Open Thread and Admin Change

Jby Mémé

Next Monday, July will take over as primary administrator.   Topics this week are:

Wed  –  The American Dream   (Finn)

Th –       Kids’ Internet Use  (tcmama)

Fri –       Favorite Limericks   (WCE)

The Old Site was originally a workplace diversion, allowable to many of us because it was on the WSJ website AND because back then we spent lots of dead time on butt-in-seat conference calls.   We migrated to The Totebag as our work and personal lives changed.   We are spread out over many time zones.     And of course, the “regulars” are a shrinking, not a growing community, although we do have a lot of wonderful lurkers who post from time to time and have sent in a few topics this year.

As a novice admin I did put in a lot of time, more than is really necessary.  July is not only more conservative politically than I, she is more laid back and doesn’t mind some of the comments I find unacceptable.   Her touch will be lighter at the helm.    We make a good team, which was most evident in the resolution to the privacy and retention issues on which we initially held views at opposite ends of the continuum.

The most frustrating aspect of my six months was the general lack of group interest in topics with substantive content.    I was even admonished not to use submissions from certain contributors because they were too boring.   Heartfelt posts from personal experience and serious ones usually generated very little direct on topic discussion.     Part of that is because we are not checking in as frequently in the way we did when tied to a desk.     Part may be due to the same problem that any workplace lunchroom or kaffeklatsch has – if there is no immediate interest in a topic what remains are variants on the same conversation day after day.     And there are few or no new voices joining in.

After all these years, I wonder if in The Totebag’s present 6-day a week format the juice is still worth the squeeze.    Perhaps we could cut back to Politics on Sun plus 3 posts during the week, say a Monday general interest topic , a family/education topic on Wed,  a lighthearted topic on Friday.    Readers would continue to bring up other topics, ask for advice,  and check in,  just as we do now.    We could try out “threading.”   Or perhaps we could just autopost this on the other two weekdays:

 

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147 thoughts on “Open Thread and Admin Change

  1. Perhaps we could cut back to Politics on Sun plus 3 posts during the week, say a Monday general interest topic ,

    Is it possible to automate a twice weekly “Talk amongst yourselves” post to fill the gap? I think there are people who have things they want to talk about but they don’t feel like sending in a post. With these posts people can just kick off the conversation with anything they want to talk about on a given day.

  2. And there are few or no new voices joining in.

    I think this is the crux of the issue.

    Is it possible to automate a twice weekly “Talk amongst yourselves” post to fill the gap? I think there are people who have things they want to talk about but they don’t feel like sending in a post. With these posts people can just kick off the conversation with anything they want to talk about on a given day.

    I think just not having new topics everyday would be fine. That way we could just continue the previous day’s conversation without starting a new thread and then having to bounce between them to check on them.

  3. Rhett – I like that idea.

    I also miss a lot of the old regulars. Did they all leave when the legal question came up?

  4. And of course, the “regulars” are a shrinking, not a growing community,

    Does anyone have any ideas for bringing in some new blood? Maybe including a link in other blogs that would be a good fit? A little viral marketing?

  5. “I think just not having new topics everyday would be fine. That way we could just continue the previous day’s conversation without starting a new thread and then having to bounce between them to check on them.”

    Agreed.

    I have mixed feelings about the lack of “new blood” so to speak. I always get a little excited when I see a new name or an infrequent contributor posting something interesting – it’s great for reinvigorating the conversation. But I also would be less apt to share certain things if it really became a free-for-all like a major newspaper forum. And yes, I know this is in no way private as it is. But it is limited in scope in a way that the old WSJ site was not.

  6. I agree the lack of “new” blood is hurting. We all know where we all stand on many of the issues. I also agree that not having new topics everyday would be fine. I think the MWF posting could work well with open threads the other days.

    I wonder if it’s also that our news or sources of fodder have changed over the last 6-10 years. I find that much of the regular sources have many of the same articles (or same style). Nothing new to have an opinion on. The only “new” things to be from the political side.

    I’ve also come to the conclusion that what I find interest is rarely what everyone else finds interesting. Like this article: https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2018/09/25/651466068/maine-asks-restaurant-to-stop-giving-lobsters-cannabis-before-boiling-them

    (1) someone actually thought to do this!
    (2) did they tell their customers (could you get secondary contact, or is it cooked out?)
    (2) this kind of scares me – as someone with severe allergies, does the cooking process remove the allergen (if someone were allergic to cannabis)?

  7. “But I also would be less apt to share certain things if it really became a free-for-all like a major newspaper forum. And yes, I know this is in no way private as it is. But it is limited in scope in a way that the old WSJ site was not.”

    This is a very good point… but doesn’t that make us our own bubble? (aside from the general Totebag bubble)

  8. I think the MWF posting could work well with open threads the other days.

    Why not just continue the previous day’s thread rather than starting a new one?

    I’ve also come to the conclusion that what I find interest is rarely what everyone else finds interesting.

    Aside from college admissions, travel, and recipes, I don’t think there are a whole lot of shared interests here.

  9. People here want to obsess about SAT scores, college admissions, etc. I can appreciate Mémé’s point of view on that, since my own stepson is 30 and well out of that phase. But telling people they can’t talk about it, when that’s what they want to talk about, results in the “substantive” topics getting no traction.

  10. I don’t think there are a whole lot of shared interests here.

    Personal finance? Real estate?

  11. I agree that letting a post run more than a day is fine. Some days I am not reading the post until the next morning and think that I am sorry I missed yesterday’s topic.

    I am wondering if Rhett’s lobster post isn’t a category: News of the Weird (a category of a local weekly here).

    I have had a couple of post thoughts, but then not time to write them up.

  12. Meme, thanks for bringing this topic up. I also like the idea of a twice weekly “Talk amongst yourselves” post.

    Sometimes I just don’t make the time to comment on posts even if I find them interesting. And sometimes I shy away because I feel like commenting something that would be too political. That’s actually what happened for the last post I submitted.

