197 thoughts on “Tuesday open thread

  1. How’s the weather? Any change? My Cleveland sister is sending pix of snow and her husband using their new snow blower. That’s typical for there this time of year, I think. But my family along I-70 is also sending snowy photos; that’s quite unusual. Here in Berlin, it’s grey, chilly, and damp, as it has been for a month. The shortening of days continues, of course, but not as noticeably. The lack of change probably bothers me more than anything but else. It will stay this way until Feb. The unvarying heat made July in Florida awful for me, but the really bad part is that it had been that way since May, and stayed that way until October. For other people, changing weather is a problem. How about you?

  2. I like the change of seasons. It’s colder, drier, and sunny now and for the next few days. It’s nice.

    DD – I’m having a hard time following the latest Fargo. I loved the previous seasons.

    It’s weird watching Alex Trebek host Jeopardy knowing that he passed away since the show was recorded. I’m surprised that he was still able to work. His illness and death feel more real to me than other celebrities.

  3. Yeah 5″ of heavy wet snow on the ground in Cleveland this morning from the pic I got from DS2. Additional 3-9″ accumulating thru tomorrow per the Natl Weather Svc.

  4. Experiencing warm weather in the midst of the short rains. Not happy with how some people are irresponsible when it comes to taking care of the environment. Appreciating the fact that I am breathing naturally.

  5. Milo, I think it got too spread out with the various storylines. They tied them together at the end, but I think this season was in the middle.

    I agree it’s really weird seeing Trebek on Jeopardy.

    My PSA for the day: if your mom is at the end of her life, let her spend her last two months at home with her husband and cat instead of shuffling her between the hospital and rehab.

  6. We had massive winds and driving rain yesterday, but thankfully it wasn’t too cold. Today is just cloudy and not too cold. Snow, snow, stay away

  7. axx54 thank you for the neck massager recommendation. I may add that to my christmas list.

  8. We have sunshine in Seattle! It’s in the 40s – although whenever it’s sunny, DS expects it to be warm and then is surprised when he goes outside and it’s still cold :-)

    I would happily live in a place with one season if that one season was sunny and warm. Like Hawaii.

  9. It is sunny and almost warm here. Not actually good weather. There is no rain in the forecast for the next few weeks, some weather services forecast no rain for the rest of the year.

    Like Seattle, I would be happy to live somewhere that was sunny and warm. It’s just that pesky problem about making a living.

  10. I think snow is fair game any time after Thanksgiving for most of the northern portions of the US. Same for Rockies and other mountains. No snow her yet, but we are lucky because we’ve been getting so much rain that it would be a lot of snow if it was colder. Our Con Ed bill is much lower this year since the temps in October weren’t too hot or cold.

    Our HS was open yesterday and today, but DD told me that no one is there in person. The reason is that hundreds of kids and 1/4 of the teachers had to quarantine for two weeks when some sick kids came to school two weeks ago. The kids don’t want to go in person in case they have to quarantine again. Also, it is easier to cheat according to DD. I won’t get into any details because I am sure that my totebag kid never cheats. I told DD that she attend in person next week if there aren’t cases in the HS. There are more cases around here, but many of the positives are adults. Several of my friends – especially the dads are sick with the virus. All indoor meetups or car rides so there is connection. The fear about college kids hasn’t materialized yet because so many of the kids had the virus at college.

  11. Last night it got down to freezing. It has been a milder November than usual; we often get a couple of almost or just below freezing night time temperatures in November. The cloudy/rainy/sunny days seem about the same.

    Regarding the time change – a friend was telling me how the past couple of years the fall time change has been much harder. Her hypothesis is that moving it later in the year when the days are already getting shorter makes it harder than when we changed a month earlier.

    DD – I was pleasantly surprised when my mom was at that end of life phase that the hospital, the skilled nursing, and in-patient hospice all allowed me to bring her cat to visit. I went from visiting every third to every other to every day with cat in tow. I just had to have updated shots and a vet visit within the past year….oh yeah and of course fill out a form at each place. I wish my mom could have been at home longer, but that just wasn’t an option.

    Lastly, I am seeing some new handles. Do we have some new participants or are we in a handle shift again?

  12. Lauren, the kids are cheating even while in class at our HS. The teachers have given up on phone bans – I think they can’t get close enough to police the phones – so the kids are all exchanging info on Discord during tests and class writing assignments. At least this is what DD tells me.
    I monitor my DD’s app usage, and so far I haven’t seen her do anything that looks like out and cheating. I see lots of messages being sent by kids who I know are physically in class at the time they are sending stuff. I don’t see how anyone is focusing.

  13. We’ve had a pretty nice fall, but this week it is very cold – hovering around freezing even for the high. Luckily we are on the right side of the lake as we have only had flurries. Not too far away, they are already deep into the lake effect snow.

    I cannot figure out what temperature to set on our thermostat. It’s not zoned even though we have multiple levels, and the sensor is in the kitchen. During the day/evening, the kitchen is warm (sunshine plus cooking) and the rest of the house is cold. But then at night, the kitchen must get very cold because in the middle of the night, the heat starts pumping into our bedrooms & I wake up sweating. But I don’t want it to be cold when I wake up & shower. We have a Nest – I don’t know if it would work to add more sensors or if I just need to figure out how to work out a schedule with crazy temperature settings (e.g., way lower than I actually want it to be at night and higher than I want it to be during the day).

  14. I never realized until today that I’ve probably lived within 25 miles of I70 for my entire life. My variance has been east and west. I would say a big storm would be a little early, but definitely not unusual to see snow anytime November or after.

    I do enjoy the change of seasons, but the older I get, the more tired I am of winter. I really don’t like cold, and because of our location, we often get ice as part of our winter storms. With my DH’s health, he’s also not the one dealing with snow on the driveway. Now that both DS’s have moved out, I will be missing them on those snowy days. I guess this year, I don’t have to go in to the office, so I’ll probably worry about it a lot less. Our drive faces north so we get very little natural melting.

  15. Our highs are in the 50s, lows in the high 20s/30s – mostly bright, some scattered showers. It’s three months of colder weather, it starts getting brighter by mid Jan.
    Spring begins in March.

    On schools – my older kid has mostly all tests and quizzes in lockdown browser now due to the cheating.

  16. So, if kids can’t (or at least don’t have to) take standardized tests due to Covid, and grades are suspect due to rampant cheating due to remote/hybrid learning, and lots of extracurriculars are cancelled for the foreseeable future, how on earth are college admissions going to work? Personally, I think “parents’ ability to pay” is going to be a heavily-weighted criterion for the HS Class of 2021, and maybe Class of 2022 as well.

  17. As for weather, right now it’s lousy! Gray, gray, gray, and really wet. All the humidity has made for a really bad hair day.

  18. My kids are hoping for snow this year. The total experience will be lost though as instead of no school, it will be remote school. If it snows it will be a big deal, but like a good guest whose company you enjoy but don’t want them to linger it will be gone in a day or so.

  19. We really had unseasonably warm weather through last week, topped off yesterday with a warm sort of rain, and now today is finally the snap — it was *cold* this morning when I poked my head out. December-appropriate.

    I just hope we have a more regular winter here. We’ve had a couple of Seattle-type winters in a row, with lots of grey and rain and drizzle and just generally miserable, and I miss the crisp and cold and snow. Especially because this year I *really* don’t need to actually go out in it!

  20. “how on earth are college admissions going to work? Personally, I think “parents’ ability to pay” is going to be a heavily-weighted criterion for the HS Class of 2021, ”

    Yep, that is how it is going to work. The schools are desperate for revenue. There was a big article in the Chronicle about the issue. There are two reasons for the decline in revenue – fewer students, and for the big schools, no revenue sports.

  21. “my older kid has mostly all tests and quizzes in lockdown browser now due to the cheating.”

    Many schools are now forbidding the use of lockdown browser and other camera based proctoring services. CUNY is one of them. I will also note that I have evaluated lockdown browser, and realized it doesn’t work. It doesn’t pick up what students are typing, just their faces, so there is no proof of cheating.

  22. Sunny with a high of 70 today! First tiny tomato in the garden and some impressively large courgettes on the vine.

    People keep asking me if it weird to have Christmas in a place so warm. It’s not the warmth that’s weird – I’ve lived in California over the holiday. It’s so light – 5a-9p right now. We have a small christmas tree with lights – but I don’t turn them on in the evening, because it’s so bright in our living room – the sun comes directly in as it sets.

