Tuesday open thread

We have an open thread all day.

I’ve been wondering how people feel about this.

Is Marie Kondo Wrong About Books?

… The books you read convey meaning to you; the books you keep convey meaning to others. The best reason to keep books in your home is to show them off to other people.

Huh?

More opinions:

Keep your tidy, spark-joy hands off my book piles, Marie Kondo WaPo

And:

Book people, especially, have balked at the idea that they should dispose of any books that don’t spark joy.

Upcoming topics:

Wednesday  —  Silly Tricks for Budgeting  (Louise)
Thursday  —  Tips for Aging Well  (Seattle Soccer Mom)
Friday  —  Weird News: What about your town?   (Rhode)
Sunday —  Politics open thread

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128 thoughts on “Tuesday open thread

  1. PT appointment re: running was great. Have to go twice/week for 4 weeks but should be back to full running soon. What a relief. Ran a mile today for the first time in 3 months.

  2. That’s great but wait, good results from one appointment? What is the issue you’re addressing?

    For muscular back pain brought on by walking >3-5 miles, should I see an orthopedist or a “sports doctor”?

  3. Yes, on the books. I love looking at other people’s book collections and feel sad that tablets and e-readers are reducing those collections. My son’s D&D friends like to look at our books too – in fact one of them ended up borrowing one of my old faves – a nice readable little book on early church heresies. Seriously. The kids also compliment us on the stuff we put up on our walls, which tends towards the medieval.

  4. in my book, always see a sports doctor, especially if the pain is due to exercise. Many of them are trained in orthopedics, but are more holistic, and more focused on getting you back into action. I love the person I have seen for several issues. She is lowkey in her approach,

  5. The books on my shelves spark far more joy than the work clothes I have to keep because I have to look a certain way at my job. And if sparking joy were the only criterion for keeping things, there wouldn’t be a single bra in my drawer. Marie Kondo is as silly in her own way as Martha Stewart

  6. “In ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,’ Kondo advises deciding the fate of each book only by touch. “Make sure you don’t start reading it,” she says. ‘Reading clouds your judgment.’”

    Uhhhhh, no.

    “We don’t keep books because we know ‘what kind of information is important to us at this moment.’ We keep them because we don’t know.”

    +1.

    My favorite, favorite room in any house is a library – one of the old-fashioned ones with built-in dark wood shelves all around and a rolling ladder. My dream house would have one of those. There is something both incredibly homey/comfortable and enticing about that kind of surrounding — I just can’t help but think about all the possibilities there, the idea that I could pull down anything I wanted, curl up in a chair, and be comfy and snug and spend the whole day visiting another world. It is a deep, fundamental happiness that doesn’t have anything to do with what the individual books are. The only reason I cull is for space.

    Our front room (currently used as the kids’ playroom) has a pocket door into the dining room and built-in bookshelves on either side. I don’t love it, as the shelving is both very basic (painted white plywood) and froofy (pseudo-Victorian curly scroll-ey accents), but it’ll do. Maybe when the kids are gone I can add wood built-ins all around and turn that into a real library. Maybe with a pool table in the middle. ;-)

  7. I am not sentimental about physical books – even before e-readers I passed them onto friends or donated them without a thought. I think we have too many physical books in our house that no one will ever open again, and we don’t even have that many. My mom has books that no one has opened in 50 years. Why on earth would anyone in our family want a actuarial study guide from the 70’s? I dread having to go through her bookshelves someday. I am not much of a re-reader, so I really only like to keep reference books and cookbooks. But I am an avowed Kindle convert as well.

    Children’s books are a different story since you often read them over & over again and can pass them down to others who will read them over & over again.

    I guess I can see it as a bit of a conversation starter when visiting someone’s home, but I don’t think that’s worth keeping a bunch of books that no one will ever read. I am not that big on books as decor anyway. It’s fine, but it’s not a look that I am cultivating.

  8. LfB says “My favorite, favorite room in any house is a library – one of the old-fashioned ones with built-in dark wood shelves all around and a rolling ladder. ”

    Oh, I always dreamed of having that room in my house!! With the ladder of course.

  9. I’m not sentimental about physical books either, except for a few types. But I do have a slight fear that when the apocalypse strikes I won’t have anything to read so I keep a stash for that. :)

  10. @ July – I have 2 issues going on. The first is that I’ve had 2 stress fractures despite not running long distances. Since I’m a skinny white woman, there’s concern about bone density, so that’s for my internist to address. She drew blood for a vitamin D check today, and is going to see if my insurance will cover a dexa scan. (sp?)

    But also I’ve been having chronic calf pain while running, separate from the fractures. It appears to be a form and weakness issue (hips and glutes are weak, over dependence on calves and quads for movement). Since I’ve just been cleared to start running again from the fracture standpoint, the thought is that if I start with PT right away, I can prevent the calf pain from starting up again. The PT recommended some changes to my form and certain exercises, and I’ll check in twice/week to see how I do.

  11. There are certainly lots of book categories that I purge. This isn’t a thing so much these days, but I used to always dump my computing reference books on a yearly basis. Who really needs to keep a 500 page tome on an out of date version of some database management system? Now the info is all online anyway. I pay a subscription for Safari Online to get all my O’Reilly books on the technologies du jour. And I purge kids books aggressively, or tell the kids to get the books on their Kindles. Who needs 50 Magic Treehouse or Naruto books?
    But our complete collection of Icelandic sagas, and the big museum exhibition catalogs? Those stay. The book of Andy Warhol art actually signed by Andy Warhol (and my DH has a photo of himself standing next to Andy at the book signing event) – that stays. The lavishly illustrated tome on American Indians that I used to pore through as a kid. Stays. The collection of books on Christian heresies stays.

  12. Lark, do you have issues with tight glutes? That has been an issue for me, and causes pain in lots of areas I would not have expected.

  13. Lark, do you have issues with tight glutes? That has been an issue for me, and causes pain in lots of areas I would not have expected.

    No, and no issues with my IT band, either. All calf pain, for me. Of course, ask me again next week after I’ve done all these glute and hip exercises…

  14. I didn’t find Marie Kondo life changing. That’s because I regularly get rid of our stuff. Things of long term sentimental value that must remain are few. Lack of excessive storage space is also a factor.
    My mother eventually got rid of my childhood books without letting me know, those were the only books I wanted to keep.
    I love books but now I read a lot of things online. I kept a few of the kids books but we don’t have the space for more than two bookshelves worth of books. I keep cookbooks and travel books.

  15. Lark, my issue with PT has been that a lot of places have their therapists working with two or three patients at a time. They do just you on the initial visit, and then go to multitasking on the following ones. When I had my shoulder surgery a few years ago, I had to try several before I finally found one that gave me one-on-one attention.

