Apparently, some people like to Cry

by Mémé

This article from the NYT piqued my interest.   You see, I HATE to cry, and rarely do.   Sentimental stuff doesn’t turn on the waterworks.    Most of the the crying I have done in my life after childhood is the hard, ugly, devastated and/or frustrated kind.     The only kind I have ever found cathartic is the one associated with biological reaction to a sudden physical injury.

The author states:

I cry. I am a crier. Crying releases the anger and frustration. Crying gets the sad out, and it humbles me in a good way. In the aftermath of crying, I experience clarity of thought and a burst of productivity.

And then she lists her favorite ways to make herself cry.   In the internet era, she likes to seek out soldier surprise homecoming videos, tragic gofundme campaigns.   And there are the old standbys –  books like Beaches, TV shows like This is Us, and apparently daytime TV such as Ellen deGeneres.

Are you someone who finds crying a welcome release?   Do you seek it out?   What odd things make you cry?



That which does not kill us, makes us stronger


A high school friend is sailing from California to Florida. He has done a number of things in his life, military, acting, private investigator and is now retired in his early 50s and sailing from California to Florida. One of the many refreshing things about his FB posts are his refusal to worry about material possessions. He has lost a house in a wildfire, rebuilt it, wrote a how to book about the process, and generally refuses to worry about lots of stuff.

Someone expressed recently expressed concern about a big storm/potential hurricane in the Gulf, and his response was basically: I’ll ride it out, or get behind a sea wall and get a hotel. If the boat sinks, I have insurance and will buy another one.

I recall in high school he was as worried as the rest of us about how life would pan out. Now, not so much.

Have you been able to navigate life challenges and jettison baggage/concerns/worries because, well you faced a challenge, saw it through and realized that it was handle-able?

5 Chores You Should Never Skip (Even If You’re Busy)

 by saacnmama
From the site Apartment Therapy

1. Making the bed

2. Doing the dishes

3. Picking up dirty laundry

4. Quick countertop swipes

5. Vacuuming common areas

The complementary list of weekly(?) chores that they think can be skipped if you are busy.

1. Mopping

2. Scrubbing the shower

3. Taking out the trash

4. Doing laundry

5. Organizing your entryway, dining room or coffee table

These are so different than mine! When I make the bed during the day, it makes no difference to me.  I fold back the sheets to air out when I wake up, and pull them straight sometime before going to bed.  What is really worth making time for is putting things away.   I have no trouble rinsing dishes off as they’re used or tossing things in the hamper, or even in the washing machine, as long as that next step isn’t blocked. What about you? What are your “must do” chores to keep your home clean?


Memorial Day Open Thread

Here are the topics for the rest of the week :





Totebag challenge week 3 will go up Wednesday.  The final challenge day in June is a Friday, so weeks 3 and 4 will be Eight Days a Week.



2018 Politics Open Thread, May 27- Jun 2

“I’m sick and tired of old men sitting around in air conditioned rooms here in Washington, dreaming up wars for young men to die in.” — George McGovern

Memorial Day is a time to remember and honor those who died in military service.     In my (Mémé’s) opinion, there is no greater honor than to stop adding to their number.



What’s in a (middle) name?

by Mémé

From time to time we have discussions on names, and trends in names.   Unfortunately, the anonymous nature of the site means that we can’t relate much of anything about the actual names used in our families.

Do you have a middle name?   Do your kids have them?    Is there something in your ethnic or regional background that dictates what is used as a middle name or how many or the order?    What about using two or more last names from both sides of the family?  How about Saints’ names?  Or the Southern custom of using  a family surname for a middle name and going by that instead of the more vanilla first name?

And if you feel like it, please share some of your real ones.    In my immediate family the middle names are  Biblical:   Asher, Isaiah, Ruth, Elizabeth, Jochebed (pronounced yō-‘HEH-but, Moses’ mother), Abraham.   Except for me.  My 1950s mom was assimilated in the fashion oand didn’t want to be ethnic, so it is Beth to honor my late grandmother, Beile (BAY-luh).

Are Bookstores Relevant?

by Lemon

I came across this opinion piece and was taken aback at the thought that Barnes & Noble may disappear. I love bookstores and love that there is a B&N five minutes from me. I often go with my kids so they can explore and find books that interest them. We’ve adapted to their changes (smaller store, much smaller kids section with no reading nooks or chairs to lose yourself in a book, and less staff), and it looks like we may have to adapt some more.

We are avid users of our library too but there is something about an outing to the bookstore that we love to do as family.