  23. Personally, I think “parents’ ability to pay” is going to be a heavily-weighted criterion for the HS Class of 2021, ”

    And keep in mind the offering of merit aid was often part of an attempt to boost a schools US News ranking. Those rankings will also be unreliable. Presumably that will take the pressure off those advocating for maximizing revenue at the expense of student quality.

  24. @DD – the issue is that no one knows, or is willing to acknowledge that the last two months are the last two months.

    In a FB group, there was a doc lamenting that she had been on the phone her whole shift – calling hospitals in 2 states trying to find an ICU bed for an elderly patient who was COVID+ and needed a neurosurgeon and dialysis. (I’m honestly not trying to start a political discussion). Someone (not me!) was like, “Nope, what this patient needs is a goals of care discussion and admission to a hospice bed, that’s what we do in NZ.”

  25. For kids entering college in Fall 2021, it may seem like a great opportunity for those who are full pay to get into a place a few notches above where they might otherwise get in because of lower demand (fewer parents willing to shell out for a less than usual on-campus experience). A great opportunity for colleges/financial aid departments to reset the “normal” discount which has gotten wildly inflated over the past 10-15yrs.

    But also note, pandemic aside for a moment, demographics might work to offset that, The # of kids graduating high school will continue to decline from now through 2025 or 2026 meaning colleges will have to compete more for applications and enrollment.

  26. My DD’s high school is giving grades and there is no easing up in the assessment process for Covid. Her HS had one quarter with pass/fail, but the rest of her grades were real grades. The kids and the parents are annoyed because it isn’t like any other year, but the teachers and administration are sticking to a tough grading policy. It isn’t easy to cheat when there are multiple versions of the test or essays. A lot of DD’s tests were in person until this week because over 90% of the students were going to school until the week before Thanksgiving. They don’t have their phones in the classroom. Even at home, there are multiple versions of the test and it isn’t easy to cheat in every class. Some classes- yes, but not all classes.

    Also, some kids will have standardized test scores. Many of DD’s friends are on the Finn schedule and they took the SAT or ACT in August, Sept or Oct. My kid is scheduled for December, but it might get canceled since the HS where she is taking the exam is closed this week. Her high school opened one day in October for seniors that wanted to take the SAT. They are willing to do this again for the juniors, but about 1/2 of the kids are focusing on the ACT so they have to test some where else because there aren’t many places around here that offer the ACT. I realize that some states will never open so those kids won’t have a standardized test score.

    There are TONS of free webinars and other things that you can read about how the colleges will evaluate kids for the class of 2021 and 2022. Many kids are still doing activities. It might not be the traditional clubs or sports, but kids are helping in their communities or even working to help support their own family. The admissions officers know that the grades are down across the board due to remote learning. They know there are minimal to no sports or clubs. They also know that all kids should have a “story” and this will become more important for the applications vs. standardized tests. The essays and recommendations will be more important than ever. Also, money is one factor, but most of the schools in the top 100 will still have an excessive amount of qualified applicants.

    As for the thousands of other universities, it might be easier to get accepted. The question is will kids want to go AND when will students return from other countries. The colleges were addicted to the income from the full pay foreign students. Many schools including large public universities in a lot of states were admitting more of those students every year. If a vaccine is effective, it is possible that those foreign students will come back for 2022 or 2023. If not, that creates more space for applicants for the US, but will they be able to afford to attend these schools??

  27. @DD – the issue is that no one knows, or is willing to acknowledge that the last two months are the last two months.

    Ada, It’s the acknowledgement that is the problem. It was pretty obvious that it was the last few months, and I had a long talk with the daughter about hospice, but she refused to consider it.

  28. Those rankings will also be unreliable.

    They already are unreliable because the schools have all been trying to game the system.

  29. @DD – the issue is that no one knows, or is willing to acknowledge that the last two months are the last two months.

    That’s certainly part of it. But I also think the medical profession in the US has more faith in what it can do than is warranted by current technology. The American public also tends to have more faith in what is medically possible than is warranted by current technology.

  30. This may be a really dumb question, but how do schools know whether parents are going to pay the full ride or apply for aid? Don’t you apply to the school before you apply for aid?

    (We are clearly still quite removed from the actual application process.)

  31. Lark – I have read the the full pay students tend to apply early decision/early action.

  32. I wonder if admissions counselors plan to cut a ton of slack with extracurricular activities and sports involvement during the pandemic, or if kids in states with more extreme shutdowns or from families who took pandemic precautions will be at a disadvantage.

  33. DD’s HS is also giving grades and lots of homework. Lauren, how are the teachers policing no phones? The issue here, as I understand it, is that teachers can’t circulate because the class is being broadcast on Zoom to the remote students. So the kids just hide their phones under their books or desk. They also all have their Chromebooks open so that hides the view too.

    Even with multiple versions, it is really easy to cheat. The kids just throw all the versions up on Chegg and then start working on it. One of our faculty members told us that his exam questions were on Chegg within 5 minutes of the exam starting. They organize in Discord or WhatsApp. At my oldest kid’s school, some professors now have a policy that if an exam question shows up on Chegg, he or she presumes everyone looked at it and hauls them all before the honor board.

  34. Lark, Unsure this is everywhere, but in Texas public schools, the aid application is part of the general admission application.

  35. “For kids entering college in Fall 2021, it may seem like a great opportunity for those who are full pay to get into a place a few notches above where they might otherwise get in because of lower demand”

    I’ve totally seen this in my friend group–especially with SLACs.

  36. My BITD experience is now beginning to mirror DD#1’s college classes testing process. BITD (and maybe still) my college worshiped the bell shaped curve to the point those applying for tenure had their grading scrutinized for inflation. The way almost every professor handled this was to make tests (we were never graded on homework) harder than they needed to be, students rarely got anywhere close to even a mid-B, then they curved to get the bell shape. My neighbor was an EE major (like my DD#1) and he was usually the one setting the curve with the highest grade. In those days they posted your SSN and your grade on the wall outside the profs. office. One semester, he got the highest grade on the final (50% of total grade) – a 20 (yes out of 100) and all his classmates were angry because the next best grade was 11. He ended up with the only A because of the disparity between 20 and 11.

    DD#1 says that once tests were online, the difficulty and length ramped up significantly, while the time to complete the test and the different versions of the test all make it harder to cheat. She said if you know the material well and you spend the entire time working on your own you likely won’t finish or just barely. If you spend anytime trying to coordinate with another person, you will not finish. Her “downside” is that a number of teachers are not curving and grades across-the-board are dropping. She hates this because she feels that it isn’t really testing if she knows the material or how to apply it for someone at her level and while she intellectually knows how this “game” works, it still chips a bit away at her confidence. Her experience is not as bad as my BITD, but the test averages have gone from 75-80 pre-COVID to 65-70.

  37. Ugh. Venting. We had a house appraisal today. The appraiser told me that she was surprised by a “critter” in our attic. Yay. I’m sure that will help our appraisal value! And now I have to find a wildlife company to remove “critter”. I thought of Rhett because if you could stomach dealing with critters, which I absolutely cannot, you could make good money. First available appointment is for 12/10 and costs $250 for initial inspection and then $650 for setting traps and then who knows how much for repairs. I guess the kids are getting a new “pet” for Christmas :)

  38. Some schools claim that they are need blind and that the admissions officers don’t know if you need financial aid..Most schools can’t afford to be completely need blind so they will know if your family submits a FAFSA and/or CSS(College Scholarship Profile. Some Totebag families won’t qualify for need based financial aid, but the kids will qualify for merit aid. The schools are nosey and they usually require a CSS if your kid is interested in merit aid. It is yet another way for the College Board to collect data about your kid and your family.

    https://cssprofile.collegeboard.org

  39. Generally you file your FAFSA at the same time as your application or shortly after.

  40. MM, I am not sure if my post was clear, but it is easy to police no phones when there are only 8-12 kids in a classroom. Until last week, all of DD’s assessments were in school. Her high school only closed a couple of days and most kids were in school until 2 (!!!) juniors got sick and then a lot of kids and teachers had to quarantine.

  41. A million years ago, there was a check box – Are you applying for aid?

    Yes, it’s still there. Obviously they don’t know how much aid you’ll need until they get the FAFSA, but it’s a great initial sorting mechanism.