  16. I keep more books than Marie Kondo recommends. :) However, DH has a bunch of books in the basement that are old Dragonlance etc. paperbacks, and I KNOW they are all mildewed/moldy to boot. I don’t want to keep those any more!

  17. I have stopped buying physical cookbooks and read them on my tablet instead. I like to read cookbooks for ideas, cultural backgrounds, ingredient tips, etc, but for actual cooking, I am more likely to use NYTimes recipes. I don’t think kids books can be passed down. A generation later, they look old and faded, and so many good kids books come out each year that compete for attention.

  18. We do have tons of books that no one has read in 10-30 years. Every time I go into the basement I stop by one of the many book shelves and see if there’s truly something outdated that would not be useful for even the humor in seeing what used to be current that I can recycle.

    However, I did use my b-school stats book a couple of years ago when DS3 was taking stats his senior year in hs. Trying to do his year-end project he got stuck asked for help so I said let’s look in the book. Book is at school. So I traipsed downstairs, got my book off the shelf, and, lo and behold, it had exactly what was needed for him to move forward.

    DD – my PT place is as you describe. I never had any issue with it and I don’t know that my recuperation took longer than it would have if I had gone to a 1:1 setup.. My boss wanted a 1:1 place post (his) hip surgery.

  19. Re: PT – if I am running on their treadmill for 5-10 minutes for the gait filming/analysis, I don’t mind if he’s not sitting there watching me the whole time. But a good bit of this PT is for stretching and strengthening, so I will be annoyed if it’s not 1:1. I think in that case I would just do the exercises at home myself.

  20. Orthopedists are surgeons. Don’t go to a surgeon unless you want them to recommend surgery. Of course, good orthopedic surgeons will recommend non operative management when appropriate, but “good” is a very difficult thing to assess.

    Yes, sports medicine doctors have training in orthopedics. That is not a particularly distinguishing characteristic. So do pediatricians, family practice doctors, physical med and rehab doctors. One might try starting with primary care.

  21. My PT place also multiprocessed but it was fine. They did a pretty thorough workup when I started (agreeing with the sports medicine doc that I have very tight muscles which are causing problems in all sorts of areas) and introduced me to lots of exercises I wouldn’t have known about. Even after finishing my sessions, I kept up with a lot of them. Sadly, many of the exercises exacerbate my residual CSF leak symptoms.

  22. A few decades ago, I was an avid book collector, and picked up literally hundreds of them at library book sales. But with age comes wisdom and I am now pretty diligent about regular culling. If I will never pick it up again and none of our grown kids will ever want it, then I will try to pass it along to someone who will enjoy it now. Waiting until we downsize into retirement living is too late for some books that may be outdated or damaged from long term storage.
    But I am still emotionally attached to many books that should really be passed on so it’s a constant struggle.

  23. When we bought our house we were 22 and 24. DH didn’t want a man cave. He wanted a library. Our house is a 1.5 story bungalow with 1 bedroom upstairs and 2 bedrooms on the main floor. Shortly after moving in, we had an energy audit and found out our upstairs had no insulation, so we use it only for attic space. We were down to essentially a 2 bedroom house. DH then converted one of the bedrooms into a library with built-in floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, window seat, and desk. So then we had a 1 bedroom house. After kids, we renovated our basement and our kids share a non-conforming bedroom in the basement. Sometimes I wish we lived in a bigger house, but when the kids leave, the house will be perfect for us and our taxes are only $4K/annually. If we moved to a bigger house nearby, we’d be paying 2.5 times that in taxes.

    I get rid of lots of things, but I don’t touch DH’s books. They don’t bother me too much because they are (mostly) in one room. The kids’ books are downstairs on a shelf or in their bedroom. Over the holidays we were cleaning out their room and they had 60 books in their bedroom. Yikes. I have gone through their old books and put them in the attic. I keep meaning to bring them over to our pediatrician because she said the clinic could use new books.

  24. TCM — Do you think you might insulate your upstairs? If your DH gets a library, you should get your own space too! :) When we moved into our tall, skinny Victorian, on of the first things we did was to insulate our third-floor walk-up attic, and that “bonus room” is now my favorite part of the house. Technically it’s shared space available to all family members, but no one else seems to want to climb that extra set of stairs, so it’s sort of become “my” room. Bliss!

  25. “Orthopedists are surgeons. Don’t go to a surgeon unless you want them to recommend surgery.”

    I had been thinking that, but I wasn’t sure. I’ll check with my primary care doctor first.

  26. Oh, and much like TCM’s DH, my husband commandeered the formal living room of our house for a library (he’s someone who cannot bear to part with books), so he has “his” room, too.

  27. “I don’t think kids books can be passed down. ”

    Ah – i was unclear. I was thinking more of passing them down to younger cousins/friends, not keeping them for 30 years in the hopes that someday there will be grandchildren. I don’t keep ANYTHING for potential future grandchildren.

  28. You can pry my books from my cold dead hands. You know what caused both DH and I to cry during our flood – losing a large portion of our book collection. We didn’t repurchase every title, but I think we repurchased ~75% of the titles. I had 2 bookcases built post-flood to store our books, DVDs, some kids’ books, and most of the kids’ toys. The shelves are varying heights to allow for different sized books and double-duty as toy storage. Marie Kondo would probably have a heart attack looking at the shelves. I find joy in them. All of them.

    We regularly re-organize and go through the toys, books, and DVDs to make room for new stuff. I would love to to reduce the clutter, but with 2 kids, the clutter will increase for a while.

    We are currently decluttering clothes size newborn through 18 months. It feels wonderful to give boxes to my friend who works with foster families in the state. Next, I’m giving a friend some toys for her daughter – a little play structure and a ride on scooter – to use in their basement (like we did). Then I can move some of the boys’ larger toy sets (like some VTech Go Go Smart Wheels) to the basement.

  29. I’ve saved some kids books that are in pretty good shape. I have a vague notion that they would go to grandkids, but that may be unrealistic. Same with a few toys like wooden puzzles.

  30. We have a ton of books in our house, but I think we’re pretty good about weeding them out. Kid’s book series get donated to the school library once everyone is sure they’re truly done with them. Our boys will reread favorite books so I always hold on to them for a few years, but then gather up and donate. At the moment I bet we have 200 books of theirs in the house, but at the end of this school year probably 25 – 50 will be donated.

    There are certain cookbooks and home inspiration books I turn to again and again, and there are others just fall flat. I’ve gotten much better about weeding out the ones that only have a couple recipes worth repeating. DH reads a lot of biographies, but he’s quick to loan them out or outright give them away if there’s someone with a particular interest, so those don’t seem to be taking over too much.

    We also have a lot of bookshelves in our house, and having them full of books makes a room feel warm and welcoming to me.