  13. I agree that 3 days a week of posts are just fine. I, too, have noted the drop off in the number of participants on our daily topics.

  14. Austin – I would gladly submit “news of the weird” articles all the time. They will probably have a marine slant to them because that’s just me.

    Meme – yes, a thousand thank yous. I love coming here and see what’s up. I may not participate, but I do enjoy reading.

  15. OK, you guys are depressing me. I think I have told you before that I have been on a particular closed mommy mailing list since my oldest was a few months old. That is 18 years now. It is a closed list, so there is no new blood. Some people have fallen off over the years, though many stayed in touch by FB. In the beginning we were discussing nursing our babies while working. Now, we talk about college searches and health problems. Recently, we learned that a fallen-off member had died suddenly, leaving behind a husband and two teenagers. We did something we have done several times to comfort members – we all contributed a meaningful fabric squares with our signatures and messages. and one of the several quilters put together a memory blanket and sent it to the family. The lack of new blood never hurt that list because it is a community.

  16. I am new- sort of! I used to read the Juggle when I was a new overwhelmed mom and FT worker. I’ve commented on this site before under a different name, but it was a couple of years ago at least. On a whim, it crossed my mind. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it’s still active!

  17. I have posted less for 2 reasons. One was that legal issue – it was a good reminder to me that although this feels like a close/closed group, it is not. And I do value my privacy quite a bit. And the other is I’ve just been busier at work over the past year – huge professional success for me and sort of a shame that part 1 (privacy) keeps me from talking more about it. But sometimes by the time I can check in on a topic and have some thoughts/contributions, everyone has moved on. Yesterday is a great example.

    I do love hearing about folks’ lives, though, and what y’all are up to. I wish people here would brag more about their kids, their grandkids, their spouses, their jobs, and vent more about their kids, their grandkids, their spouses, their jobs. Went to sleep last night after reading yesterday’s comments wondering why L’s husband doesn’t go to soccer games. Finds them boring? Spends the time doing house projects while everyone’s out of the house? Rebelling against family life? I am endlessly curious about decisions people make.

  18. I absolutely LOVE the News of the Weird idea! And thank you for sharing that article, Rhode – I love stuff like that, and I totally missed it.

    I think part of it is that things that used to be more mundane turn political/heated more quickly than they used to, and that keeps some topics more quiet. It’s hard to find the right balance between talking about substantiative topics and the “take it to the political page” type discussion.

    @MM – I agree that part of what you lose with more of a free for all like the WSJ site is the feeling of community. That’s why although I’d welcome some more voices joining in more regularly, I’m more iffy about any broad push to add a lot of new people at once.

    Some of my favorite posts aren’t necessarily about shared interests, but hearing stories/thoughts from people who are in different parts of the country or life stages or careers or all of the above. And I my interests are pretty mundane – middle-brow TV/movies/books, pop economics/finance podcasts, cooking/restaurants/gardening, fashion/beauty, local and national politics, Dad Rock, etc. I know there are plenty of people here who like at least some of those things because we’ve talked about it!

  19. Mooshi, that works for your group because it’s a different thing. DW and I part of a similar community – it started on a message board and now it’s on FB, and it’s closed at this point as well. But it still works great because it’s not for daily chit chat – it’s for support, sharing good news (even college acceptances :) ), questions you don’t feel comfortable asking anywhere else, etc. So often a week or more goes by without anyone posting anything.

    With a blog like this where you have daily chitchat, you need new participants to keep things fresh and interesting. I agree with Ivy that it wouldn’t work with a bunch of random people coming in, but getting even 5 more regular participants would pick things up a lot.

  20. Rhode, sorry I attributed the lobster post to Rhett!

    Many, many thanks to our totebag admins.

  21. Looking for help.

    Does anyone have recommendations for a weighted blanket. I’d like to stay around $ 250 – $ 300.

    I’m looking at Costco’s Vitamix. Alot of people panned it and said it wasn’t as good as it used to be. Has anyone bought one recently?

    Also, I’m thinking of buying an Oreck vacuum – any thoughts?

  22. Also, I’m thinking of buying an Oreck vacuum

    Would you ever consider a Roomba? It’s the best thing ever.

  23. Old Mom: No recommendations, but please comment on if you like your weighted blanket after you get one.

  24. Houston – this is a Christmas present for my daughter, so it will be a while before I can comment. A weighted blanket would be a nightmare for me.

  25. Meme, thank you. I appreciate the effort you made to get new topics.

    I really miss some of the regulars and I’m still angry that several people left after that incident.

    I recently bought a Vitamix. I read a lot of reviews, blogs and watched videos. I was looking for best value with the most features. I don’t need super high end because I’m not that type of cook. I won’t use it enough. Every single review or blogger talked about the value of refurbished and how Vitamix stands behind the product.

    I found a great sale in October on the refurbished price and it was only $249 for a G series so I bought one. I really like it, and it doesn’t look or seem used. All of the containers, booklets, etc are brand new. I bought mine directly on the Vitamix web site, but Sur La Table and other retailers had the same price. Other refurbished models are on the Vitamix web site.

  26. Etsy is a great source for weighted blankets, but I don’t have any personal recommendations.

    I have an oreck and a plastic plate that holds the bag on is cracked (trust me, I’m not a heavy vacuumed). I’m sure it can be fixed, but really don’t have bandwidth for that. Not as bomb proof as I would have expected for the price.

  27. Rhett – I had a Roomba and it was pretty good. I have two dogs and they shed like crazy. I would have to clean it out 3 or better times. The only vacuum that stood up to their hair was the Dyson pet vacuum we bought 12/26/04. Trouble with the Dyson is its weight. With my RA it is too heavy.