  42. I think admissions is going to have to rethink their processes. Our local flagship that has to admit every student who applies and is in the top X% (percent varies by year) of their high school class, then does a second round of holistic reviews to determine it the applicant will be offered the major they want or a different less rigorous one/geared toward their level of ability. We heard one of their admissions officers speak. The bottom line was after grades/test scores, which those who are in the top 6% (last year) of their class usually meet, the decision mainly fell on “tell us your story” in a way that shows you have the academic/technical/skill/talent (depends on major) background (usually grades, awards, etc.) and the softer skills like initiative, perseverance, etc. (usually extra curriculars were used as a surrogate plus the essay) to be successful in the major you chose. Of course, those students/families that can (or paid to) craft that story well do much better in getting into their major.

  43. Rio, I participated via Zoom to several of these calls with admissions officers and they all continue to emphasize that they know what is happening and they won’t penalize kids. The best explanation I heard was from the admissions officer of a SLAC; she told a story about a student that drove form California to Nevada to take the SAT even though the family was told numerous times that the test wasn’t required. The officer said why are parents insisting that a four hour test in a room with a mask is worth risking your physical health?? She said they look at years of work vs. a 4 hour test in a room with a mask. There were several other admissions officers on the call from UT, Duke and Penn. They all said the same thing. They think it is the parents that don’t believe that the admissions officers are going to be fair about anything that is missing due to the virus. Test scores, activities, sports. Some even mentioned kids that have to take care of younger siblings. Babysitting, driving, tutoring. Some mentioned work due to parents that are ill. They seem to know that the usual list of extracurriculars might not be there for a number of reasons relate to the virus.

  44. “Of course, those students/families that can (or paid to) craft that story well do much better in getting into their major.”

    That’s unfortunate. The new system seems even more likely to favor the wealthier students.

    My observation is that there seem to be many open book tests and professors may just be accepting that students will cheat. The lockdown browser is not perfect. This is all a bummer, but the old system was certainly not perfect.

  45. “MM, I am not sure if my post was clear, but it is easy to police no phones when there are only 8-12 kids in a classroom”
    Our teachers do not seem to have that ability. The problem is that they have to stay on camera range for the remote students so they can’t walk around the class and see who has their phone in their lap. I can actually sympathize because I know it is hard to monitor in our classrooms unless I am constantly walking around. Are your teachers not teaching remote students at the same time as they run the live class?

  46. “Obviously they don’t know how much aid you’ll need until they get the FAFSA, but it’s a great initial sorting mechanism.”

    It’s not that hard to identify a family’s financial status from other elements of the application. Zip code, high school name, parent employment, xc activities reveal a lot — especially at the upper end of the income distribution. You don’t need to look at the financial aid box.

  47. TCM – Sorry about your critter. Are you moving?

    After our neighbor’s house sold quickly for an unprecedented high price, we are considering another renovation to upgrade both for our enjoyment and for a better sale price down the (maybe short) road. I hate hate hate to think about going through a reno, having suffered through our previous one, but here we are. We’re thinking of redoing the kitchen as well as adding a small bathroom and a wide dormer to the third floor bedroom. Timing is unknown, and we are still in the early discussion stage.

  48. Just got finished with a bunch project demos in my grad dbms course. It is pretty clear to me that some of them were collaborating more than they should have, because the same weirdly dumb design idea showed up in several of the demos.

    Back to real work…

  49. “ It’s not that hard to identify a family’s financial status from other elements of the application. Zip code, high school name, parent employment, xc activities reveal a lot”

    We would be fairly ambiguous here.

  50. MM, I actually thought the assessment process was ridiculous because the teachers were wasting days for assessments, but now I understand why they might have sacrificed teaching days based on your feedback. There are two cohorts. The M/T and Th/F. Kids would test in school with their cohort. The remote kids would just work on an assignment at home. The camera wasn’t on when the other cohort was in the classroom taking a test. To make it fair, the order would flip each time. The parents were frustrated because we thought our kids were missing a lot of instruction days since there always seemed to be an in person test. The tests were different and DD sometimes scored higher when she had to take the test before the other cohort. Some kids started to be remote due to an exposure and they were required to take the test with their cohort in their home. Their camera had to be on, but I guess the kid at home could cheat.

    All bets are off now because most of the kids are home. DD said there are more essay and problem based exams in AP Bio and Social Studies. AP Bio is really hard and even with access to some materials – DD is struggling on her assessments. Language includes some recorded exams.

  51. Ada mentioned the many hours of light she was enjoying now. Here it’s 3:30pm and the house is dark even with all the window blinds open. On cloudy days like today it starts to get dark inside around this time in the afternoon. Even on sunny days by 4:30pm it starts to get dark.

  52. Lauren, I wasn’t thinking of just during tests, but during regular class as well. Even though they aren’t cheating because they aren’t taking a test, the constant chitter chatter via the phones (and likely some gameplaying as well) means they probably are not paying attention like they should. It is a problem when DD is at home. I take her phone, but I can see from the stream of notifications that kids I KNOW are in physical class are sending out snaps and insta messages at the same time. And even without a phone, I have to constantly check her Chromebook screen to make sure she isn’t playing solitaire or looking at YouTube instead of listening to the teacher.

  53. “We would be fairly ambiguous here.”

    Yes, but you are an atypical full pay family (who wouldn’t actually pay full price for a ritzy private school). If admissions staffers want a quick way to identify full pay families, looking for applicants from New Trier/Langley/Walt Whitman/Georgetown Prep/Scarsdale who play tennis/golf/field hockey and whose parents went to graduate school will do the trick. It’s a blunt force instrument, not a surgical tool.

  54. MM, the phone is the #1 reason that DD wants to go back to in person learning. She said her phone is a huge distraction when she is at home. We offered to help and take it away for certain classes etc, but she said no. It is exactly as you describe and I even get dizzy when I have to do something on her phone because it is constant texts, snaps and other. constant!

  55. Lark, DS said his grad school application asked something along the lines of “will you still attend if you do not receive an assistantship/financial aid”? He answered yes, but is considered independent for financial aid for grad school and has held only unpaid gigs, so I have no idea what that means for him.

  56. Scarlett is right and it is very easy for me to spot as an alum interviewer. I didn’t even have a full application, but I have the name of the HS and their activities. For example, most of the young women that I meet participate in one of these sports: lacrosse, field hockey, sailing, ski, soccer and swim. I’ve been interviewing for years and I was finally assigned a student from a lower income family. I knew right away because of the name of her HS and her activities. She worked – two jobs in real places. These weren’t fancy or fake jobs for a resume. She was a star on her softball and volleyball teams, but all school related teams. No private travel teams. Her summers were spent at work. No summer college programs, or expensive programs that sent her overseas.

    The zip code thing doesn’t work as well around here because we have some weird things with zip codes. For example, my zip code is the same as another town. I don’t live any where near this town. In fact, other Totebaggers live closer to this community than me, but this is my zip. So, any time that I have to give my address – some people make certain assumptions that aren’t true. Admissions officers don’t need to rely on zip codes from this county because most towns are known by their school district. I think I once shared on the Totebag that the admissions officer for my college shared that they expect students from those zip codes or districts to have test scores and GPAs that are substantially higher than a kid from a neighboring area. They assume that most kids will have a paid college advisor, private tutor for standardized test and parents that can help with schoolwork.

  57. Today, DS1 went to his home school for the first time ever!!! Busing starts tomorrow, so he’ll have his BFF back. I’m so happy for him. He came home happy and less stressed. And I can work from home so easily. It’s almost tempting to work remotely more. But I’m not crazy. And I miss my office too much.

    The weather is November – wet and windy. We had a massive storm last night that delivered a lot of rain. No snow in sight. And not December weather at all.

  58. Kim – I’m slightly east of you. The sun is setting in 5 minutes. Last light will be around 4:35pm. We are doing our “night” walk now.

  59. It is too warm for December!!! I would prefer snow. Sigh.

    We had a tree that was a teeny bit cracked from the storm in May that cracked some more last week. It was leaning over the road, so I called the DPW yesterday and they said it’s your tree, your responsibility. DH was planning to take it down today with some cabling, etc., so it wouldn’t fall in the road, and then it fell over yesterday in the rain anyway! The police and DPW came and cut it up so it got out of the road. Now we just need to figure out how to move all the tree pieces out of the yard (there are a ton since DH cut down 4 other trees last week – 3 where the garage will go and 1 that was similarly cracked and leaning) and into the compost area at the back of the lot.