  31. My grandparents house, a colonial era home had a lot of space and over the generations was packed with things. I don’t think my grandparents realized that their house represented the end of an era. Till my grandmother was alive there was no downsizing or passing on of individual items. As a result many things that family wanted was mixed in with old junk and everything was put in storage while the property was developed into apartments. In storage things slowly rotted. Now, the city has preserved historic homes and I am sure some of my grandparents things were worth preserving but no one was ready to undertake sorting through all the stuff.

  32. July said”I’ve saved some kids books that are in pretty good shape. I have a vague notion that they would go to grandkids, but that may be unrealistic. Same with a few toys like wooden puzzles.”

    My MIL saved a few things like that, but she kept them for when the grandkids visit her. She has a bin for them. When my kids were little and we were visiting, my kids knew they could pull everything out of the bin and play. Same for the older grandkids (the ones now in their 30’s, lol) and the new generation of great grandkids.

  33. But a good bit of this PT is for stretching and strengthening, so I will be annoyed if it’s not 1:1. I think in that case I would just do the exercises at home myself.

    Yes, that’s my issue with it. If they are just going to tell me “go do this exercise, go do that one, etc” without paying any attention to if I’m doing them correctly or if I’m improving, I can do that at home by myself. I don’t need to waste my time and money going to see them.

  34. We have a ton of books in our basement because DW reads constantly. But she started using a kindle app a few years ago so that’s stopped the tide. I still like to read physical books, but I don’t read nearly as much as she does, and I sell a lot of them on amazon after I finish them. I might only get $4-5 after the fees, but it gets the book out of the house.

    But for everyone with these large book collections, do your kids a huge favor and get rid of them at some point. My mom had tons of books, and we had to figure out what to do with them when she died.

  35. I dropped off a large bag of children’s books for the used book sale earlier today. I asked DD about some of the books because they looked brand new. She bought a bunch of chapter books in 4th and 5th grade that she never read. Our PTA collects all of the donated books and then runs a sale in school. All of the books are sold for 50 cents or 1 dollar. The money that is raised (usually 3-4 thousand) is used to fund literacy scholarships for the summer reading program. Some of the neighboring towns have used book sales with adult books too, those require sales at night or weekends to the parents. This is one of the best fundraisers because there are no expenses since the school gives the PTA a room for the sale. All of the proceeds are donated back to the literacy program.

    I was a little sad when I was going through some of the books because they bring back so many memories. It was interesting to see which books were important to DD because she kept about dozen picture books that she loved.

  36. “They did a pretty thorough workup when I started (agreeing with the sports medicine doc that I have very tight muscles which are causing problems in all sorts of areas) and introduced me to lots of exercises I wouldn’t have known about. Even after finishing my sessions, I kept up with a lot of them. Sadly, many of the exercises exacerbate my residual CSF leak symptoms.”

    @MM: Have you tried acupuncture, in particular sports-medicine-focused acupuncture? This is exactly the kind of thing that my acupuncturist has been brilliant at getting to release — and some of it is so deep that no stretching or massage has been able to reach it (I had been struggling with some of this stuff for years before finding her). I’d also think it would be gentler for your CSF issues.

  37. I donate childrens books to elementary schools in less affluent areas.

    I’m a big reader, but not a big book buyer. I try and get 90+% of my books from the library.

  38. “But for everyone with these large book collections, do your kids a huge favor and get rid of them at some point. My mom had tons of books, and we had to figure out what to do with them when she died.”

    Or you can be like my dad and store them in a garage… except the garage wasn’t water tight, and multiple boxes had holes in them and caused the books to rot. We had to get rid of some 1st edition books that way (which was painful!).

    I expect the large collections of books with diminish with time. So many are used to reading on kindles that the need for physical books is waning. Within a few generations, children will only be left with signed books, the sentimental value ones, and maybe family heirlooms.

  39. Many years ago I was an avid book collector……..every book I read, I saved. I would lend them out to friends, but believed there was a special place in hell for those who borrowed books and didn’t return them. I collected every type of book—-first editions, pop culture paper backs, classics and poetry, biography, memoir, history, plays, modern and medieval, text books, children’s books, fiction, non-fiction……everything! I had a vast and extensive collection that was categorized and displayed. I had Custom built in bookshelves crafted to house the collection in each new home. And they all gave me great joy. Now, many years and moves and calamities and life and technology changes later………I do not keep books. I read them and then I share them, I donate them, I toss them. I have held on to a few first edition poetry collections, a friend’s published works, a few signed by the author books…..these are displayed on the shelves in my study. They are fine….. but they do not bring me the joy they once did and I would happily pass them on. If someone comes into my study and picks up a first edition Yeats and admires it or appreciates it, I give it to them. And that gives me joy.

  40. I became a Lady Gaga fan after I heard her sing with Tony Bennett. My respect grew after her Sound of Music tribute at the Oscars. I was just stuck in traffic and I was listening to the radio when Shallow from A Star is born was played. My whole mood changed even though I was stuck in traffic. She is so talented.

  41. Over on the G&F FB page, on a thread about the high cost of textbooks, someone commented saying why can’t professors just use websites since that is what the high schools do. And another person replied saying that her kid was really upset about having required textbooks because books were so foreign to her. Ugh, ugh, ugh!

  42. “I became a Lady Gaga fan after I heard her sing with Tony Bennett.”
    Yes, me too.

  43. DD didn’t have an Algebra textbook last year and she missed it. Her bio textbook was late and didn’t arrive until November. She did have access to the online textbooks for both classes, but she missed having the textbook. I know there is a cost (and weight) factor, but some students want to read an actual book. The strain on the eyes vs. looking at a screen is different, AND she can sit quietly and focus on the subject. Any time she is on her laptop or phone to study, a million notifications keep popping up from Snapchat etc.

  44. Any time she is on her laptop or phone to study, a million notifications keep popping up from Snapchat etc.

    That’s my issue with having kids do so much school stuff online now. There are too many distractions.

  45. My duaghter does not have a textbook in math and it is horrible. The teacher gives them these paper based packets which have no explanations at all, just problems to do and occassional lists of topics. How do you learn math without worked examples and explanations? And in social studies they use websites. It isn’t coherent at all. My daughter has enough issues with focus as it is – she doesn’t need to be stuck with subpar learning resources.

  46. This year online textbooks for DS didn’t work as the school expected. Parents were sent the wrong access codes, some parents were sent multiple codes and tech support wasn’t helpful. I just the school could handle unlocking the online textbooks in bulk. My kids hardly refer to Paper textbooks and they look at me like I am from the ice age of paper textbooks.