Would you be sad if Barnes and Noble closes? Do you think Amazon is to blame? Will you use the library more or seek out independent booksellers?

Make School Tougher to Improve Behavior?

by L

The calculus track can keep kids on the straight and narrow! Who’d’ve thought?

For those outside the paywall, the abstract of the original paper.

Previous studies have shown that years of formal schooling attained affects health behaviors, but little is known about how the stringency of academic programs affects such behaviors, especially among youth. Using national survey data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBS), we study the effects of mathematics and science high-school graduation requirements (HSGR) on high school students’ risky health behaviors–specifically on drinking, smoking, and marijuana use. We find that an increase in mathematics and science HSGR has significant negative impacts on alcohol consumption among high-school students, especially males and non-white students. The effects of math and science HSGR on smoking and marijuana use are also negative but generally less precisely estimated. Our results suggest that curriculum design may have potential as a policy tool to curb youth drinking.

Mémé’s comment:   The author of the NYT article completed the assignment, but  without saying in so many words conveys the impression that correlation is not causation in this case.   The study’s authors did account for the effects of increased standards on dropouts who are not counted, but they have made a less than half hearted attempt to explain anything else.

Open Thread

Topics for the rest of the week:




There will be a new Open Thread started on Memorial Day and  assigned topics for the rest of that week.      There is now a tentative full slate of posts for an entire month,  (Way to go!! )   The tentative schedule is adjusted on the fly to balance serious vs light, insert new submissions that enhance the set list,  and to push back any that duplicate a long tangential discussion.  The goal is to be fully scheduled for three-four weeks out at all times.

Just in case there is still confusion about submitting posts that include links to sites behind a paywall.    All submissions are welcome to either administrator.   If the link is behind a paywall (other than the NYT), please provide excerpts or a summary in the body of the post OR send me (Mémé) an email with a link I can access and I’ll do the work of selecting excerpts.      Some readers don’t choose to establish an email relationship at all, or want to stick with July only.    The Suggest Posts page is for everyone’s convenience.

Also, topics presented on Suggest Topics or via email ready to go as posts will likely end up in the queue earlier than a statement in the regular thread or on Suggest Topics along the lines of,  why don’t we have a post about x topic.

How to Maintain Sibling Relationships

by Lark

We frequently touch on our siblings, but have we discussed them in depth?

Do you have strong sibling relationships? What are you doing to foster strong sibling relationships among your kids? Could your parents have taken steps to make you closer to your siblings


Some tips from the article on how to repair/maintain relationships

Heal the past

The first step to establishing a healthy adult sibling relationship is to release baggage you’re carrying from childhood.

Share your goals

An easy topic to bond over is where you want to go in life, both in terms of this specific relationship and your overall goals.

Avoid contentious issues

When talking with your sibling, don’t bring up anything that could create strife, like politics, religion or even rehashing traumatic childhood memories. Accept that some topics will be off-limits

Don’t compare yourselves

“These comparisons people make as if they had it the same is really a lie,” Dr. Caspi said. “People don’t have it the same.” They have different experiences with different teachers and coaches and peers, all of which shape a person’s sense of self.

Verbalize your appreciation

Cultivate a friendship

2018 Politics Open Thread, May 20-26

I am sure there will be plenty to discuss this week.    Things are heating up internationally and domestically.

Submitted articles or thoughts that are political  or likely to stimulate oft repeated back and forth will be placed on the politics page as starters.  If you see what you  construe to be a  very liberal  topic starter, rest assured that soon after there will be a very conservative one, and vice versa.    Some weeks there will be no starter.     Next week is liberal, the week after conservative.     WCE is doing her part to help me out with sources.

Where would you choose to live in 1500?

by honolulumother

This post comes courtesy of my youngest, aka Tuxedo Boy.

If you were going to be sent back 500 years into the past to live but could choose the location, where do you think would be the best place to live?  You can keep your basic talents and personality, but you’re rolling the dice (or we’re drawing a Rawlsian veil of ignorance) as to your social class, sex, and race / ethnicity.  Alternatively, where do you think would be the worst place to live?
I chose China for my best place to live — they’re in the middle of the Ming dynasty so if I’m a peasant my crops aren’t so likely to be burned, and they promote based on civil service exams instead of who your parents are.  My worst place to live is the Aztec Empire.  It’s already the kind of place where they think nothing of sacrificing you and wearing your skin as a cape, and yet things are about to get significantly worse.
How about you?  Where would / wouldn’t you choose to live 500 years ago?