  28. I would have to clean it out 3 or better times.

    The latest version drives back to the base and dumps the bin contents in a hopper.

  29. Would you ever consider a Roomba? It’s the best thing ever.

    We have one and it’s pretty useless because it gets stuck all the freaking time. For the amount of time I have to spend blocking off everything it will get stuck on, I could just vacuum myself. Some of the places it gets stuck:

    – The top of the stairs – it will stop on the edge rather than moving in another direction
    – furniture with a low shelf – it fits enough to get stuck and can’t get out
    – shoelaces
    – power cords

    It also has difficulty getting into tight spaces, even ones that are big enough for it to fit.

  30. This has been a good if tiring week for this sports household. Tomorrow morning I am going into town on public transit to the season ticket holder portion of the duck boat parade – they line up the vehicles and we get admitted to Fenway for speeches and send off.

    We don’t gamble, but last week DH went to the wrapup dinner of his old man’s rotisserie league (he is usually in the money, but not this year), and the winner instead of buying the first round gave out football cards to everyone. DH chose the 4 games he wanted to bet, and informed me he was taking the Pats even giving 14 against the Bills, which I would not have done, but needed my help on the outcome for the other three. So last night despite the WS hangover we had to watch to the last play and he was justified. Of course that means all of my picks (Saints, Eagles, Skins) covered on Sunday. He promised to split the winnings with me.

  31. Since this is an open thread, I had an issue last night with SO that left me wondering a bit about whether this is foreshadowing of mental decline. SO’s background is physics and math.

    This relates to a solar panel purchase that SO spearheaded to have installed a couple of years ago. He was looking at this month’s bill and I agree it is presented in less than a customer-friendly way, but the city has tried to adopt a simple approach. It was this approach he had a hard time figuring out. Their approach is to charge you for all the electricity you consumed (call whole house consumption) just like they would if you had no solar panels. Then, they reduce that total by the amount that they pay you for all the solar power you generate.

    He could not glean this on his own and got stuck at the beginning of trying to figure out the relationship between the amount of solar generated & used and the whole house consumption. This is:
    1. The total amount you generated – the amount you transferred to the grid (city) = amount generated and used.
    2. The whole house consumption = the amount the city provided + the amount you generated and used.

    Not getting this first part, led him down a rabbit trail to where he couldn’t see the overall picture. He did finally come to see it, but it took 30+ minutes to get there. Other detailed parts of the discussion were on point, such as where in the bill calculation they applied the fees and taxes and why applying it in a different place would be fairer.

  32. Speaking of cleaning in tight spaces, my newest hobby is deep cleaning my baseboards and trim with this heavenly tool set. I do a little at a time, and it’s so satisfying to see the results – white and gleaming. Regular vacuuming and wiping just don’t get out the grime in all the nooks and crannies. I’m Magic erasing the walls at the same time. I may not need to repaint some of these rooms!

  33. Austin, I would be concerned. I would be concerned about the general level of apathy he’s displayed over the last few years, too. Could it be depression? What meds is he on? Are any of them implicated in mental confusion?

  34. Thanks to Meme. and July for their hard work. I am a very frequent lurker but infrequent poster. And I have been lurking since TOS days. It seems to me over all this time that the regulars just like to respond to the regulars. Anytime I have posted, and I notice this with other infrequent posters, those posts rarely get responded to. I don’t think this is meant to be exclusionary, but not knowing anything about the poster seems to foster this. Not sure what the cure is.

  35. You have it vacuuming in your closets?

    We put our shoes in a corner of the family room right by the garage door. The nearest closet is through the house and up a flight of stairs. It makes much more sense to leave them by the door than to track dirt through the house.

  36. Not sure what the cure is.

    Probably for regular posters to respond more to the infrequent ones.

  37. I agree 100% with RMS. I would investigate, in this order, depression, side effects of meds, cognitive impairment. But it is also true that it gets harder to deal with change or new things as a natural part of aging. With my DH, I know that the first two plus medical issues plus normal age-related decline account for most of his sluggishness. But for him it is exacerbated by overdoing and insufficient rest, not by withdrawal/apathy.

  38. RMS – I think there is some depression in the mix. He has zero tolerance for that idea. I need to look at his meds again. He went to the doctor recently and I know at least one was changed, but I think he said it was just a dosage reduction.

  39. anon for this –
    I agree with DD part of the “cure” is for regulars to respond. I will note that when I only come in later in the day, I tend to scan the comments quickly and either respond in a general way or only pick out the one I think I have something to add that hasn’t already been said.

  40. Responding to anon for this, I find that even some of the regulars post less often and certainly offer topics less often if they don’t get replies or some other acknowledgement of their comments/posts. That is part of the reason I as admin probably overstepped the bounds, as RMS mentioned, in asking for fewer college comments. It takes a little bit of “white space” around a comment for folks to register it and consider a response. If it is just buried in the flow of one of our 5 usual tangent subjects, it may not be noticed at all.

  41. @Cubs fan – Welcome! The Ivy of my handle is “that” Ivy. ;) I have noticed the cliquishness at DS’s school a bit too. I agree that I am more interested in directing my time/energy to my old friends. So I am friendly but not aggressively looking for friends. So far it seems okay as far as DS having friends/play dates goes.

  42. Anon for this, I agree with your comment that the regulars prefer to respond to the regulars. Every once in a while I venture into posting, but I find it hard to get integrated into the discussion. However, there is one particular regular who I have found makes an effort to respond to posts that have otherwise been ignored, and I appreciate it!

    I do think that holding over posts for multiple days will help to bring in a wider range of posters. I often read the blog at night and don’t bother contributing my thoughts as I figure I’ve missed out on most of the discussion.

  43. Anon for this, I agree with your comment that the regulars prefer to respond to the regulars. Every once in a while I venture into posting, but I find it hard to get integrated into the discussion

    Thank you very much for letting us know that this is an issue.