  47. My sense from our kids and their friends, and current students we know, is that most college kids still use and prefer actual textbooks. They are certainly still lugging around the large backpacks, even though many do use laptops for taking notes and they all use them for doing papers. I got Kindles for all of the boys a few years ago, but they hardly ever use them except for airline travel. When DS1 was commuting on the Metro in DC, he brought along his hardcover Churchill bio for reading — no way could I have carried such a heavy tome even at his age, but young men are blessed in that regard.

    If given the choice between a “real” book or Kindle version of the same title, all three of them will pick the book. But then they are still in the exciting stage of building their grownup libraries. The readers I know who are most passionate about their Kindles are all middle-aged or older. Some of my elderly friends cannot see well enough to read anything unless it’s on a Kindle.

  48. I have tons of books and I’m not getting rid of them. Sorry. My stepson and his wife can take some of the money they inherit and hire a truck to come get them. Books are the least of it when you’re decluttering an old person’s home. It’s all the paperwork in the file drawers, and you don’t know what’s important and what’s hopelessly out of date, and so on.

  49. “My sense from our kids and their friends, and current students we know, is that most college kids still use and prefer actual textbooks.”
    My students mainly just ignore the textbook, whether online or paper. Many of them never bother to acquire the books.

  50. “When DS1 was commuting on the Metro in DC, he brought along his hardcover Churchill bio for reading”
    That sounds so much like my middle kid! He lugged a huge bio of somebody or another on the train when he went to Model Congress

  51. “Books are the least of it when you’re decluttering an old person’s home.”

    I’ve heard of cases where valuable odd documents or money was found in the books in old people’s homes. When I decluttered my older kid’s bookshelves I found a few valuable papers stuck in books. Well, more sentimentally valuable. No bank account numbers or such!

  52. “My students mainly just ignore the textbook, whether online or paper. Many of them never bother to acquire the books.”

    What a total waste of time and money.
    Our school is filled with Totebag kids, and DH has found that few of them ignore the textbook. They do so in his class at their peril, so he is probably getting a self-selected group.

  53. I used to love keeping books, but alas, I’m a total kindle convert and during the holidays even donated a couple of boxes of favorite books I’d been keeping, but not displaying, in the basement.

    I am different than most of you on kids books. My MIL kept books and games from my (only-child) DH, and my kids always loved getting into those at their house. The books eventually came home to our house but I left the games there. She always asked me to take them, but I knew if they were available every day, they would be ignored, and it was nice to have something different at their house. So, I’ve kept many of my kids books. In fact, I had my 23yo DS help me sort through them with exactly this in mind. We labeled the totes as “kids books, curated by DS” as a reminder that these were ones beloved by him. He seemed to think it was an entirely reasonable activity, and I don’t see him getting married or having kids for 10 years or so. Of course, I can’t get him to go through the bookshelves in his room with the more YA books on them. He doesn’t see any reason why those have to go anywhere. Maybe he’ll just move them into his own library some day. He was a reluctant kindle convert.

  54. “I’ve heard of cases where valuable odd documents or money was found in the books in old people’s homes.

    Oh, is this bringing back memories. My mother was a Depression-era kid, and she never fully trusted the banks. So she had a habit of tucking away cash here and there. $50 tucked into this sweater pocket, $100 tucked into that file folder, and so on. When I was cleaning out her house, I had to go through Every. Single. Thing., because I never knew where cash would turn up. I ended up finding a few thousand dollars. There might have been a few thousand more that I missed.

  55. “In fact, I had my 23yo DS help me sort through them with exactly this in mind. We labeled the totes as “kids books, curated by DS” as a reminder that these were ones beloved by him.”

    Sunshine, we did the same thing, sort of. I went through all of the children’s books before we moved here ten years ago, and put aside the ones they really loved. Which was quite a few — some of them had been purchased new for them, but many others had been acquired at book sales and were tattered paperback or library discard picture books that are, sadly, out of print. They fit perfectly in “sweater” boxes from the Container Store, and will stay at our house for the grandkids. ITA with your approach to keep fun things at the grandparent home; plus there would be fights among the boys over who gets to keep the treasures.
    I recently had to relocate a whole bunch of my own books in order to clear a shelf for the first wave of picture books for the grandkids. It has been a lot of fun for DS, now the dad, to discover these books again with his own kids. Some of them he can recite from memory.

  56. My mom ended up finding $2-3K in my great-aunt’s belongings — in books, in drawers between sets of linens, etc. We’re pretty sure that there was more somewhere that others found before we got down there.

  57. After spending a good bit of the day on the computer, I do not want to read on a device in the evening. I am realizing this is partly why I don’t read in the evenings any more. I vowed to read “real” books for my book club this year and am finding that MUCH more enjoyable.

    We always had books in the house growing up, but mainly they had been checked out of the library. I loved that my aunt had a small collection of books I could read when I went to her house. We have too many books. Now that we have late HS and early college, I likely need to go through the birth through elementary school books. DD#1 is our collector and re-reads some of hers often. At her age I didn’t realize books went out of print and wish I kept some I didn’t. At this point, I have some that need to go, but since they are all nicely arranged on shelves, that is the least of my clutter worries.

  58. And if sparking joy were the only criterion for keeping things, there wouldn’t be a single bra in my drawer
    Bwahahaha–so true!

    I think the third title alludes to a misunderstanding. If my bookcase full of books “sparks joy”, why should I throw parts of it out? Has she cut the sleeves off her favorite top? I think she has a very narrow idea of what types of books people have on their shelves, and the ways in which we connect with them.

    I am still emotionally attached to many books that should really be passed on so it’s a constant struggle.
    It sounds like you’re pretty clear on which should probably get the heave-ho and which your descendants might enjoy. Why not keep them separated in your library that way? I agree with Rocky that a bookcase is not a hard thing to weed through after a parent’s death (not that I’ve ever done it). I know my parents’ bookcases well, and imagine that when the time comes, we’ll load them into boxes, occasionally stopping to look at one a little while, and maybe setting a couple aside for ourselves. Much more pleasant than going through all the boxes in the basement and attic (my parents’ attic is bigger than their 3-car garage)

    they had 60 books in their bedroom. Yikes.huh?

    I can’t imagine supervising 3 people doing exercises and not being able to correct their form on all of them. You show someone the move, watch them do it, correct, watch them again, and after they’ve done 2-3 correctly, you have them do the rest of the set while moving on to someone else. While working with that person, you occasionally glance at the first and repeat a cue when needed–“head up” or “pelvic tilt”, what ever. I don’t see why you’d need someone to watch every rep of every move to benefit from their presence.

    There are plenty of apps available to block pop-ups and other interruptions, or to temporarily block access to certain apps. Plenty of professionals use them all the time. Why not get h.s. kids started on them? People all learn differently–schools are way behind and continue to force one way to learn on entire classes. Makes no sense. Multiple learning resource requires careful organization and presentation of the options, but that’s worth the end result of better learning.