  60. “The male is barricaded inside and not answering the door. Everyone else is outside the house. They are trying to get him to open up.”

    Said the dispatcher quoted in “Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh was ‘barricaded’ in a shed when blaze broke out, as colleagues suspect his addiction to burning candles, Grey Goose vodka, and nitrous oxide whippets triggered the explosion that led to his death” (Daily Mail).

    Recently… nitrous oxide had become his drug of choice, taking it in the form of ‘whippets’ straight from the cartridge of a whipped cream dispenser. ‘He would take dozens of them a day,’ the colleague said. ‘He lived a crazy, eccentric life. The drugs often made him hallucinate, he became paranoid — that could explain why he barricaded himself in,’ he added. ‘Tony was very fond of candles. He liked to set the atmosphere.’ ‘The guess is that he managed to ignite one of the nitrous oxide canisters which caused a small explosion that killed him.’…

    https://althouse.blogspot.com/2020/12/the-male-is-barricaded-inside-and-not.html

  61. I’ve given up trying to do things in daylight, unless I’m working out in the park with my suspension gear. It’s light for less than 8 hours a day. I don’t like getting up in the dark, and around dusk, say 3:30-4:30 pm, I don’t like to be outside. It seems colder to me then than an hour or two later, even though that is objectively not true. I often go out after dark to go for a walk or go grocery shopping.

    Rhode, that’s happy news about your son. I’m glad for him.

  62. The school doesn’t have to guess from hobbies. They have the FAFSA. If a student does not submit a FAFSA, that student will be a full pay. They can determine need for other students via the FAFSA.
    For example, Columbia requires the FAFSA by Nov 15 for early decision and Feb 15 for regular admit. They have it in plenty of time

  63. Rhode, your post made me smile! Hooray for small miracles.

    At home school is a disaster this week, but luckily next week the school all-day care (for lack of a better word) opens back up, so there will be staff to keep DD2 on track and paying attention in her class google meets.

    It is too warm and we have zero snow. I’m not happy. There is already talk that we’ll have a brown christmas.

  64. Kim,

    He lived a crazy, eccentric life.

    The phrasing makes it sound like he has been this way for a while. Which I presume he was. One usually thinks of artist and musicians when one thinks of troubled creative genius. But there are certainly many instances of that in the business world. Howard Hughes being a classic example.

  65. Starting 12/14, we’re going to do our best to isolate in preparation for our weeklong stay with in-laws. The kids will log in to school remotely. It’s mostly an either-or option at this point, despite the earlier warnings that once you chose your option, you were locked in.

  66. I like education and learning but I am jaded about he selective college admissions process. Reading the Varsity Blues book and how the SAT is gamed was eye opening. The fake photos and how resume building is manipulated was just terrible. The colleges should just do away with all the pretense. The college arms races developed to satisfy the holistic admissions approach.

  67. “DS said his grad school application asked something along the lines of “will you still attend if you do not receive an assistantship/financial aid”? He answered yes, but is considered independent for financial aid for grad school and has held only unpaid gigs, so I have no idea what that means for him.”

    I think it means he’s committing to borrowing if he needs to.

  68. “Now we just need to figure out how to move all the tree pieces out of the yard (there are a ton since DH cut down 4 other trees last week – 3 where the garage will go and 1 that was similarly cracked and leaning) and into the compost area at the back of the lot.”

    Daily workouts?

  69. “Today, DS1 went to his home school for the first time ever!!!”

    I had to re-read this twice before I figured out what you meant. I initially wondered, hasn’t be been homeschooling this entire school year?

    “And I miss my office too much.”

    I miss my office not at all. Totally ready to retire.

  70. ‘The guess is that he managed to ignite one of the nitrous oxide canisters which caused a small explosion that killed him.’…

    TMK, nitrous oxide is not flammable.

  71. “The school doesn’t have to guess from hobbies. They have the FAFSA.”

    The admissions office generally does not.

  72. I think DS2 was required to state our professions, alma maters, and degrees on the college applications. It’s not hard to guess regarding financial aid at that point.

  73. “The schools are nosey and they usually require a CSS if your kid is interested in merit aid.”

    IME, the CSS was required for need-based aid at most HSS. Neither the FAFSA nor CSS was generally required for merit aid.

    DD got merit aid without us submitting CSS or FAFSA

    “If a student does not submit a FAFSA, that student will be a full pay.”

    Not necessarily. See above.

  74. “I have read the the full pay students tend to apply early decision/early action.”

    Early decision, which is supposedly binding, makes much more sense for full-pay students. Early action, which is not binding, makes sense for most kids, full-pay or otherwise.

  75. “Generally you file your FAFSA at the same time as your application or shortly after.”

    IIRC you can file FAFSA as early as October. For kids like DD’s, that’s after many applications have already been submitted.

    Recommendation from our college counselors was to file FAFSA as early as possible. FAFSA filing date does not need to be coordinated with application submission dates, which vary from school to school.

  76. “With my DH’s health, he’s also not the one dealing with snow on the driveway. Now that both DS’s have moved out, I will be missing them on those snowy days.”

    Have you considered installing something like an electric pad to melt the snow/ice on your driveway?

  77. “Personally, I think “parents’ ability to pay” is going to be a heavily-weighted criterion for the HS Class of 2021, and maybe Class of 2022 as well.”

    I think LOR and essay will also be much more heavily weighted than in before timest for schools with competitive admissions.

    OTOH, this does not apply for schools that don’t accept LOR and/or essay. I believe most UCs don’t accept LOR.

  78. Merit aid is totally separate. Merit aid is just a form of discounting. Schools give merit aid all the time to students without regard to whether those students could be full-pays. It is a marketing decision, a way of sweetening the pot.

    Need-blind schools determine admission independently of whether the student has financial need or not, so admissions would not know if the student had submitted a FAFSA or not. Very few schools are need-blind – I think a little over 100. Most schools are need aware, which means they look at a student’s need as one factor, so they don’t blow their financial aid budget. The only way they can do that is by knowing the students need, and for that they need the FAFSA. Scarlett, I get the sense that your DH’s school is very, very elite, and may well be need blind. But that isn’t the case for most schools.

    Merit aid is completely separate and again, is a kind of coupon to entice families who are looking for a deal.

  79. “why a mat & not a heated driveway? Price?”

    Price is one factor. Sunshine’s post indicates they already have a driveway, so installing a heated one would likely require first ripping out their existing driveway, suggesting that approach would be expensive.

    But adding a mat also seems like it is something fairly easy to do, which also means it’s feasible for this winter.

    A mat can also be picked up and taken if she ever moves.

  80. “no whippits at band camp?”

    No band camp.

    “The nitrous oxide makes you high, but it’s in a pressurized can, which should of course not be set on fire.”

    My guess is that a pressurized can full of a non-flammable gas would be quite difficult to set on fire. The can would probably explode before burning.

    What I think is more likely is that there was an existing fire, which caused cans of nitrous oxide to explode due to the heat of the fire increasing the pressure.

  81. “I would happily live in a place with one season if that one season was sunny and warm. Like Hawaii.”

    We have two seasons. We are currently in rainy season.

    Local symphony recently premiered a composition celebrating the two seasons.

  82. “Like Seattle, I would be happy to live somewhere that was sunny and warm. It’s just that pesky problem about making a living.”

    We’ve had an influx of people moving here to WFH.

  83. “There are two reasons for the decline in revenue – fewer students, and for the big schools, no revenue sports.”

    IMO, it would not be a bad result for the pandemic to cause many schools to reconsider their interscholastic sports programs; in particular, the schools at which their athletic departments run at deficits.

    I don’t like that many schools have student fees to help pay for those programs. Many students at those schools have to take out loans to cover those fees, while assistant coaches get 6-figure salaries.

  84. “if you left for more than 24 hours, no matter where you went, you had to get tested 3 days before returning, and then quarantine, and take another test 4 days later. “

    So if you left for between just over 24 hours and just under 3 days, you’d need to get tested before you left.

    That’s similar to what’s been the case here for interisland travel but without the pass for under 24 hours. Not sure what it is now; the policy has changed many times.