Paying For College

by Lark

We have a number of readers now whose kids are in college or heading off this fall. How’s the financial aspect been? Did you save enough? Have there been expenses you didn’t anticipate? How much are you requiring your kids to contribute, either to tuition or incidentals? If you could go back 5 years, is there anything you’d do differently financially?



by saacnmama

This is a very verbal group, and we are fortunate to have some great writers here. Whatever our level of writing skill, it’s clear that we all like words to some degree; how else would we stick with a group that communicates nearly exclusively in writing?  By this point, most of us have a good guess of the others’ ages. But stepping into the wayback machine, we may have deduced which generations others belong to partially based on vocabulary.

 Do you use any of these words, or have you used them in the past? I never slept on a Davenport or asked anyone about “tricks”, but I not only said “mood ring” and “pet rock”, I had them (a magic 8 ball and Twister too). I still catch myself asking someone to “roll” down a car window and referring to “tape”.
Of course, this is not a complete listing. And there are words the next generation may find embarrassing that we don’t see as problematic. Have you caught yourself using any of these words or phrases? Are there others you have consciously dropped?


by Mémé

“How does a word get into a dictionary? It gets in because we use it and we keep using it, and dictionary editors are paying attention to us. If you’re thinking, “But that lets all of us decide what words mean,” I would say, “Yes it does, and it always has.”Dictionaries are a wonderful guide and resource, but there is no objective dictionary authority out there that is the final arbiter about what words mean. If a community of speakers is using a word and knows what it means, it’s real. That word might be slangy, that word might be informal, that word might be a word that you think is illogical or unnecessary, but that word that we’re using, that word is real.”    

Anne Curzan

Link to ted talk on the subject

Have you adopted new words from your children, or colleagues, or social media?




Open Thread

Mémé:  I am trying out different ways to present articles that are behind paywalls.  I intend to pick out some choice sections and include them in the body of the post.  Feedback will be appreciated.  Most of the submissions so far are from the NYT, where I have a subscription, so I can fiddle around.   (I repeat my request for submissions from those of you who are regular readers of sites other than  NYT, WaPo, Vox, Slate.)    Be advised that I don’t pay for WSJ (no free articles), so I need some of the content provided via email or inserted into the body of the post so that I can share with the group.

July is planning to do some cleanup on the site. For now, Politics will stay as is.

There will  be 30 day challenges again.  My first reaction was that to enable maximum participation it may be best to wait until after summer vacation season.   However, there appears to be a movement for a fitness challenge in the near future.    So we will facilitate that for after Memorial Day.     I am not up to speed yet on how to set it all up.

Topic titles for the rest of the week are:




Resolutions for Parents of Grown Children

by Risley

From a January NYT article.

Resolution No. 1: Be as polite and uncritical as you would be with comparative strangers. I’ve been working on this one for years; it’s the one that encompasses the need to keep quiet about a child’s choice of attire or music or crush object, the way you would about a colleague’s. We are almost all of us able to refrain from needling the people we work with, the people we meet at parties, the people who ask us for directions on the street. It might not seem like a high bar to show that same level of fairly bland and often insincere courtesy toward children, instead of letting them know where there’s room for improvement, but it takes a lot of reminding and a lot of resolving.

Equal and opposite: Go ahead and be yourself every now and then; we’re all family here.

Resolution No. 2: Give grown-up children credit for being grown-up. They are more competent than you think. They manage perfectly well when you aren’t around. They solve problems, they manage their lives. If you seize on some convenient (and amusing) example of non — grown-up behavior (brought dirty laundry home, left the dirty dishes piled up on the counter), you are probably missing a plethora of quiet examples of a young adult navigating the world without making a big fuss about it.

Equal and opposite: Relish the fact that sometimes the whole point of coming home for grown-up kids is to stop being grown-up for a while.

Resolution No. 3: Don’t try to keep up too much of a good front; they’re old enough to know that their parents are human. Part of helping our children navigate adult life is often admitting things to them which we might have kept quieter when they were young: jobs are difficult and sometimes frustrating, long-term relationships have their ups and downs, parents are vulnerable and fallible and often confused, just like everyone else. The truth is, of course, that our children come to know us very well as they grow up, and they are unlikely to be shocked, or even mildly surprised, by our faults — but acknowledging those faults with an increasing degree of rueful honesty is a way of acknowledging our children as equals.

Equal and opposite: Don’t tell them what they don’t want to know.