    I often read the blog at night and don’t bother contributing my thoughts as I figure I’ve missed out on most of the discussion.

    Finn, being in HI, always chimes in toward the end of the day and the conversation starts up again. I think if you chime in any time you’ll get a response.

  44. If you lurkers could pick a slightly descriptive name, I think sometimes that helps. It doesn’t have to be very revealing. Just a little clue, something a little more than “anon”.

  45. Well, I don’t generally post under the name “Lurker”! I choose that name for this post because I don’t want all my posts going forward to be associated with “that’s the person who was complaining that we don’t respond to lurkers”.

  46. Welcome cubs fan. Anon – thanks for letting us know. I will try to be conscious of that.

    Weighted blanket – every bed in our house has one from lifetime sensory solutions. I bought one for one person and everyone tried it out and wanted one for themselves. I generally like it, and I do believe I sleep better with it. But I’m a 53-year-old woman and for the love of all that is holy I get hot at night! For me, when I get too hot I throw up. (TMI, I know). So when I wake up and I’m hot, I’m trying to kick off all the blankets and it is comical the difficulty I have some times going from a dead sleep to trying to get that stupid blanket off of me. That is a very one-off problem that probably will not apply to most of you. Everyone else in my house is very fond of their blankets

  47. Thanks, Meme and July, for your continued work!

    I would also welcome some new blood. Anon for this, Cubs Fan, and Lurker, welcome!!! :) Maybe most of us are so used to responding to a name, that we may not remember to respond to ‘unnamed’ comments?

  48. I’ve noticed that most comments don’t get specifically responded to, period, some comments will have one or two specific responses and maybe a short conversation between two or three posters, and a handful of comments will get a bunch of responses and may change the whole direction of the conversation. So for any one comment, getting no specific response is normal. However, that doesn’t mean the ones that aren’t responded to are being ignored. I know for myself, I’ll read the whole comment thread, even if I may not have anything to add by the time I finish it, or don’t have the time to comment just then.

    So keep posting! I promise, we’re reading, and even if no one seems to respond that doesn’t mean we’re uninterested or you’re unwelcome. And if you keep posting, inevitably you’ll end up with more response than you want on some offhand remark or other.

  49. For me, when I get too hot I throw up.

    When I get too hot at night, I dream that I’m trapped in a fire. It’s so common that I even wind up thinking (in my dream) “oh, I’m trapped in a fire in my dream, I must be hot, I’d better wake up.”

  50. To add to what I said above (responding to oneself is one way to get a response!), when I say I read the whole comment thread, I mean I read it *and especially notice and am interested to see what a new or infrequent commenter has to say.*

  51. Rhett – I would LOVE that contraption. The problem is the other person in the bed already claims to be freezing with the house at 69 degrees.

    Becky – I wish it were confined solely to ‘at night’. I was recently at an office where I was unfortunately leading the meeting. I got so hot so fast, I almost couldn’t think about what to say next.

  52. Our solution, as I’ve mentioned before, is that Mr. Freezing gets his own twin-size electric blanket, and I sleep under just a sheet.

  53. I’m in favor of whatever makes life easier for the admins. Open threads work for me. And many, many thanks to Meme and July! I do enjoy this site.

    I post/check-in less than I used to because work has gotten much busier. Ugh.

    I do like seeing new people responding to items. I don’t always respond I’m often reading the blog later in the day or a day afterwards.

    Becky – I’ve been debating whether to get a weighted blanket. I think I would like it except that I also now get very hot at night. Maybe if these damn night-time hot flashes ever go away, I’ll get one.

  54. I generally don’t respond directly to posters. I also rarely check if people are responding to me.

    I do mention specific posters when someone asks a question. For example, vitamix question. I’m not choosing to ignore posters. I generally just come to read and dump my own thoughts out there.

  55. Rhett – I would LOVE that contraption. The problem is the other person in the bed already claims to be freezing with the house at 69 degrees.

    You could do German style covers where each person gets their own duvet.

  56. Yes my spouse is also always freezing. I’ve pointed out that being hot makes me so cranky that he may prefer to just layer up and deal with the more lovable version of me. He has many more blankets on his side. He was right next to me one night and commented that I was like a furnace, so is much more sympathetic now. And Rhett – THANK YOU – omg that looks like heaven to me.

  57. Yes, Becky – I have noted that when I am hot, I am cranky plus when I am hot, I don’t sleep well, which makes me crankier. He no longer suggests that the temperature should be changed. He has a heated mattress pad ( dual controlled, that he uses irregularly) and usually 3 cats curled up along his back and legs.

  58. Were any of you who run hot now previously cold-blooded? I ask because I am ALWAYS cold and am wondering if that will change with The Change. ;)

  59. L – Yes, I used to be the one who had on 14 sweaters while SO had on short sleeves. I warmed up slowly, working to where we agreed on the temperature, but then I just kept going.

  60. I also think willingness to get into more interesting sharing and opinion could be helped by a draconian purge policy. I am one who stopped contributing after the legal kerfuffle. (But i stil, read and enjoy, so thanks!)

  61. I remember that the first time I posted after lurking for ages Finn responded to me and it did encourage me to keep trying. It can feel intimidating to jump in, and if no one responds, it can feel like the cool kids just want to talk to each other. I’m glad Cubs Fan and Lurker and Anon gave it a try today and I hope we’ll be hearing more from them.
    Many thanks, Meme and July, for all your work on this blog.
    And I’d love some Rhode’s Weird Sealife type posts!

  62. To all who asked about personal temperatures. I have always been hot. My best temperature for sleeping is 65-66 with a fan on. If my husband gets up during the night, he shuts the fan off. Within 10 to 15 minutes I wake up, go to the living room, sit with a fan pointed at me and try to cool down. Depending on the time, I may go back to bed and I turn the fan back and pull the covers around my husband’s shoulders.