    At the u. where I did my PhD, we all taught 5 or 6 semesters before graduating. Most of us put together a packet for the semester, to be picked up at a copy shop, spiral bound, for maybe $20. When I moved on to my first FT job after that, I was surprised to learn that students there very much wanted a textbook. The ability to drop $85 on a textbook was clearly part of that preference.

    The kind of library LfB described is abhorrent to my son, which really makes me sad. Really, really. He never wanted to keep any book he had already read, and these days rereads old faves on Kindle when he’s feeling stressed.

  59. Oh, and for the record, not accepting things to bring home from the in-laws is something I apparently am known for well outside of board games. There was actually a snarky comment in the middle of Christmas dinner about it. I imagine it was supposed to bother me. And it would have bothered a younger me.

  60. “Books are the least of it when you’re decluttering an old person’s home.”

    ITA; that’s what I found in cleaning out my in-laws’ house. They had many shelves of books, but I let the kids pick any they wanted, included those they thought that Book-Off would buy, and boxed up the rest to take to the school for their carnival, or for the Friends of the Library book sale.

  61. “Some of my elderly friends cannot see well enough to read anything unless it’s on a Kindle.”

    One of my reasons for getting a Kindle was being able to enlarge the font at a time when I was starting to need reading glasses.

  62. At my kids’ school, many of the English books are treated sort of like workbooks. They’re supposed to mark up the books and make notes in the margins.

    Fortunately, most of those books were available as relatively inexpensive paperbacks.

  63. ““I became a Lady Gaga fan after I heard her sing with Tony Bennett.”
    Yes, me too.”

    Me three, as we would say as kids.

    When DS first heard her sing with Bennett, he played that for me, and also made sure I saw her TV special in which she did a bunch of jazz singing. I wish she’d record more jazz singing.

    “My respect grew after her Sound of Music tribute at the Oscars.”

    That was a chicken skin moment.

  64. Actually, the real chicken skin moment was when Julie Andrews came onstage right after Gaga finished singing.

  65. You show someone the move, watch them do it, correct, watch them again, and after they’ve done 2-3 correctly, you have them do the rest of the set while moving on to someone else. While working with that person, you occasionally glance at the first and repeat a cue when needed–“head up” or “pelvic tilt”, what ever. I don’t see why you’d need someone to watch every rep of every move to benefit from their presence.

    First, IME it doesn’t work that way. The PT would just say “go do this exercise” and show how to do it once, and then ignore me while they moved on to the next person. Then when I was done, I’d need to wait to get their attention to get the next exercise.

    Second, I am paying them for their time. If they are working with other people at the same time, then I am not getting the time that I am paying for.

    You used to teach. Would you teach two or three classes at the same time? I’m thinking it wouldn’t fly if you did some brief instruction with one group of students and gave them some work to do, then went to the next group and did the same thing, then did it with a third group, while the first group was doing nothing at that point because they finished their work.

  66. and boxed up the rest to take to the school for their carnival, or for the Friends of the Library book sale.

    The flip side is when the parent has roughly 1,100 – 1,200 books and lives in another state so the kids have absolutely no idea who migjt be willing to take them. The Salvation Army is great for picking up furniture, housewares, clothes, and such, but they don’t want anything to do with that amount of books.

  67. “You used to teach. Would you teach two or three classes at the same time? I’m thinking it wouldn’t fly if you did some brief instruction with one group of students and gave them some work to do, then went to the next group and did the same thing, then did it with a third group, while the first group was doing nothing at that point because they finished their work.”

    Umm, this belongs on the political page today because the discussion is about education and this is how differentiated instruction works. :)

    I quit going to my PT because the therapist’s family brought her baby to work and she was busy showing the baby around during my time.

  68. The main advantage of physical text books over online ones is that you can buy them used and then resell them for pretty much what you paid for them. Which is why the publishers are pushing the online ones.

  69. ” Would you teach two or three classes at the same time?”
    I do a lot of inclass lab exercises (part of those active learning strategies that researchers have found really work), so I typically have 27 students, all trying to grab me at the same time with their questions. I have to move pretty efficiently among all of them to make sure no one gets lost. How is that different?

  70. In fact, what you are saying you want with your PT is pretty much the same thing as a one on one tutor. Which would be great, but isn’t what any of us teachers or professors have.

  71. Finn, yes if goose bumps = chicken skin moment. The Sound of Music is one of my favorite movies. I did get goose bumps was a when Julie Andrews joined her on stage.

  72. “The flip side is when the parent has roughly 1,100 – 1,200 books and lives in another state so the kids have absolutely no idea who migjt be willing to take them. ”

    I think when the parents live in another state, it’s a lot harder to find people willing to take any of their stuff, not just books.

  73. Clearing out my parents’ books was the easiest part! However, finding someone to take them is harder. We drug several boxes to Half Price Books. Didn’t get much money, but then they donate the ones they don’t buy if you don’t want to take them back.

  74. “I did use my b-school stats book a couple of years ago when DS3 was taking stats his senior year in hs.”

    I’ve pulled out my college physics, calculus, and probability texts a few times when the kids had questions.

    I think I’ll purge most of my college texts and notes after I retire, when I’ll have the time to go through them as well as the assurance that I won’t need to refer to them professionally.

  75. “For muscular back pain brought on by walking >3-5 miles, should I see an orthopedist or a “sports doctor”?”

    Was it a one-time thing, walking that far and then having back pain? If that were the case, I’d be inclined to give the back some time to heal.

    If it’s an ongoing issue, then yes, I’d see a doctor. I’ve had good experiences with doctors practicing “sports medicine.” IME, they have a lot of experience with sports-related injuries, and their approach to treatment assumes you want more than to just heal, or be pain-free; you want to be able to resume an active lifestyle, sooner rather than later.

    They tend to be aggressive in getting you active again, as opposed to the just wait and let it heal approach. They also tend to assume you will be willing to put a lot of effort into PT, which is a valid assumption in my case.

  76. “hips and glutes are weak, over dependence on calves and quads for movement”

    How about your hamstrings? You probably want to balance your quad strength with strong hamstrings, so you may want to work on that.

  77. “I will try to pass it along to someone who will enjoy it now. “

    That’s a good thought. I should keep it in mind when I go through things, it might make it a little easier for me to let go of things.

    “It feels wonderful to give boxes to my friend who works with foster families in the state. “

    More generally, it feels good to give things away to people you know will make use of them.

  78. I think when the parents live in another state, it’s a lot harder to find people willing to take any of their stuff, not just books.

    It took all of one phone call. As I said, the salvation army took just about everything else in the house, even the bookshelves.