  85. No band camp.
    That explains your famous references to band as a source of a great, wholesome peer group for your kids.

  86. Finn,

    Isn’t N2O an oxidizer? Saying N2O isn’t flammable is like saying O2 isn’t flammable, right?

  87. Ivy, please keep us posted on your efforts to more comfortably heat your house. Is this your new (to you) house?

    Doesn’t Nest have self-learning capacity? From what I’ve seen about it, mostly on This Old House, if you keep manually turning down the thermostat before you go to bed, it should learn that and after a little while should do that for you. You may need to wake up a little early a few days to turn up the thermostat before you wake up for it to learn that.

    Or maybe it allows you to directly program something like, turn up thermostat at 6am M-F, and at 7am on weekends?

    I’d be surprised if Nest didn’t have the capability of adapting to your needs. And if it doesn’t, I’d be even more surprised if there isn’t a competitor that can do that.

  88. “your famous references to band as a source of a great, wholesome peer group for your kids.”

    Orchestra. Not band.

  89. “I know you’ll miss him.”

    Absolutely. Having him home since March has been probably the biggest upside of this pandemic for DW and me.

  90. “Starting 12/14, we’re going to do our best to isolate in preparation for our weeklong stay with in-laws.”

    I’m surprised, but in a good way, that you’re doing this.

  91. Ah N2O is only a powerful oxidizer under high pressure – such as one would find inside a car engine. So I guess we’re back where we started. At 1 bar N2O isn’t the culprit.

  92. Rhett, the connection is that he was doing whippets. Idk where Finngot the idea that the article says that’s the chemical that ignited. It does not say that. It says he was doing them and that the can exploded.

  93. “Ah N2O is only a powerful oxidizer under high pressure – such as one would find inside a car engine.”

    Or perhaps in a whipped cream can that is in a fire?

  94. “Idk where Finngot the idea that the article says that’s the chemical that ignited.”

    From the article:

    “The guess is that he managed to ignite one of the nitrous oxide canisters”

  95. We have been told that we need to file FAFSA in order to receive merit aid. I’m surprised that Finn and I have had such different experiences with this.

  96. “I don’t like that many schools have student fees to help pay for those programs. Many students at those schools have to take out loans to cover those fees, while assistant coaches get 6-figure salaries.”

    +1

  97. Finn – I just noticed your question about the massager. Yes, it does work great on shoulders. I use it mostly on shoulders and lower back. Now that I am working from home, I’ve been keeping it next to my desk so I can use it during the day. I also bring it with us on ski trips (we drive so it’s easy to throw it in the car). It’s great after a day of skiing. You can turn the heat on and use it on you legs.

  98. A lot of schools want the FAFSA even if you think you are just applying for merit aid, because they want to make super sure that you don’t have some kind of financial need that could be covered by a state or federal grant instead of their limited merit budget.

  99. “We have been told that we need to file FAFSA in order to receive merit aid. ”

    That varies from school to school. There were some schools that did require FAFSA for merit aid.

    We didn’t bother with the FAFSA, because past experience told us our EFC was too high because all our kids’ grandparents died. But several schools offered DD merit aid anyway.

    I asked a rep from DD’s school specifically about their NMF scholarships and was assured the only qualifications for that were NMF and acceptance.

  100. Has anybody here tried a deep tissue massage gun? They’re becoming increasingly ubiquitous. However, most of them say percussion in their description, and I’m not a big fan of percussive massage.

  101. That was funny. Nobody is really right or wrong on there. Well, some are. Like the gal who said “don’t do conspicuous consumption, spend it on private schools, and high-quality clothes that you’ll wear forever.” As someone replied, that IS conspicuous.

    Also, nobody wants to wear any clothes forever. We watched Mrs. Doubtfire the other night, and I couldn’t believe how bad everyone’s pants looked. They all seemed to flare out just below the waist, like people had balloons on their thighs. What the hell was going on in the 90s?

  102. Thanks all. He’s excited to be on the bus tomorrow and seeing his BFF.

    “Today, DS1 went to his home school for the first time ever!!!” Yes, Finn… a terribly written sentence! He’s been in a different building in the district since October. Now, he gets to return to his *actual* school building. Since he’s never been in this building before, today was his first day in his school ever. Theoretically, he started kindergarten today… :)

    Milo – JNCO was going on in the 90s. :) Your pants weren’t wide enough unless you could fit both your legs in one pant leg. As for adults fashion, I don’t know… :)

    I’m struggling to remember that Bly Manor is set in the 1980s… I couldn’t understand why they were giving Danni such high-waisted “mom” jeans… :)

  103. Milo,

    I think some of them are wrong in that they have no sense of self awareness. It’s like they’ve never questioned their own judgement.

    I’ve been following You Me and RV due to my retirement dream of touring the national parks in an RV.

    You want to do the loop. But I think we both have a solid grasp of why that wouldn’t be everyone’s idea of a good time.

    But, per the ski vs beach advice column post a while back, there are a lot of people who never question their own choices or values.

  104. @Finn, tbh I’d never heard of heated driveway mats. Looking at them, I’m not sure they’d work on my sloped driveway and reviews are, at best, mixed. If I had it to do over, I would absolutely install a heating grid in the concrete when we were building.

  105. Rhett, I wonder how secure RVs are against bears. When you park, would you need to move all your food out of the RV into the bear locker?

  106. Finn,

    According to the National Park Service, “You may store food inside your RV if it is made entirely of solid, non-pliable material (i.e., it has no cloth pop-outs). When away from your RV, food must be out of sight and windows and roof vents must be completely closed.”

    One constant theme is upgrading to solar and also upgrading the battery pack. Many of the rigs come with a residential style fridge which is (I guess?) airtight and cold so if you can keep that running it protects against bears. Or so they say.

  107. Finn, in the phrase “nitrous oxide canister”, the phrase “nitrous oxide” is used to describe “canister”. It is not the object of the sentence you have quoted twice. The nitrous oxide did not catch on fire; and you know that.

  108. “Also, nobody wants to wear any clothes forever”

    My former boss had tasteful, tailored tweed suits that I swear were from the 1950s. She was very wealthy and really a lovely woman. She was in her 80s and was still a size 6. After seeing the same three suits over and over for years, I decided that there is something to be said for variety.

  109. “The nitrous oxide did not catch on fire; and you know that.”

    I don’t think the canister caught on fire either, and I suspect you agree with that.

    Thus my initial reaction– the canisters didn’t catch fire, so my thoughts turned to their contents and whether those contents are flammable.

  110. Well obviously something ignited!

    Wouldn’t it be the oxygen portion of the nitrous oxide propellant? Isn’t that why it’s an engine booster in The Fast and Furious cars, because it has a higher concentration of oxygen than air?

    Why are you guys bickering about this like lawyers?

  111. “Rhett, I wonder how secure RVs are against bears.”

    Haha this made me remember one time we were tent camping and some bears came into the campground. We were so scared we ran to a parked RV and asked to shelter inside with them. I’ve had bear phobia for years. We used to have drills where we would quickly drop our backpacks that contained our food in preparation for encountering a bear on the trail. The chance of a bear attack is so low, but in my mind I’ve built it up to an unhealthy degree.

    “One usually thinks of artist and musicians when one thinks of troubled creative genius. But there are certainly many instances of that in the business world. Howard Hughes being a classic example.”

    I’ve worked with some troubled successful businesspeople who displayed manic behavior and suffered addiction to various substances. My MO was to avoid them at their worst and try to work with them at their best, understanding that some of their grandiose schemes would never come to fruition.

  112. It’s cold here – 27 degrees but bright and clear. The school bus traffic has picked up and so has regular traffic although the older kids are not in school yet.

    Rhode – I wish your DS all the best with school. I love to see the little kids all bundled up with their hats and gloves.

  113. Louise – how is it colder there than here? No fair! ;)

    I have successfully avoided taking the kids camping, and now they are old enough that if DH wants to take them camping, he can do it by himself! :) I really don’t like camping – DH does but it is not my bag whatsoever. I think I was scarred for life by every time we went camping when I was a kid – maybe like 5x? It always rained the ENTIRE TIME and the mosquitos were thick like clouds. Blechhhhhhhh!

  114. “It’s cold here – 27 degrees but bright and clear.”

    Similar.

    In the Before Times, to pick up an elementary child after school, you had to find him or her in the cafeteria, then get in line to a table where you show your driver’s license and sign them out.