    Menopause was a nightmare for my family. Everyone complained it was to cold in the house. I explained they could all put on more clothes while I only wore a light weight cotton caftan with nothing underneath – their choice they wear more or I take off.

  63. L, I was always cold and am still always cold. DH wants to take an Iceland trip and I can’t even fathom voluntarily going into that environment.

  64. I also think willingness to get into more interesting sharing and opinion could be helped by a draconian purge policy.

    I’m 100% behind that if it makes people feel more comfortable.

  65. I’m feeling a bit clueless here, but what would a “draconian purge policy” look like?

    You all make a good point that acknowledgements of some kind to comments encourage further participation. I’d love to see Cubs Fan, anon, Lurker, and others participate more in our conversations.

  66. The current purge policy is 4 mos plus current month retention. We two admins were not of the same mind initially, but the poll showed that those contributors who chose to respond were pretty much divided 50-50 between short and long. So we ended up on the shorter end, but not all the way to “draconian”.

  67. Love the idea of keeping a post open for an extra day, as I am often one of those people who can’t read every day and when I get to an interesting post a day later no one else is commenting so I don’t bother. It feels like being the younger sibling calling “you guys, wait for me!”

    DD, respectfully disagree that there aren’t many shared interests here. I nearly drooled over July’s brushes that clean baseboards. I have learned a lot from y’all.

    And risking TMI on the temperature, I was one of those formerly freezing people who has stayed freezing. I had hot flashes for about two weeks in August and nothing since. Nada. Is that normal? Did I really get out of it that easily, or is there something terrible fate awaiting me later?

  68. My personal (speaking as a contributor, not with admin hat) preference is for 1 mo plus current mo, plus some more voluntary contribution permanent pages such as the travel page. I think that qualifies as draconian. We also have managed to stay in existence without a requirement that a valid email address be given to control participation, which assists with anonymity.

  69. Regarding temperature, I have always been hot. The main annoyance of menopause was the occasional cold interval. My house as a young mom was so cold the hamsters went into winter stasis (not sure it is technically hibernation). DH has a temp range of 70-74, so I just wear summer sleeveless all year round in the house.

  70. Meme and July, thanks for all you do. Any purge or topic frequency policy that satisfies the most folks is fine with me. I appreciate reading even when I don’t comment, and am finding that it is harder to keep up when I’m not near a desktop. There are an increasing number of ads on the iPhone/Safari version of this site, including an annoying top bar that lacks an “x” to close it and further reduces the amount of visible text.
    In addition to the travel suggestions, it would be nice also to have a place to find books, binge-worthy TV, and podcast recommendations. This group has been a terrific source in that regard.

  71. Finn, being in HI, always chimes in toward the end of the day and the conversation starts up again

    Another reason to just keep the previous day’s post going rather than starting a new open thread.

    DD, respectfully disagree that there aren’t many shared interests here. I nearly drooled over July’s brushes that clean baseboards. I have learned a lot from y’all.

    I meant that there aren’t a lot of topics that interest the majority of posters. There are plenty of topics that a few posters have shared interests in, like Rhett and Milo with boats. But maybe I’m wrong.

  72. I have no interest in boats (giant cruise ships excluded) and would never in a million years be tempted to buy a boat. I get seasick so even being on a boat on a small lake is a horrible time for me. That being said, I love when Milo and anyone else talks about boats. I like learning about things, even if I don’t have any applicable use for the information.

  73. My recollection of ToS was there was a lot of discussion of day to day stuff, and that carried over to here. E.g., I seem to recall that our laundry posts generated a lot of discussion.

    Cars and remodeling are other topics that, IIRC, have generated a lot of discussion.

  74. Thanks to Meme and July for keeping us all together. I’m one of the regulars who dropped off (because of work demands, not for any of-related reason) so I defer to the group on the posting schedule, topics, etc.

  75. “I have had a couple of post thoughts, but then not time to write them up.”

    This happens to me a lot, and then I forget them before I have a chance to send them in.

    I encourage you to throw them out on open thread days, or after 4pm on regular thread days, especially if we go to a MWF schedule.

  76. My thanks to Mémé for her efforts to keep this going.

    BTW, has my half-cookie post been passed to July?

  77. “Would you ever consider a Roomba? It’s the best thing ever.”

    A friend related to me that he’s gone through several Roombas. What kills them is hair, but he likes them enough that he keeps replacing them as they die. That would be a big problem for us; both DW and DD have a lot of long hair.

    We have a Mint, which is sort of like a cross of a Roomba and a Swiffer, and uses Swiffter refills. That design seems to make it largely impervious to the sort of hair-induced failure to which the Roombas are susceptible.

  78. Finn, she has copies of all emailed post suggestions and others that are not still on Suggest topics . I actually prepped drafts pending July’s review on the WordPress admin page from a few contributors, including you, to give her some things in the pipeline after Friday.

  79. “This relates to a solar panel purchase that SO spearheaded to have installed a couple of years ago. “

    Congrats on the solar panel purchase!! Welcome to the club heretofore consisting of DD and me. How many panels?

    I’m currently investigating the addition of more PV capacity to support our plug-in hybrid. After we got our PV system, the local PUC closed the net metering window, so we may need to add a second system, as opposed to augmenting our existing system.

  80. I’m one of the lurkers who rarely posts. I came over from TOS. I really do enjoy reading the Totebag and have learned a lot over the years. I will try to post more. My challenge is that I usually read at work and it can be hard to keep up with the conversation while trying to be productive.

  81. My challenge is that I usually read at work and it can be hard to keep up with the conversation while trying to be productive.

    Oh, well, see, trying to remain productive was your first mistake.