  79. How is that different?

    Because that’s what they signed up for. They aren’t paying you for one-on-one time. And they are all working on the same thing. It’s the equivalent of a group workout class, not individualized PT.

  80. I know I sound like a broken record with my frequent recommendations of Pilates, barre, and yoga, but a lot of the exercises that we do in those classes are exercises that my DH has been doing recently with a physical therapist as he works through some hip and shoulder issues that he’s been having. I sort of think of those classes as preventive PT, which is one of the reasons I try to go to them religiously.

  81. It is extremely difficult for anyone to admit that most of their stuff not in regular or specialized use lacks value to anyone outside the family commensurate with the effort required to find a new home other than landfill. If it is easy to find an organization that accepts it as a donation, then it has value. If you have to pay Got Junk to cart it away, it does not. When you are ready to downsize or have to deal with an elderly or deceased person’s stuff, there are pros who will go through the attic and closets and shelves They find all the pictures and letters and treasures and make a manageable pile for you to review, sell the things that have a market, find homes for the stuff that can be donated, and discreetly toss the rest. DH s yearly planners from the 70s or a chipped serving dish MIL distributed when Aunt Rose whom I never met died in 1982 can finally be put to rest.

  82. Meme, you are describing “Swedish death cleaning”,which I find a good idea

    Cassandra, differentiated instruction is incredibly important. I am surprised at how badly public-school teachers in Florida do it. When my son was in third grade, classroom sizes were mandated at 19 students max. His school, instead of using that smaller size for differentiated instruction, actually lumped to classes together had one teacher lecture a group of third graders, well the other filtered around and basically patrolled the kids were staying on task. Awful. It was simply awful

    Denver, you’re talking about multiple groups of people doing PT exercises? I thought it was maybe three people max, not three groups of people. Those are two very different things. And yes if I was walking people through a couple of different make up assignments I would expect them to be able to work quietly for three minutes while I did something else. Most things, whether learning exercises or physical exercises, require a bit of repetition for most people anyway

  83. Well, it looks like I just learned that talk to text is not a good solution to an extremely cracked screen. Sorry!

  84. “DH s yearly planners from the 70s or a chipped serving dish MIL distributed when Aunt Rose whom I never met died in 1982 can finally be put to rest.”
    When Kavanaugh produced his calendars from 1982 and everyone was saying “who keeps that?!” I thought, my parents, that’s who. And Meme’s DH, I guess.
    I am steeling myself for some Swedish Death Cleaning over the next couple of months as we prepare to downsize and move, so I’ll let you know how it goes. Our new house is somewhat smaller in living space, but dramatically smaller in terms of storage. So realistically, all of the “just in case” and “that preserved my mom’s memory of some relative I never met” stuff has to go. And we are the folks with 1200 books, easily. I anticipate this being a very difficult season of our lives and not without conflict. First off, I need to stop assuming we will keep my family’s stuff and discard DH’s family’s stuff. Once I realized I was doing that, the decisions became harder.

  85. I love the Container store sweater boxes. And their shoe boxes, tall shoe boxes, tall sweater boxes, etc. So far I have converted about 1/3 of my attic storage from cardboard to these clear Container store boxes. I buy them by the case.
    https://www.containerstore.com/s/closet/storage-boxes-bins/our-clear-storage-boxes/12d?productId=11004743

    ‘“You used to teach. Would you teach two or three classes at the same time? I’m thinking it wouldn’t fly if you did some brief instruction with one group of students and gave them some work to do, then went to the next group and did the same thing, then did it with a third group, while the first group was doing nothing at that point because they finished their work.”

    Umm, this belongs on the political page today because the discussion is about education and this is how differentiated instruction works. :)’

    OMG yes! This is exactly how my kids’ classrooms used to function.

    I have learned to be ruthless with relatives’ stuff handed off to us. I accept it but out it goes right away. I completely disagree with Marie Kondo’s advices re gifts. She says you should always USE a gift before you eventually discard it after wishing it a fond farewell. But I would rather donate an unused item in its original packaging instead of a slightly used item that I first tried out against my better judgement. I think that would spark more joy to the ultimate recipient.

    Speaking of Kondo, this tweet hits on one reason why I found the first episode’s couple so annoying to watch. “Babe” this and “babe” that. lol

  86. “I buy them by the case.” — Heh, I guess that just means I’m becoming a better organized hoarder.

  87. July and HFN – I have seen homes clean and organized but every closet you opened was stuffed to the gills. So were the basement and the attic. That is way too much stuff especially for couples with adult children who don’t need all that stuff. At that stage in my life, I anticipate keeping Christmas decorations and suitcases and gardening tools in my storage area but not much else. The additional items currently in our garage are big kid related.

  88. Ah, Louise, my idol. I hope to adopt your attitude and achieve closets as decluttered as my living spaces. I really do. If only I could do something about my mother’s voice in my head saying “what are you doing? That’s just LIKE you! You never did appreciate the value of anything!” reminiscent of my experience trying to donate her place mats when she moved into the CCRC.

  89. The best insight from those who preach the tidiness gospel is to prevent the stuff from finding a storage home in the house in the first place. We have sufficient room in the attic such that a big haul away every two years is enough to prevent overflow, but most of the remaining stuff needs to go, and this after most of the furniture was accepted and picked up by Salvation Army in 2016. Almost all of the unneeded boxes were moved here from Mom’s apt, DD’s cross country move, DH’s apt when it was sold, or twice moved from the young family home and never opened since 2000. What deserves retention or might merit a clear container are baby stuff and toys, just in case there is another grandchild, ancient financial records for my volunteer org, the cat carriers, suitcases, the overflow bedding, a couple of boxes of photos/mementos, the de-accessed paintings by DH’s Mom, and the original boxes for expensive watches in case I want to sell or gift them (these are often very elaborate.)

  90. My closets and cabinets are always quite organized. That’s a big part of why my living space isn’t. I refuse to stuff things away if they can’t be put away neatly. It makes a mess everywhere else. July, I love those clear boxes. We had some shoeboxes like that for Isaac’s toys in Jena. Meme why not store the blankets in the suitcases? A smart person once suggested something similar to me

  91. Louise, you’re a better person than I when it comes to minimalism. Do you all save stuff like your old high school yearbooks? Much of the stuff I’m saving in my clear plastic boxes are mementos. Like old yearbooks with inscriptions, old letters, award documents, school essays, maps I hand drew in my old jobs before computers did all the work, other old work stuff, my mother’s few hand embroidered linens, PHOTOS, etc. I’ve organized them by decade with photos in their separate boxes, so when I’m gone I think my kids can save or chuck pretty easily. Other things I’ve stashed include extra linens for houseguests, some extra house décor like candlesticks*, seasonal decorations, a card table/chairs, old paperwork that seems useful, and a few other categories.