    Now DW and I have two large, yellow paper placards — one for each car’s glove compartment — with a two-digit number assigned to my kid, matching the number on the tag on her backpack. You either display this in your car, or, if you don’t want to slowly snake through the car line for 30 minutes, you park and walk up the sidewalk and hold the sign up. Someone calls out the numbers, and the kids leave of their own volition to meet their parents (or rides).

    I wonder if they have some special code, or number pattern, to indicate any children whose parents are in custody disputes, which was always one of the reasons behind the old formal process.

    There are no custody controls at middle school drop off and pickup. Also, there’s a large circle at the school entrance where approximately eight vehicles can simultaneously disembark, or load children. Then, ideally, all eight cars move out together and eight more take their places. At the elementary school, only the front car is supposed to be loading or unloading, even though there’s a long sidewalk where six or seven cars could do this simultaneously, and, as long as everyone got out on the right side, no kids would ever be in front of vehicles.

    Sometimes if I’m the second or third car, I’ll let my youngest out while the Tahoe High Country in front of me is in the tedious process of unloading two younger kids, mom out of the car and walking around the other side and helping them with their backpacks — and coats!!” — for the 15-foot walk into the school lobby. But you risk getting the stink eye if you do this, depending on which administrators are overseeing the process.

  115. “I think I was scarred for life by every time we went camping when I was a kid”

    My friend was telling us the story of when he was in high school and his family went camping. It rained so hard that their tent and everything in it was getting soaked, so the five of them ended up trying to sleep in the minivan. My friend, who’s about 6’2″, was sleeping in the reclined driver’s seat, and rested a foot on the brake pedal, which illuminated the brake lights until they drained the car’s battery before morning.

  116. “Why are you guys bickering about this like lawyers?”

    They are not. They are bickering about it like engineers.

  117. I hate the carpool line and avoid it at all costs.
    My kids walked or took the bus and one now drives to school. There are only a few times during middle school when I have had to pick them up. I think it was anxiety inducing since I didn’t do it every day.

  118. We normally have them take the bus when possible, but we figured that driving them during COVID Season would help ease the crowding on the buses for those who require transportation, and maybe — just maybe — make it more likely that schools remain open.

  119. Milo and Laura, you’ve got a point. In my mind, I was thinking that in calling Finn out for his tic I was at least not calling him an a-home, a response I recently told Rhett was not appropriate. But repeatedly pointing out the pedantry is starting to imitate it—is that what you’re telling me?

    I think I’ve already told you guys my son’s line re camping—he loved it the one time we did it, also enjoyed the cozy cabin when we went whitewater rafting, but the next time I suggested tent camping, it was “Mom, I’m more of a Marriott guy”. That was that. This year I tried to get him to take our sleeping hammock out to the Dark Skies area in Havelland for the Persilschein meteor showers, but nothing doing.

  120. Milo, Tampa schools were set up for parental pickups as long as we lived there. Very strict rules about where to turn in, where the kids get out in the morning, how they line up in the afternoon. Some schools gave out dashboard signs with the kids name on them. Some had winding driveways half a mile long to accommodate the pick-up lines.

    List of Tampa high schools https://www.sdhc.k12.fl.us/doc/list/secondary-education/high-schools/20-1176/
    That driveway is shown as a road on a map of the first one on the list
    https://www.google.com/maps/place/Alonso+High+School,+8302+Montague+St,+Tampa,+FL+33635,+United+States/@28.0218761,-82.6034062,16z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x88c2ea3327510c13:0x58d96fba1160fce6?hl=en-us

  121. Our experience with FAFSA was the same…some required for merit aid, but most did not. In DD#1’s case, her merit aid was awarded prior to applying to her current school. However, there was the possibility to qualify for more merit aid than she received.

    DD#2 needed to fill out FAFSA to be considered for certain merit aid, which she did not get.

    Starting this year (well maybe not with COVID issues) all Texas high school students will be forced to fill out FAFSA during their senior year as a graduation requirement. That is going to cause schools a major headache with language issues, illegal immigrant issues, income tax filing/payment issues. Some argue that it is NOT about ensuring aid – people needing handholding through the process – and more about identifying violations, which will lead to students dropping out, which also hurts schools.

  122. on the creative genius, I found out a few years back an early boss and mentor had struggled with addiction when I worked for him. He was kind, brilliant, and a respected expert in his field. AFter I left that job he had some sort of a breakdown, left the job and spiralled into a bad situation. Last I heard he was institutionalized and a shell of his former self. It breaks my heart as he was such an influence on my early career.

  123. SM – I don’t know. There’s probably a fine line, or a gray area, between a tic of pedantry and just arguing the finer points of nitrous oxide combustion for fun and curiosity. If someone isn’t interested in being corrected, it’s annoying pedantry. If the person would be curious about the distinctions, it can be fun.

    Speaking of laughing gas, my anesthesiologist friend was ranting a couple years ago about how too many dentists don’t know how to safely use it, or something like that, and he insisted on being present when the dentist was using it on his daughter for a routine filling. I don’t know if he’s crazy, or if he’s on to something. Well, let’s say that he is at least a little bit crazy, and his wife more so, but I don’t know if this particular concern is crazy.

    Statistically, at least, it doesn’t seem like it’s been an issue.

  124. Milo, you have basically described the car pool lane at my kid’s elementary school – only the first car can load/unload, but there are literally 25 cars behind that are pulled along the curb and can have kids get in/out. DD2 usually takes the bus, but on the days that I have dropped off, I always have her jump out early. I’m along 50% that don’t follow the pull all the way forward rule. The school is always tweaking the process to improve it and it is always just a mess. This year they started telling parents that if you need to assist your child with belts/doors, to park it in the lower lot and walk your child to Door 4. That seems to be working the best.

    Middle school is a free for all, and moves very quickly. The only issue is the bikers that cut through the parking lot and illegally cross the road in front of the car pool exit lane (the cross walk is further down the block). Every few years a student on a bike is hit by a car at slow speed in that lot and the district spends quite a bit to keep reconfiguring the lots and sidewalks, as well as addressing it with students.

  125. My DD didn’t get enough anesthesia during a procedure to remove an impacted wisdom tooth. I was not allowed to stay in the room. Her pediatric dentist recommended this guy because there are no pediatric oral surgeons, but this was a complicated extraction. In a coincidence, my dentist from he city also recommended him for my implant so I was already a patient. There are a lot of oral surgeons around here, but some are also MDs. She was young, but started yelling and begging me to believe that they hurt her. It was awkward and he was telling me something about twilight anesthesia to keep it safe due to her age. She had PTSD, but we moved on.My husband went to him and it was all good.

    This summer she didn’t have much to do so she volunteered at our synagogue’s food pantry. She went twice a week and she unloaded pallets, packed food bags for delivery etc. She went every week and she became friendly with the director of the food pantry. They needed some extra volunteers so I helped out in August. Due to covid, they were strict about how many volunteers could help each time. There was another new guy that day. I recognized him and I said do you remember me/DD? He replied that he could never forget DD due to aftermath of her oral surgery. The food pantry director never changed her name, so DD had no idea that she was related to the oral surgeon. We used to joke that we paid for his car or vacation because we are always in his office.

  126. Drop-off lane: my teensy annoying pet peeve, which I recognize is so minor I shouldn’t even let it bother me, is parents who don’t pull to the end of the drop zone. Our drop zone is like a loop within a loop: the bus lane is the bigger loop and goes all the way to the door of the school and back out, and the parent drop zone is on the “out” lane, farther away from the school near the exit; the school cut another driveway through the median so the parents can make the turn and stop without interfering with the buses. There is room for 3-4 cars in the drop zone, and because that whole area is near the exit (and parents making the turn have to wait for buses that are leaving), cars back up on the street just waiting to get into the school — it can literally take longer to do the drop-off than in takes to walk to school. The way it is supposed to work is that when the path clears, four cars will go, and the first car in line goes all the way to the end, and the rest fall in behind, and they all let out their kids and leave, and then the next four go. Except half the time the first car in line will pull in to the closest spot, leaving everyone else stuck deciding whether to try to squeeze by a car where a kid is exiting, or wait for however long it takes princess to get her act together and get out of the car.

