tarte tatin (for me, not so much cream pies). Savory pies, too. Turkey or chicken pot pies, English pub pies, quiche.

For chicken or turkey pot pie, I use Pillsbury crusts. I sautée coarsely diced onion and carrot in butter, then add chopped mushroom. After that gets cooked a bit (more butter usually needed) I add flour and cook it a bit more (not quite a roux). Then add some broth, the chopped chicken or turkey, shredded parmesan. Then the green veggie, either uncooked English peas or cut up sugar snap peas, and some coarsely diced red bell pepper. Last step is to stir in some sour cream (stop cooking it now). Salt and pepper to taste. If the stock isn’t flavorful, maybe a little herb mix. Then into the pie shell, put the other shell on top with slits and crimp the edges, and into oven at 375 for 40 min. I use an aluminum ring around the edge of the pie plate to prevent burning.

My dessert specialty is very tart strawberry rhubarb, usually lattice top. Secret ingredients are orange zest and a beaten egg along with the flour to bind.

Totebaggers, share your pie preferences and recipes, please.

Commuting

by Honolulu Mother

This U.S. News article discussed an interesting study on how commuting patterns are slowly changing:

How Commuting Is Changing

Here’s the article’s summary of national trends:

On the national level these figures illustrate a few large, long-term trends that are continuing to play themselves out over time. Slow, steady declines in single drivers are offset by equally slow increases in public transit riders. A lot is made of the gains in so-called nonmotorized commuters walking and biking – and for good reason – but by far the biggest change is in those staying at home to work.

And of differences in commuting patterns from place to place:

… the places where commuters predominantly drive to work alone are concentrated in the South and the Midwest. On the flipside, transit-intensive counties also tend to have the highest rates of walkers, taxi riders and bicyclists. Those who are able to work from home the most seem concentrated in suburban, or collar, counties where they be otherwise facing long trips into the central business district.

I’ve noticed that the recently introduced bikeshare program here seems to be drawing a lot of commuters, with racks in the business / financial district filling up in the morning and emptying in the evening (although the bikeshare van does its best to rebalance the supply by moving bikes around). But my own commute is a single-person-in-car commute by the time I get to work, even though it usually starts as a full car leaving home.

Has your commute changed in recent years? Do you see the kind of gradual changes the article talks about?

What a drag it is gettin’ old

by Mémé

There was a recent post on so-called superagers. I pooh-poohed all that in the comments, but I would like to advance another point of view with some seriousness.

After a certain age one needs time, and we who are privileged have the opportunity to take it without having to work for pay well before death is imminent. Time to recover from physical activity. More time to perform tasks, both mental and physical, that formerly you could do quickly or from “muscle” memory without conscious thought or planning. Time for double takes or less than instantaneous recall so that you can be sure you are proceeding or speaking with accuracy.

As an older person, those quick meals on the fly or bits of reading/podcast when I can fit them in lose appeal. I would just as soon skip a meal as scarf something down. And read books in an easy chair, stopping when I reach an actual stopping point and not just the end of the commute. I am also not under the tyranny of the clock for most household tasks. There is almost always tomorrow if I don’t get to something. Or if I really need to spend time on preparing a meal or on the garden or the grandchildren, I don’t have to do with one eye on the start time for my next task. (Although I do need electronic reminders because I have lost the ability to keep all that in my head when there is an actual appointment.)

I know that when I get overscheduled, my body simply tells me to stop. Despite a clean bill of health from my physician this week, and terrific “numbers”, I am currently dealing with a pinched nerve “headache” (still abating), my thumb joints ache all the time, and if I don’t eat on the right schedule and in the right quantity my digestion lets me know its displeasure.

Totebaggers, where do you fall on the continuum between near constant activity/ stimulation, much of it enjoyable, and stillness/recuperation, some of which may seem like unnecessary indolence?

Is Nagging Really Emotional Labor?

by AustinMom

Before we go any further, I don’t think this a women’s only issue. After reading the article, I thought about our circle of friends and could only identify two couples where this “emotional labor” seems to be taken on by the male rather than female partner.

Maybe this article hit home because in the past few weeks, I have done several of these things that require the preliminary leg work, but feel thankless in the end. I agree my partner takes on specific household chores and does things I ask, but it is those things that take this emotional labor that he runs the other way from. And, his response is exactly like the author’s husband – make one phone call, decide it is too much effort, and try to change the “request” or do it where it causes me other work.

Totebaggers – Does your family resemble this dynamic, regardless of gender?

WOMEN AREN’T NAGS—WE’RE JUST FED UP

Job transitions

by Honolulu Mother

In this request for advice to New York Magazine’s Ask a Boss, an employee leaving a nonprofit worried that her soon-to-be-former boss expected her to still be available after her planned departure for another job:

‘I Quit, But My Boss Won’t Let Me Go!’

Have you ever had a previous job try to follow you to your new job? Do you have any tips for smooth transitions, both for leaving the old workplace in good shape to carry on without you and for preparing to hit the ground running in the new job?

Can We Agree to Disagree?

by AustinMom

This New York Times article came though just after I had blocked two “friends” on Facebook. I rarely block anyone on Facebook because they hold opposing views to mine. However, when their comments moved from respectfully disagreeing to name calling and spewing hate, I was done. I was wondering how we got to this point where we cannot agree to disagree on something, but we choose to only interact with people and in forums where we agree.