  82. Longtime lurker here, too, and infrequent poster, occasionally under other names. I always intend to post more often, but I’m time-zone challenged, and by the time I get to posting, everyone else has gone to bed. I know I can leave a comment for the morning shift to take over, but I’ll be asleep for any responses, so it usually seems pointless. Also, someone else far smarter than me frequently has already commented with exactly the point I would have made. Oh, and I’m a little wigged out about privacy and would definitely support the draconian purge.

    Often I’m tempted to jump into the political post, but I’m too afraid of being attacked by particular posters who I can just imagine would be demanding I back up my post with sources. Ain’t got time for that kind of research and back-and-forth, so I stay quiet. And I’m also afraid of having my grammar, spelling. etc. attacked. Maybe there could be some kind of non-contact jersey that infrequent contributors could wear??

    One suggestion for increasing participation would be to make more frequent use of the polling feature. I think a lot of lurkers are quite willing to click on a poll even if they never make a post. I recall a poll some months back on frequency of (ahem), and the results were dismal but fascinating — I think there were around a thousand votes, IIRC.

    I also have learned so much from all of you, and am grateful for the discussions, even on topics I didn’t think I would ever have interest in (boats, watches, solar power, etc. etc.) Many, many thanks to July/Meme for their ongoing service to all.

  83. Oh, well, see, trying to remain productive was your first mistake.

    You literally word for word took the words out of my mouth.

  84. but I’m too afraid of being attacked by particular posters who I can just imagine would be demanding I back up my post with sources.

    I promise I won’t! I’ll just post evidence to the countrary if it exists.

  85. Hi again! Long f-ing day at work coupled with taking DS1 to a gymnastics class.

    Welcome to the new blood!

    BigPassport – you’ve nailed the reason I don’t really participate in the political page. I’m a scientist, so I always require evidence, and I can’t not post evidence. I don’t have the time! Though I’d love to learn.

    Austin – don’t worry about the mis-attribution. It happens quite frequently actually… unintended consequence of Rhett’s suggestion of my new(ish) handle.

    Weird News – I’ll do my best to get July and Meme some articles. I found a few more in the spirit of Halloween. I usually look in the morning, find 3-5 articles to read at lunch and save them.

    So now on my long day – I have a colleague that is (purposefully?) making life painful for my boss and me. And she did it again. Every decision my boss (who is also her boss) is wrong. And every time I should say something to defend myself it appears like I’m defending my boss and it’s 2 against 1. If we could get a director in place (1+ year now) this could be solved. Because of our missing director, I was asked to step up to take on some of those duties. It appears she wasn’t asked the same.

    On bragging – I can’t tell if DS is being more compliant and listening better because he’s sick, but the last 2 weeks at gymnastics were actually good. He’s listening to me, following instructions, and catching himself when he’s going to lose it. Progress? Still too afraid to call it because I don’t want to jinx it.

  86. Another mostly-lurker who has been reading since TOS days. I’m going to try to post more, because I’ve come to really value the advice I’ve gotten here over the years, and I’d like to keep it going!

  87. “I’m time-zone challenged, and by the time I get to posting, everyone else has gone to bed.”

    Even HM and me?

    Well, IIRC, at one time we had a regular poster in Singapore.

  88. “And I’m also afraid of having my grammar, spelling. etc. attacked.”

    I hope my comments aren’t construed as attacks.

    Other than our brief experiment with edginess, I try to limit them to when I see humor that I’d like to share. After all, my superpower is being able to read what people write, which is not necessarily what they meant.

    Granted, not everyone shares my sense of humor, but that’s the intent.

  89. Finn, and this is meant in the kindest possible way, you may hope that your nitpicking is not construed as an attack, but that is not much of a defense when someone has just used the word attack to describe it.

  90. It makes me smile to see some of the less frequent posters today (and I have always loved the handle “Nap” – one of my favorite activities.

    BigPassport – it doesn’t matter if you are sort of repeating. It has your spin & who doesn’t like it when someone agrees with them on The Totebag! I do agree with you on the political page. I do like to hear different points of view that are unique more than I like to read researched partisan talking points though. I like it when people have a special expertise or insight in the topic too.

  91. L – I always ran cold (except for when I was pregnant) until about a year or so ago. During the day, it’s actually nice not to be cold all the time and I don’t have too many daytime hot flashes (one or two every couple months). At night though is a different story. Argh. I used to be the one bundled up in blankets and now I’m the one with just a sheet.

    Also hot flashes and night sweats etc. are so unfair. After 35 years of dealing with periods, birth control etc., there should be a reward. Like getting to eat all the chocolate you want and still fit into your pants. It shouldn’t be punishment “that’s right – after 35+ years of dealing with all this stuff, your reward is hot flashes and night sweats.” WTF Mother Nature.

  92. On the vacuum question, I bought a cordless Dyson V8 pet hair vacuum a couple months ago from Costco and have been pleased with its performance. I don’t expect years of durability due to the battery and I only use it for a few minutes to clean the main living area. I clean more when I don’t have to drag out the vacuum and never have to troubleshoot the central vacuum system for my quick touchups.

  93. First of all I want to thank Meme and July for all of their efforts to maintain this site and community.

    My work/life is too busy right now, so I’ve only been able to binge read the site a couple of times a week. Unfortunately, that means that many of the times that I’ve had something that I can contribute to the conversation, I don’t because the conversation ended several days earlier. Having 2 day topics would improve my chances of being able to contribute to an active conversation. And I would support a more draconian purge policy.

    p.s. Thank you RMS & NOB for your recommendations in the latest fashion post. I’m considering ordering jackets from both Soft Surroundings and Pure Collection.

  94. I am glad to have new posters chiming in. Maybe new posters could suggest topics and have it scheduled for a day they can comment. I think people are more apt to post when their own topic comes up. Also, the Suggesf Topics is now easier than sending in an email.
    I miss long time posters who suddenly drop and I hope all is well with them.