    And of course the self-entitled twits who do that are also the ones who take the longest to get precious appropriately situated. Ugh. I hate it so much that when I let a kid talk me into doing dropoff, I just park on the side street and let the kid navigate the rest of the way there.

  127. Dismissal at DS’s school in the Before Times was an absolute madhouse. If the kids were in the school-sponsored aftercare, then they had a whole system like you describe including walkie-talkie calls up to the after care rooms for release.

    But if you weren’t in aftercare or were transferring to a private after-care option? Mass chaos. Release of hundreds of kids onto the sidewalk in front of the school at the bell, including the kids getting on the buses. It was complete culture shock for me the first time I picked him up – like a scene from a movie where everyone just comes piling out of the school like a clown car. Also, the school is on a side street without nearly enough room to do actual pickup, so if you had the misfortune of having to drive to pick up your kid – I can’t even imagine. The line of cars was so long & people were so rude. Luckily, we are walking distance.

  128. Lauren – Our oral surgeon remembers us for a slightly different reason. DD#1 needed 3 baby teeth out – this was 3rd Grade. She is my “I want to know the facts” child. We did our consult and he didn’t talk about details – like the numbing shot in your mouth, etc. A day or two before the procedure she asked me what would happen and would it hurt. I told her the truth.

    The day of the procedure we are in the room and she is getting prepped. The assistant and oral surgeon are there and he asks, Do you know what will happen today? When she said yes, he asked her to tell him. She said, you are going to give me a shot in my mouth and it is going to hurt a little, but it won’t make me cry and then when you pull my tooth out, I will feel it, but it won’t hurt then. And, I brought my ipod, can I listen to it while you pull my teeth?

    Since you can’t stay in there during the procedure, he walked me out and asked why I told her that. I told him she asked me and her MO is if she knows what is going to happen, even if it will hurt, she is a better patient than being surprised. After the procedure, she was given the patient of the day mug and he just gushed about how good a patient she was. The next 2 times she needed teeth removed, he remembered her and gave her all the “gory” details himself.

  129. “Starting this year (well maybe not with COVID issues) all Texas high school students will be forced to fill out FAFSA during their senior year as a graduation requirement. ”

    I actually think this is a great idea. It gets a major requirement for financial aid completed.

  130. Houston – But if your adults aren’t paying their taxes, aren’t here legally or don’t speak English and are not (in my area) Spanish or Vietnamese speakers (where translators aren’t readily available), you can’t complete the FAFSA.

  131. I hope they do an analysis of kids who DON’T graduate from high school in Texas solely because of the FAFSA requirement and whether they wind up better off. I’m doubtful. I don’t see where kids who have already volunteered for the military, etc. benefit from the requirement.

  132. That FAFSA requirement could go either way. With sufficient support, kids could get the language help they need to figure it out, their immigration status corrected, all sorts of assistance working in the system that will help them in the long run. Having attended grad school and worked in higher education in Texas, I have no hopes of funding (or in some places good will) to make that happen being available.

  133. Who would be reviewing the FAFSA under the Texas requirement? I can see wealthy people balk at the need to fill out the form if they know their kids won’t be applying for aid — they might not want people at the school (or whoever is going to review the FAFSA for the graduation requirement) to know their private financial information. Also, such parents might not want to share all of their financial info with their kids, as they don’t want the kids to know how wealthy they are.

  134. DON’T graduate from high school in Texas solely because of the FAFSA requirement

    You really think that’s a possibility?

    There are three waiver options to the requirement: 1) a student’s parent or guardian submits a signed form opting the student out, 2) the student opts themselves out if they are 18 or otherwise not a minor, or 3) a school counselor authorizes the student “to decline to complete and submit the financial aid application for good cause, as determined by the school counselor.”

  135. Rhett, when I hear requirement, I assume it means “No exceptions,” kind of like the argument last spring that a mask mandate would drop my area’s sewage-measured COVID rate from zero to below zero.

  136. Rhett, when I hear requirement, I assume it means “No exceptions,”

    Is that because you tend to be a black and white kind of thinker? My first thought was that there must be many exceptions and when I read the text of the law there were.

  137. I don’t have an issue with the FAFSA because the federal government knows almost everything about my income already. My issue is with the College Board and the CSS Profile. Very few Totebaggers have ever applied for a coop apartment in NYC, but the coop Board can (and does) ask for every single bit of financial information. It can go back years and it can include parents or grandparents if those folks helped you out financially. They pry into every corner of your life if you want to share their building. I thought that was the worst case scenario, but the CSS Profile is invasive and why should the College Board have this info? I don’t trust them and it is intrusive. They do the same to the kids when you register for a test, but some of that info is optional.

    I actually hope the SAT goes away or becomes less important because I would be happy if the College Board suffers. The amount of $ they make for the tests and then they are selling all of the information that they charge us to give since the kids can’t get around the College Board if they want to take the SAT, PSAT, SAT2 or AP Exams.

  138. S and M, we bought her a milkshake. We let her talk to her own dentist and then we told her that she had to go back for the follow up. I stayed in the room for the follow up. He spoke to her and apologized. She wasn’t happy, but she knows how skilled he is because she has spent a lot of time in his office. I am glad that she managed to get over it because he saved an adult tooth and spent a lot of time on the phone (unpaid) with her orthodontist, dentist etc. He also did the right thing and didn’t charge us for any additional work.

  139. When my youngest was in a citywide magnet program located in the least affluent school in town, they would send home the free breakfast and lunch form. We simply returned it with do not qualify in large letters. They had people call us for follow up. We refused to fill it out. I sent him with a home lunch everyday. They just gave him breakfast with most of the other kids. The assumption is that we were too proud or working under the table or illegal or whatever. There was no threshhold policy that if say, 80 percent of the school was free lunch, everybody just got it. The Texas program is well intended to help poorer kids get aid that they qualify for. But there should be an opt out for all sorts of reasons.

  140. Rhett, I think I’m very much a “shades of grey” thinker, but I am very careful about specifying exactly what is required, i.e. as the microscope engineer, I say, “You are required to wear a mask and maintain 6 feet of distance OR both a mask and a face shield if you cannot maintain 6 feet of distance by the area microscope.” Recall that Finn used to work with some of my colleagues.

    I didn’t bother looking up the Texas requirements as you did, though.

  141. The College Board has tons of optional information to be filled in and if you didn’t know better, thinking it would some how help you in your college search, they would have gathered a ton of information from the students. I agree with Lauren, in that I don’t see it as a benign non profit at all, it’s the evil testing empire.

  142. “ Rhett, when I hear requirement, I assume it means “No exceptions,”

    I am the opposite, and have been trying to make my kids understand there is ALWAYS an exception, and someone has ALWAYS already had whatever problem they’re having. There’s no reason to panic and especially not to give up. They just have to be nice and humble and seek out the person who knows the exception policy. Then express gratitude. My DS is a black and white person and if he realizes he’s missed some deadline or doesn’t have one of 15 required forms with him, will just decide he’s missed that opportunity. I’m the opposite, and think I just haven’t found the right person yet who can wave the magic wand.

  143. Rhett, I think I’m very much a “shades of grey” thinker,

    I can honestly say I’ve never gotten that impression from you. Perhaps we have two different ideas of what makes someone a “shades or grey” thinker?

    One example I would give is if someone tells you the rule is X and that strikes you as ridiculous, 9 times out 10 you’ll be right and the person just didn’t understand the rule.

  144. Lauren, I see. She was upset. I took you too literallly when you said she had ptsd. That’s not the kind of term I joke around with, but I see how you meant it. Thanks for explaining.

  145. Rhett, I would say that people from a social background are capable of/motivated to find the exception to the requirement and people from other social backgrounds are more likely to have been subject to foolish requirements often.

    I know people from math camp who didn’t graduate from high school because they didn’t have the required years of high school math, because they were already taking college math and the state required high school math.

  146. S&M, she was very messed up. We didn’t realize at first because she isn’t a kid that is ever scared of shots, doctors or dentists. Her reaction to him/nurse immediately after the procedure was disturbing.She had a lot of trauma from the procedure and we didn’t understand how bad it was until she had an honest conversation with her dentist. It took a long time for her to recover (physically too) and there are still some things that happen as a result of that appointment that I don’t want to discuss here. I didn’t use the term lightly.

  147. I know people from math camp who didn’t graduate from high school because they didn’t have the required years of high school math

    Did you look up the rule yourself or did you just take their word for it?