The article, which I found very interesting, talks about how you have to understand an idea or position before you can disagree with it. From Amazon to Facebook to the news channels we select, we tend to favor and consume more of the goods, services, ideas and positions we agree with. I purposefully listen to a talk radio show that I almost always disagree with the host. I don’t do it to torture myself as one friend suggested, but to try to be open to at least understanding a different point of view.

What troubled me most in this article is that students on college campus – a place I always thought of as one to explore various points of view – is the place that disagreement seems to be least tolerated. And, this builds on some comments I have seen on college discussions about does the college campus hold the same political viewpoint as my family that I thought were isolated.

Totebaggers – Do you see a trend of limiting your exposure to those media sources and people you agree with? Do you agree that we have lost the art of disagreement?

The Dying Art of Disagreement

Do Your Teens Get Enough Sleep?

by Honolulu Mother

It’s reported that very few teens get an adequate amount of sleep — on the order of 15% — and this is bad for them in a host of ways ranging from general health to mental focus, as discussed in this Psychology Today article:

Your Teen Needs More Sleep

This seems to go along with the recent suggestion that much of what is classified as ADHD could actually be a sleep disorder:

Could some ADHD be a type of sleep disorder? That would fundamentally change how we treat it.

I push my kids to get to bed at night, but there are challenges such as high homework loads, group projects where the group wants to meet online late at night, and of course the every-present electronic temptations. And of course since I get up earlier in the morning than they do, if I want to get enough sleep myself I can’t be staying up to make sure everyone really gets to bed at the time promised. So, I find that school vacations always start with the kids sleeping half the day as they catch up.

Do your teens and younger children get 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night? If not, is this a concern for you?

Open thread

Today we have an open thread all day.

Locally we celebrate Columbus Day in a big way, but I wonder if that will soon change.

Should the United States Celebrate Columbus Day?

Here’s the NYT’s opinion on how “symbols of hate” should be treated.

Robert E. Lee, Christopher Columbus … and Pétain?

Should I throw out my Dr. Seuss books?

Dr. Seuss museum to replace mural after complaints of racism

Twitter Wars

by Honolulu Mother

I was amused to read about this recent Twitter war between two science museums:

Man accidentally starts Twitter war between Natural History and Science museums

Much preferable to some other Twitter wars we’ve recently seen.

Do you prefer your Twitter wars between celebrities, politicians, venerable institutions, businesses, or brands? Or do you prefer to mix those categories? What Twitter war would you like to instigate?

Wolf vs. Coyote?

by WCE

This ODFW quiz will help you learn to distinguish between wolves and coyotes. (15 questions) It also showed me how I can improve in an area in which I initially have no knowledge. I am more confident that I could distinguish a wolf from a coyote at a glance after taking this quiz. Previously, I had just assumed all such animals are coyotes, since coyotes are more common.

Coyote and Gray Wolf Identification

Are You Doing What it Takes to be a Superager?

by AustinMom

This article came out a while back, but it just came across my feed again recently. I have seen a mild decline in my partner who retired 7 years ago. I saw it in myself after returning to work with a “hard” after 8 months off event though I did mentally stimulating things. Before I saw this article, I fell into the category of thinking engaging things and mild exercise would be enough. After reading the article and looking at people around me, I can see those superagers around me and they all have the characteristics of doing “hard” mental and/or physical activity. Totebaggers, are you doing what it takes to be a superager?

How do you become a superager? Many labs have observed that these critical brain regions increase in activity when people perform difficult tasks, whether the effort is physical or mental. The road to superaging is difficult, though, because these brain regions have another intriguing property: When they increase in activity, you tend to feel pretty bad — tired, stymied, frustrated. Superagers are like Marines: They excel at pushing past the temporary unpleasantness of intense effort. Studies suggest that the result is a more youthful brain that helps maintain a sharper memory and a greater ability to pay attention.

This means that pleasant puzzles like Sudoku are not enough to provide the benefits of superaging. Neither are the popular diversions of various “brain game” websites. You must expend enough effort that you feel some “yuck.” Do it till it hurts, and then a bit more.

In the United States, we are obsessed with happiness. But as people get older, research shows, they cultivate happiness by avoiding unpleasant situations. This is sometimes a good idea, as when you avoid a rude neighbor. But if people consistently sidestep the discomfort of mental effort or physical exertion, this restraint can be detrimental to the brain.

How to Become a ‘Superager’

Postponing ‘adult behavior’

by MooshiMooshi

This pretty much sums up my two teen boys. At 15 and 17, neither one dates, drinks, or drives. Their friends are all the same. They don’t even seem to have any interest in girls (or boys). I thought teens were supposed to be a hotbed of hormones. Was it something in the water?

Not drinking or driving, teens increasingly put off traditional markers of adulthood

What publications do you read?

by Finn

Louise recently asked for some advice on science magazines, but let’s expand that to publications in general.

What publications do you read, and would you suggest to your fellow totebaggers? Do you read hardcopy versions? Online? Kindle or other electronic copy?

What publications do you subscribe to, including online subscriptions? Are there any particular publications you subscribe to because you think they deserve your financial support?