Resolution No. 4: Don’t track them too closely. This one plays out in so many ways, from the message-me-that-you-got-home-safe requests to the less than subtle ways that I have tried to extract details of not only my own children’s health and well-being, but also the health and well-being of their friends and roommates. I tell myself that my motives are good, whether parental or pediatric, but the truth is, I would have deeply resented any such intrusiveness on the part of my own parents. When your children grow up, you should track less and let them tell you what they want to tell you.

Equal and opposite: Just tell them: Message me that you got home safe. I’m your mother. I won’t be able to go to sleep myself till I know you’re O.K.

Here is a link to the whole article:

Note:   Next Monday the topic, suggested by Lark, will be  Maintaining Relationships with your Siblings, so the general discussion of adult family dynamics will have a second chapter.


2018 Politics Open Thread, May 13-19

WCE suggested this WSJ article on Ben Carson’s proposals for HUD rent increases.  It is behind the paywall, so I reproduce it in its entirety.

The rationale for Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on Poverty” was that the government should take a more active role in helping people get on their feet. Today the federal government is more active than ever in this regard, but whether its efforts are truly helping is debatable.

Ben Carson, a former neurosurgeon who now runs the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, understands that often the best way for the government to help the poor is by getting out of their way. In an interview Monday, Mr. Carson explained to me how some of America’s federal rental-assistance programs have become barriers to upward mobility by effectively discouraging work, marriage and other behaviors that tend to help people advance economically.

“We have stagnation,” Mr. Carson said. “We have people in public housing not for a few years but for a few generations, with no incentive to come out.” In New York City, which has the nation’s largest public-housing system, the average tenant has been there for almost 20 years. “We’re trying to get people out of chronic poverty.”

Many of Mr. Carson’s critics are more interested in defending a status quo that keeps poor people dependent on government aid. HUD is urging Congress to pass legislation allowing local public-housing authorities, among other things, to impose work requirements and reduce red tape. In public housing, the more money you make, the more you pay in rent. The incentives couldn’t be more perverse, often leading people to hide income or work less.

William Russell, the head of the public-housing authority in Sarasota, Fla., who testified before a congressional subcommittee last month, told me that his biggest frustration is how the system discourages families from increasing their incomes. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to explain to someone, who’s gotten a job and their income has gone up, that now their rent has to go up,” he said. “And they don’t understand how this makes any sense.” Mr. Russell worked at HUD during the George W. Bush administration and was a New York City housing official in the 1990s.

In the real world, two-parent households have clear economic advantages, since everything from child care to transportation to housing costs is shared. But in the world created by federal rental-assistance guidelines, people think differently. In a typical scenario, Mr. Russell told me, the significant other comes over at night and then sneaks out the next morning to avoid detection by the housing officials. “That sets up a horrible dynamic between us and our families,” he said. “The truth is, I want more fathers and men to be in the community, living there and being active in their kids’ lives and offering more stability in general. This current policy is holding back our families.”

Mr. Carson aims to change this dynamic. HUD’s proposals are based on successes in places like Atlanta; San Diego; Charlotte, N.C.; and Cambridge, Mass. Under a federal program initiated in 1996 and expanded in 2015, around 140 of the nation’s 3,400 public-housing agencies have gained the freedom to tailor rental-assistance policies to local needs. Since San Diego implemented its program under the new guidelines in 2013, tenant incomes have increased 25%, according to the city’s housing commission. Mr. Carson wants to give more housing authorities similar flexibility.

The most controversial part of HUD’s proposal would raise monthly rents for people receiving federal housing subsidies. They would pay 35% of gross income instead of the current 30%. The plan would also triple the minimum monthly rent for the poorest households to $150. Naturally, liberals have pounced. Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, called the proposal “immoral” and “the latest example of the Trump administration’s war on poor people.” Calm down.

The reality is that about half of the 4.7 million families on rental assistance would be unaffected by the changes. The elderly and disabled are exempt, and additional carve-outs are available for financial hardship, such as a death in the family or the loss of employment. About 712,000 households on housing subsidies would have their monthly rents raised to $150, according to HUD. Mr. Carson told me that the rent increase was necessitated by budget constraints. The last time Congress increased rents was 1981, when they rose to 30% of income from 25% for the same reason.

Mr. Carson said he wishes rents didn’t have to rise but thinks the proposal is still a net plus for participants. He also stressed that this is the beginning of a legislative process and that he’s open to hearing ideas from Democrats on how to make the housing program more effective and sustainable.

“We’re all ears,” he said. So far, he’s heard only jeers.