    I have been thinking about the school shooting in my area. Some of the schools from what I have heard have bullying and fighting problems. Kids at the same school, I know of stayed home and completed school online or their parents were concerned enough to send them to a military school, just so that they could finish up safely. The issues are a far cry from the Totebag schools. Several solutions have been tried including magnets. The latest one is combining a Totebag and a troubled schools in the same area to sort of level the playing field.

  95. Similar to what others have mentioned, commenting in the political posts can be a challenge. For one thing, some conversations move very quickly and by the time I have a chance to comment the topic has moved on. While I enjoy the back and forth, I sometimes find it a bit frustrating because I don’t want to stay glued to the thread in order to follow up on a point that I or someone else made. For me it could turn into a big time suck if I let it so I ration my time online.

    Like others, I sometimes feel judged by some in our group and I’m sure others have felt I judge them. We’re all human. I make an effort to think how my comments will affect others, but at the same time I don’t want to weasel out when I want to express my opinion. It’s a balancing act and I like it when we can call each other out on comments but without attacks. Of course, what constitutes an “attack” varies depending on the person and maybe what kind of day they’re having. That happens to me. Some days I can take on the world and some days an innocent remark will send me scurrying to the corner to lick my wounds. In any case, I truly value the community here and I would be thrilled to see it thrive, particularly with more participation from lurkers.

  96. Louise, I know your city has a history with forcing and then dropping public school integration. Have you seen real success with the magnet school approach that attempts to create more diversified schools? Recently I’ve read that your state’s homeschooling has been rising substantially.

  97. July – I don’t think magnet schools are solving the problem. Anecdotally the students who go to magnets have parents who at the minimum are aware and will sign up for the lottery. More effective I think are charter schools like Kipp.
    Like everywhere else that has these problems, the intervention has to start much earlier and the neighborhood schools have to be strengthened. Actually I propose the idea of having smaller K-12 schools. A child grows and remains in a familiar setting and everyone knows your name.

  98. “It shouldn’t be punishment “that’s right – after 35+ years of dealing with all this stuff, your reward is hot flashes and night sweats.” WTF Mother Nature.”

    Not to mention having wrinkles AND pimples AT THE SAME TIME. Mother Nature really is a bitch to older women.

  99. Let me add my welcome to newcomers and lurkers. Many years ago, I lurked on TOS. After a while, I gathered up my courage and dipped my toe into posting, but stopped cold-turkey when I made a comment that was jumped on by a couple of then-regulars. But I decided to try my hand at posting again (under a different name) when The Totebag came along, and I am really glad that I did.

    And thank you July and Meme for all you’ve done. And WFI, if you’re still reading, thanks for getting us started!

  100. Rhett, I forgot to thank you for the tip on the Capital One savings rate. We switched to My Savings Direct – 2.25% with no minimum balance.

    And I’ll add to welcoming the lurkers posting.

  101. Is the Harvard case about discrimination against Asians political? Does it belong on the politics page? I was just gobsmacked when I saw this statistic in the Chronicle of Higher Ed:

    Though the total number of students who fit those descriptions [recruited athletes, the children of alumni, the children of Harvard faculty and staff members, and students on a special list that includes children of donors] represents a small fraction of the applicant pool (5 percent), they account for a large proportion of accepted students (29 percent). That high acceptance rate, Arcidiacono said, made those applicants difficult to compare with others.

    29%? Damn.

  102. RMS – I saw 30%. It’s not so much that people like me who are interested in education in general didn’t know but just seeing that number front and center makes a bigger impact.

  103. Rocky, I think it belongs on the politics page. That said, I enjoy seeing the data that Harvard was trying so hard to hide.

  104. 29%? Damn.

    Don’t you go to Harvard so you can hobnob with the daughter of the President of China and kids form families that are donating buildings and art collections? Isn’t that a very significant part of the value add that Harvard provides?

    Recruited athletes make and donate the most money so it’s obvious why they have an edge.

  105. Recruited athletes make and donate the most money

    Really? There have been a grand total of 15 players from Harvard drafted into the NFL since 1960. And there have been all of 4 players from Harvard who have played in the NBA since 1946 (that’s actually played regardless of if they were even drafted).

    Aside from Jeremy Lin, Ryan Fitzpatrick and a few others, Harvard athletes aren’t making big bucks, at least in sports.

  106. Rocky – that stat includes children of staff – the secretaries, janitors, and food service workers, as well as the deanlets, the professors, and the people who staff Student Life. A lot of people will work at a university just for the shot at admission that their kids might get. I think it is unfair that Harvard lumps those people in with the Big Donors in their stats

  107. There have been a grand total of 15 players from Harvard drafted into the NFL since 1960.

    A huge percentage go on to work on Wall Street, hedge funds, PE, etc.

  108. Rhett, as I said, they aren’t making money as athletes. And I would bet that most of them would do just as well if they didn’t play a sport at Harvard.

    I think it is unfair that Harvard lumps those people in with the Big Donors in their stats

    Why? The point is that these are spots that aren’t open to the general applicant pool.

  109. And I would bet that most of them would do just as well if they didn’t play a sport at Harvard.

    I doubt that. Wall Street has a very well known and long standing preference for Ivy League athletes.

  110. Finn – I don’t know how many solar panels. My total input was to respond that I didn’t care if he had solar panels put in. From the back yard, you can only see the first row due to the angle of the roof. But they cover roughly at 10 ft by 40 ft area on the roof.

  111. It is unfair because people tend to see these groups differently. Kid of donors are not as sympathetic as kids of the janitors. It would be useful to see the acceptance rates by subgroup

  112. “Why? The point is that these are spots that aren’t open to the general applicant pool.”