    *When I last organized this stuff I donated about a dozen baskets, so I am a work in progress.

    “a couple of boxes of photos/mementos”

    See, it would be very hard to cut mine down to two boxes. Even just my photos take up about 8 boxes. (I realize I need to cull and digitize but I don’t see that happening within the next couple of years.)

  92. I love California closets (or similar custom closets). It’s the thing that keeps us organized and the number of things in the closets in check.
    Now, that the kids are older, DH wants the closet consultants to come in again and reconfigure the kids closets to match their current needs.

  93. At this point we are planning for a big winter snow storm this weekend. We are planning to make a couple of soups that take a while (longer than we’d invest in food prep during the work week), eat part and set aside/freeze part for another day’s dinner. And, on the theory we’ll stay home all day Sunday and Monday (I have Monday as a work holiday and DW is just planning to take the day off; the snow isn’t really supposed to start till later Saturday) maybe, just maybe I can finally devote some time to organizing parts of the basement: my workbench area,
    the accumulated shipping and gift boxes,
    the seasonal decorations (we really only decorate for fall/Halloween and Christmas anymore, so hopefully I can get buy in to get rid of non sentimental things for all other events)
    books!
    binders and other school-related stuff, especially if it’s the kids’ from HS and before.

    Ambitious list for me, but once started I know I’ll want to keep going. It’s the starting that’s hard. So many other, actually fun, things to do.

  94. July – since I could bring only two suitcases when I came to the U.S. and we have had a few moves, I guess I have only a few items that I am sentimental about keeping.

  95. Louise,

    Where do you put the crockpot, the Instant Pot, the bread machine, the dehydrator, the Kitchen Aid mixer (and attachments), the food processor, the Blendec blender, the hand mixer, the immersion blender, the toaster, the toaster oven, and the second microwave?

    And yes, I use most of them. Because of DH’s eating restrictions, it’s quite hard to eat out or order in. No pizza for us, ever. So I cook constantly.

    I should probably get rid of the bread machine, because bread = carbs.

  96. “If only I could do something about my mother’s voice in my head saying “what are you doing? That’s just LIKE you! You never did appreciate the value of anything!” reminiscent of my experience trying to donate her place mats when she moved into the CCRC.”

    LOL. It’s funny because it’s true.

    My issue with organizing/decluttering stuff is that I tend to treat “stuff” like wine: it needs to age a bit before I am ready to do something with it. I mean, when DD came home from preschool with all of these cute little drawings and her first adorable attempts at making letters, how could I throw those out? So I have a whole deep drawer full of her preschool stuff (note that this was only the “best” preschool stuff, too — probably only 5% of what she brought home). Now I can look at those things and cut them down by about 98% — she has so much more-interesting work these days, so most of the early stuff just isn’t as heart-twanging as it was when I was in the midst of marveling at how much new stuff she was learning every day.

    The problem is that this means I need (1) long-term storage for a bunch of crap; and (2) the desire 15 years down the road to actually go through all of the stuff I have stored. I’m good at (1), not so much with (2). ;-)

  97. On a totally different topic: anyone have experience with Princeton, especially their engineering program? DD has an interview, looking for suggestions on dos/don’ts, good questions to ask, etc.

  98. RMS – our kitchen has enough storage for these. That said we haven’t used our over the counter mini oven and fryer in ages. The slow cooker needs to get used more. I did not buy a spiralizer or an apple corer because they would get used infrequently. If it’s in the back of a cabinet it’s not coming out.

  99. Well I JUST got rid of all baby clothes preemie to size 18 months. All are going to good homes through a friend who has a preemie and the RI foster system. My attic now has 6 fewer tote bins. And it feels good.

    Next up is our bedroom, which has become a dumping ground for all sorts of things from college and grad school text books and notes to bags of clothes to donate to stuff for the organization I volunteer for.

    We’ll also deconstruct the small plastic play structure in our basement and give it to a friend. By next year, her daughter will be big enough to use it. I’ll also give her a small ride-on scooter thing. My kids have outgrown this all. Then I can tackle cleaning parts of the basement because I’ll be able to get to them.

  100. @Rocky: well, I’m not convinced it’s the right place for her (thus my questions about their engineering program; I’d like to know more about the school than its name and the periodic news firestorm over alumna advice to young women). And it is just an interview — still very much a longshot. But I do want her to have as many options available as possible, and she is intimidated by this interview in a way she wasn’t for the others she has had.

    [On a sadder note from her perspective, she hasn’t gotten an interview request from Columbia, which is very very high on her “in love with” list, so I assume that means she didn’t even make that initial cut there. Not a shock given the numbers, but she will be disappointed anyway.]

  101. And speaking of college stuff, I was blown away by the MN Engineering Honors college numbers — see https://admissions.tc.umn.edu/honors/review.html. Holy cow! It’s funny, I was assuming DD would be a shoe-in for the honors colleges at the publics she is applying to based on my niece’s experience, but not so much! (And I also just found out that my niece did not apply to their engineering school, which would have been nice to know! Apparently MN offers Computer Science through two colleges, so my niece chose the one with the easier admissions criteria. ;-)).

  102. “It’s the starting that’s hard. So many other, actually fun, things to do.”

    So true.
    What can be worse than not starting at all is starting but having to leave the project half-finished.
    And being grateful that the cleaning people aren’t coming until NEXT week, so that the various piles and half-filled boxes can stay right where they are until the project can be completed.

    Books like college texts or travel guides are much more useful to others if they can be donated before outdated. Same with clothing, shoes, etc. I found a big stack of DVD/video guides from the pre-Internet days — fortunately, we have Better World Books bins that will take ANY book in any condition.

  103. My electrician is here. Finally, getting a new dining room fixture. Some of these things have bene on my list forever. I had to cancel another day because someone hit a ConEd pole a few blocks away and we had no power for most of a day.

    These posts are great motivation for me because I have to be home so I am upstairs going through some old papers.

  104. Fred, Starting is hard, but wow it feels good. I kept some of the holiday break energy going by buying some paint to touch up the walls on my last day off and extended my ‘project’ mentality to the following weekend. My interior walls are almost all the same color, so touching up the paint above the mantel (which was need because I replaced our big clock) turned into touching up pretty much every wall in every room.

  105. California Closet ads always make me laugh because I think “if my closets were as big as the one in the ad, I wouldn’t need closet organizers”

  106. “Louise, you’re a better person than I when it comes to minimalism. Do you all save stuff like your old high school yearbooks? Much of the stuff I’m saving in my clear plastic boxes are mementos. ”
    I do the same, although I am lucky that my sister stores a lot of that stuff, like HS yearbooks. She gets all anal about only using archival grade boxes, so she doesn’t trust me to do it right.