    Yes, and many families are simply unaware that the overall admissions statistics from selective universities lump all of these groups together. It’s useful to know what the chances are for “unhooked” students. And it’s astounding that the Harvard legacy admit rate is at least four times higher than the overall rate. This book came out in 2005, so the numbers are not current, but it gives a good description of how the admissions system is tilted in favor of hooked students, most of whom are NOT underprivileged in any way. https://www.amazon.com/Price-Admission-Americas-Colleges-Outside-ebook/dp/B000WJVKBC

  113. Scarlett,

    I was also surprised at how much weight they put on geographic diversity. If you’re over-privileged you’ve got a hook, if you’re underprivileged you have a hook. If you’re from a far away state you’ve got a hook. But if you’re a totebag kid from a totebag suburb your chances are very very slim.

  114. Last week I read in our town newspaper that a junior at the local high school just “committed” to Cornell to play field hockey. Another junior from a neighboring school district “committed” to Dartmouth to pay soccer. Does this mean that for recruited athletes, junior year grades and senior year grades don’t count at all? They can really be admitted at the start of their junior year?

  115. It is unfair because people tend to see these groups differently. Kid of donors are not as sympathetic as kids of the janitors. It would be useful to see the acceptance rates by subgroup.

    But that’s not the point of the stat – the point is to show how many spots are available for the general applicant pool. Why the other spots are unavailable is irrelevant to the point being made.

    Yes, and many families are simply unaware that the overall admissions statistics from selective universities lump all of these groups together. It’s useful to know what the chances are for “unhooked” students.

    Right, so grouping all the “hooked” students together is the way to show what is left for the “unhooked” students.

  116. NoB, verbal commitments are not binding and they have not been admitted yet. Their junior and senior year grades still matter, and the school or the student can change their mind for any reason. You can’t sign a letter of intent until senior year, which is binding.

  117. NOB – My understanding (friend whose child is an athlete) is that the school is saying, we have a spot for you as long as (1) you apply (which is sort of a given) and (2) you don’t screw up between now and graduation. “Screw up” – covers a wide variety of things from don’t get arrested to don’t decide not to play your senior year to graduating with at least the gpa you have now to don’t have a career ending injury. College recruiting of HS athletes is its own process.

  118. “But if you’re a totebag kid from a totebag suburb your chances are very very slim.”

    Sort of. It’s a little more complicated, at least in the case of Harvard:

    “Applications are divided into 20 geographic regions, with each docket containing roughly the same number of applications. For example, Texas is its own docket, while Alaska and nine states in the Mountain West make up another, according to a map shown during the trial.

    Applicants from two dockets—the greater New York City and Boston areas—had admit rates of 11.3% and 12.8%, respectively, for the class of 2018. That’s roughly double the rates for other dockets.

    Those dockets are chaired by Harvard’s two top admissions officials, and happen to be areas with concentrated alumni and donor communities.” https://www.wsj.com/articles/knowing-the-13-secret-steps-into-harvard-doesnt-make-it-any-easier-1540752653

    The reality is that the most competitive applications come from the Totebag pockets in major metro areas. It’s like the stats on early admissions — everyone focuses on the (much) higher admit rate, without necessarily taking into account that only the strongest students are encouraged to apply early. In the case of national universities, you’re really competing against the many other applicants from Scarsdale, not the handful from Wyoming.

  119. My niece received a D3 verbal offer the summer of her junior year. The school was interested in her SAT scores and she had to apply Early Decision this fall.

  120. Thanks, Denver and Anon. The world of school and college athletics is totally foreign to me, never having participated in it.

  121. I agree with most of what said Anon answering NoB’s question. My DD was a Division 1 athlete at a HSS recruited in her junior year of high school. Once they identified her as a prospect, they asked for her SAT scores and transcript to make sure she could get in academically. Then they made her a scholarship offer and she verbally committed. It was assumed she would maintain those grades. When she signed her letter of intent, I closely read the contract. It stated that her scholarship would continue as long as she was a member of the team and was in good standing with the NCAA. It specifically stated that the scholarship would not end if she was injured.

  122. “Does this mean that for recruited athletes, junior year grades and senior year grades don’t count at all? They can really be admitted at the start of their junior year?”

    I’ve heard of this happening (getting admitted early in junior year) when kids decide to graduate after their junior year.

  123. “It specifically stated that the scholarship would not end if she was injured.”

    In scholarship sports, I believe it’s not uncommon for kids who leave the team due to injury to moved from athletic scholarships to other types of scholarships to free up their athletic scholarship for other kids, since teams have athletic scholarship limits.

    So kids that have a lot of athletic potential and are not reliant on athletic scholarships are typically treated differently than kids with similar athletic talent and potential but reliant on athletic scholarships.

  124. “I was also surprised at how much weight they put on geographic diversity.”

    When you see stories about kids being accepted to all Ivies, they are almost always URM. In DS’ year, there was one white kid accepted to all Ivies (and LSJU and MIT IIRC). His hook was being from North Dakota.

  125. Was this the thread where people were talking about weighted blankets? Got an alert from a frugal shopping blog that Brookstone weighted blankets are half off today here:

    Hop on over to Buydig.com where you can score this Brookstone Nap Weighted Blanket for just $69.99 (regularly $149.99) when you use promo code WEIGHTED at checkout.

    Brookstone 12-Pound Weighted Blanket $149.99
    Use promo code WEIGHTED ($80 off)
    Shipping is free
    Final cost $69.99 shipped!

    OK, I don’t think the links are working but you can search for it at that website referenced.

  126. My sibling’s kid verbally committed in 9th grade and then graduated high school in December of senior year and started college in January. A recruit a few years older who committed as a 10th grader did not get into the school due to grades/test scores and ended up at a different college. The coaches worked with that player a lot to get up to the minimum requirements and they couldn’t get it done.

    My understanding is that players who medically retire stay on scholarship but don’t go against the team scholarship limits.

    The scholarship athlete is working HARD and has more than a full time job, especially at the top ranked schools.

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