  107. When we remodeled our master closet got significantly smaller. The closet company came in (not California Closet) and wanted $2500 to put up a very simple design. We have very limited space, so there isn’t much to do. We ended up using the online design help of IKEA and spent $400. I will say the closet company gave us an idea of what we wanted, but I think the project was too small that they charged a lot hoping we wouldn’t take it.

  108. Mooshi – our closets are normal sized not gigantic walk in closets. Both our houses are/were older with limited space.
    In our houses the built in adjustable shelving, drawers, hanging area has really made a difference in organization. To us it’s definitely money well spent.

    The Container store bins are a good idea that I must check on.

  109. I have my yearbooks, but I have nothing else on those lists. Essays?? From high school? You just about gave me a heart attack thinking of the boxes of crap. ;) Those were tossed out immediately in 1992. Neither DH & I have ever kept a single textbook, and I have no idea when I would ever reference them. If I need to refresh on a concept I learned in college, I have The Google. (And The Google is probably more up-to-date than textbooks form the 90’s anyway.) I have some Spanish-English and French-English dictionaries and grammar references, but that’s about it.

    I am young enough that I don’t have decades of pre-digital photos. I have a box of photos from HS & college, but most post-college and ALL wedding and family photos are digital. I print very few of them.

    The other thing is – I don’t bother dithering about where to donate/sell much if no one wants it after a quick check. I generally throw it the *&^% out. If there is any value, the scavengers will take it.

  110. Foreign language dictionaries are easy for me to dump, except for languages or language pairs that might otherwise be difficult to find. Will I ever again use a German-Somali dictionary? I don’t know, but I have it to give to whoever I meet who could use it. But a plain old Larousse EnglishFrench dictionary? No problem. But Gramscii’s writings are as much about humanity as about Italy during his lifetime, so they’re evergreen and always worth returning to. Those are online too, but I like that kind of thing on paper. Besides, my notes are in there.

    Mooshi, I have a couple bins I’d like to send your sister for processing!

    Lemon Tree, was this recently done, or can you comment on the durability of your Ikea closet organizers yet?

    LfB, I suppose getting recruitment emails for their summer programs doesn’t mean anything, does it? If your daughter can’t get a second look from Colombia, I wonder if I should bother encouraging my son to do a summer program there. And do you know what they do in Honors Engineering? We happened across a girl in my niece’s engineering honors program at OSU who posted lots of projects from that program, along with the rest of the semester; there is nothing she posted that my kid wouldn’t have been able to do in 7th or 8th grade. Huh? I realize Ohio State isn’t Ivy League, but still, it’s surprising, and makes me wonder.

  111. One of my neighbors has a son that is now a junior and he took some classes during the summer at Columbia. The kids that I know that take summer classes are generally able to enroll in almost any university if you can pay the fees. There are some special programs that require an invitation, but most do not have strict admit requirements. I’m also not sure if that really helps with admission to the university, but it can be a great experience if your son wants to do that for part of the summer.

  112. “LfB, I suppose getting recruitment emails for their summer programs doesn’t mean anything, does it? If your daughter can’t get a second look from Colombia, I wonder if I should bother encouraging my son to do a summer program there”
    Those are just money makers for the universities. I know someone who did a program like that at Princeton and got all excited about maybe going to Princeton, but she didn’t get in. If your kid aspires to a competitive university, it is better to spend the summer doing things like volunteer work, research projects, studying for SATs, internships, study abroad programs, etc. The one exception is if the program is at a school where your kid can realistically get into, and the program would help him decide if this is the school/major for him. My kid did one last summer to help him understand what an architecture major would be like, and it was very useful (and interesting).

  113. OSU has an excellent engineering program. What kind of projects were these? Were they just little extras done as part of the honors college or were they class assignments? My kid doesn’t have projects in his honors program, but he had to complete an honors seminar, attend a bunch of colloquia, and starting next semester, do some number of hours of service work. He is going to be tutoring Newark public school kids in math and computing.

  114. Class assignments, by the looks of it–designing & programming Lego Technic vehicles, making a rocket.

    I want him to do a summer program to give him an idea of what college, any kind of college, is like. He’s got high intellectual ability. My not-so-secret hope is that he’d enjoy a summer program at a HSS so much that he’d be ready to work for it during the school year.

  115. @SM – those may have been legit class assignments; it’s hard to tell what they are actually teaching looking from the outside. For ex, DD’s favorite school starts the kids off designing and building something that hops. That kind of project can be as simple or as complex as you want; I mean, you can teach it in elementary school with tongue depressors and rubber bands. When Olin does the hoppers, though, they teach college-level calculus and physics and materials science and mechanical engineering and such as part of doing the project.

  116. A lot of engineering programs have a freshman “Introduction to Design Thinking” course that is intended to get students into the engineering mindset. Since they kids don’t have a lot of skills yet, the projects tend to be things like the infamous concrete canoe project, or designing bridges. I took one when I was an undergrad – I remember one project was “an egg that does something active”. I took a L’eggs pantyhose egg, attached a babydoll head, put tubing through, and voila! a drink and wet egg (modelled after those drink n’ wet dolls from my childhood)
    But those courses are designed to be fun and easy. The real work is in the massive problem sets, programming projects, etc of the mainstram classes.

  117. “recruitment emails for their summer programs doesn’t mean anything, does it? If your daughter can’t get a second look from Colombia, I wonder if I should bother encouraging my son to do a summer program there.”

    I generally agree with this reponse:

    “I’m also not sure if that really helps with admission to the university, but it can be a great experience if your son wants to do that for part of the summer.”

    SM, it really depends on what you hope your DS will get out of the summer program.

    If it’s a leg up on admissions, everything I’ve heard says it won’t help. I’ve also heard that in some cases it can hurt chances; while most of these programs are not directly connected to the colleges that host them, the people working in the programs often are connected to the hosting colleges, and undesirable behaviors or traits that might not get caught by the normal admissions process may become known.

    But if you’re looking for something for your DS to do, I would suggest you look into these programs. It is potentially a chance for your DS to meet kids with whom he has a lot in common and whose company he would enjoy, and it could get him more excited about college.

  118. “A lot of engineering programs have a freshman “Introduction to Design Thinking” course that is intended to get students into the engineering mindset.”

    For me it was ME113, one of the most fun classes I’ve ever had.

  119. “she hasn’t gotten an interview request from Columbia, which is very very high on her “in love with” list”

    I’m sorry I didn’t suggest it early enough for LfB’s DD, but for anyone with a DD aspiring to Columbia, I suggest also looking into Barnard. One of DS’ best friends goes there, and IIRC none of her classes are all female, which means all of her classes are with Columbia students.

    It was very, very tough for some kids I know to turn down Columbia.

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