    I ask as I was thinking of submitting a post about this. I’ve recently had to help people of out situations they’ve gotten themselves into by listening to bad advice.

    Here is an example. Person took out a $10k 401k loan and set it up to take $X per paycheck to pay it off. Two months later they got a letter saying, “You’ve defaulted on your payments, This is now a taxable distribution.” They call the 800 number and are told that yes HR didn’t send the paperwork to payroll but there is nothing they can do. So they just paid the taxes and the 10% penalty.

    I said, that sounds like bullshit to me. And as it turns out these things happen all the time and can easily be fixed.

    https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/correcting-plan-errors

    What ever brain dead ditz in HR they talked to didn’t know what the hell she was talking about.

  148. SM, I have a behavior resulting from a totalled sandwiched car (no injury) auto accident where i was not the driver. To this day, I do not choose to ride as a passenger in the front seat of a vehicle. I always ride in the back or drive myself. If I have to ride in the front, I am barely able to do so and only for short distances. I have never done anything about it, other than to recognize it and avoid situations. I refer to it in shorthand as PTSD, since it clearly fits the definition. However, I do understand that to describe this in public conversation as PTSD (or my distractibility and organizational failings as AADD) is taken by formally diagnosed and more severe sufferers or their advocates as trivializing their afflictions or overdramatizing mine.

  149. Rhett, I took their word that they didn’t graduate because they were good friends. Generally, the principal of their rural high school was pissed that they didn’t take high school math and wouldn’t use the state’s exception process for them.

  150. “There are three waiver options to the requirement: 1) a student’s parent or guardian submits a signed form opting the student out, 2) the student opts themselves out if they are 18 or otherwise not a minor, or 3) a school counselor authorizes the student “to decline to complete and submit the financial aid application for good cause, as determined by the school counselor.””

    This sounds more like they are forcing schools to help kids/families who need it than forcing families. So without a ton of thought, I think I’m good with that.

    “When my youngest was in a citywide magnet program located in the least affluent school in town, they would send home the free breakfast and lunch form. We simply returned it with do not qualify in large letters. ”

    Our school is highly mixed income-wise. They need the form to be filled out for aid purposes, but they tell us over & over again that we can just write “N/A” on the form and sign it. So that is what I do. Everyone in the district gets free meals regardless of income (probably because district-wide a majority qualify anyway & it’s easier to administer).

  151. “She is my “I want to know the facts” child.”

    Isn’t she majoring in engineering? That’s a good trait to have in that field.

  152. “Speaking of laughing gas, my anesthesiologist friend was ranting a couple years ago about how too many dentists don’t know how to safely use it, or something like that, and he insisted on being present when the dentist was using it on his daughter for a routine filling.”

    There was a local case several years back of a kid who died after suffering brain damage while under dental anesthesia that included nitrous oxide.

  153. “Well obviously something ignited!
    Wouldn’t it be the oxygen portion of the nitrous oxide propellant?”

    My guess is it was the candles, which then ignited the vodka, which got other stuff burning, and that the whipped cream cans never ignited; the heat from the fire increased the pressure in them until they exploded.

  154. “To this day, I do not choose to ride as a passenger in the front seat of a vehicle. I always ride in the back or drive myself. If I have to ride in the front, I am barely able to do so and only for short distances.”

    I’m sorry. I wish I knew about this earlier.

  155. Rhett what you describe is exactly what I’m trying to get my kids to grasp. They will never encounter a problem that is unique, and solutions are likely on Google. At a minimum, someone, somewhere, has the workaround. (And you’ll never get the answer if you’re a jerk to the people working there)

  156. Meme, you describe the line well. It seems I mistook Lauren’s polite generality in public for something else. I’m not going to push any further.

  157. Becky, your attitude about finding the a way has been helpful to me over the years. I’ve come to recognize this as one of the principle differences I have with my mother, who accepts the first “no” as final.

  158. @Rhett/WCE – Yeah, that makes no sense to me because we had dual-enrollment back in those days statewide. I took college math for dual credit in 1993. Unless the school massively screwed up. Did they then pay for the classes out of pocket? Because their home school district should have paid the tuition as well. SIL went to a tiny rural school & went through the program, so it wasn’t just for big schools. In fact, I think it was really aimed at smaller districts that didn’t have the ability to provide higher level classes or AP classes.

  159. Becky – that is excellent advice. I do seem to have a kid that doesn’t seem to understand that “no” is MY final answer. He keeps pushing. . . =)

  160. Becky,

    Exactly. One of the travel bloggers I follow has the theory, “Hang up and call again.” If you’re calling Marriott, AA, etc. the staff often isn’t very well trained and isn’t all that familiar with the rules. Often they will say something isn’t possible or not allowed. But what they really mean is, “I don’t know how to get the system to do that.”

    But that applies to many other things. If you get a surprise medical bill for $3,500 and you call and something they say just doesn’t make sense and you can’t seem to make any progress. Just hang up and call again. The next person could very well say, “Oh, yes. I see they didn’t attach your pre-auth. You’re all set.”

  161. Unless the school massively screwed up.

    Which can and does happen. There is a segment of the population that thinks if the school says X that must be the way things are. Surely the school knows what the rules are. But there is no “school” there is just the person you spoke with who may or may not know the answer*. It’s like calling Lenovo or Apple or Comcast about a problem. Sometimes you’re on the phone for an hour not making any progress and you just say, “Thanks for your help.” Then call back and 5 min in the new guy says, “Try Setting-> blah blah. How about now?” And it works.

    * Or in the case of the principal WCE mentioned. Maybe he’s just fucking with you for his own idiotic reasons.

  162. Rhett – same is true with people at the probate court. You call 3x, you get 3 different answers. I tell the associates they have to keep calling until they get the person who actually knows what they’re talking about! :)

    Meme, I’m so sorry!

  163. Actually, the Mayo Clinic lays out the line between a traumatic situation that people work through and ptsd lasting months or years nicely.
    Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

    Most people who go through traumatic events may have temporary difficulty adjusting and coping, but with time and good self-care, they usually get better. If the symptoms get worse, last for months or even years, and interfere with your day-to-day functioning, you may have PTSD.

  164. Austin, there have been studies done that show if doctors tell patients ahead of time that something will hurt and are realistic about, patients usually tolerate it much better than when the doc downplay it.

  165. After my FIL passed away my MIL called Delta to inquire about his million or so miles. She was told that those miles can not be transferred over once an FF account is closed due to death. She hung up and she called back and eventually got an agent who mentioned a person doesn’t have to notify the airline of his passing and simply buy tickets under his account. She’s been flying first class ever since.

  166. I was specifically told to push for the answer by my academic advisor when I first came to the U.S. There were so many things I didn’t know and had to find out myself. One thing I have found helpful is to think of some options and then when I am on the phone ask if this, that or the other is possible. That gives the person on the other end some ideas or direction to go in, which would probably result in a favorable outcome for me.
    I spend more time these days discussing these sorts of things with my kids.

  167. I am the opposite, and have been trying to make my kids understand there is ALWAYS an exception

    Probably the most important life lesson my father taught us is if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

  168. If you get a surprise medical bill for $3,500 and you call and something they say just doesn’t make sense and you can’t seem to make any progress. Just hang up and call again. The next person could very well say, “Oh, yes. I see they didn’t attach your pre-auth. You’re all set.”

    Sometimes the opposite approach works. We knew everyone’s names at the allergist. If my son didn’t greet them properly, I called him back up to the desk. I’m no big schmooser, but it has always been important to me for him to be polite. Wait staff in restaurants commented on his manners positively, and I guess it made an impression on the clinic staff as well. When I got a $2000 bill for serum, the billing clerk (yes, we knew her by name too) took it back before I could ask and cut it down to something like 1200 or 1400. I don’t remember exactly, because she kept whittling away at it over our next few visits. In the end we paid just over $600. I think that’s probably the actual price for it, because over here we pay that many Euros.

  169. One thing I have found helpful is to think of some options and then when I am on the phone ask if this, that or the other is possible.

    Yup. When you have service complaint, always know what you want for compensation before you start the discussion, and ask for it. You won’t always get it, but you’ll set the anchor for the negotiation.

  170. there have been studies done that show if doctors tell patients ahead of time that something will hurt and are realistic about, patients usually tolerate it much better than when the doc downplay it.

    Other studies show that kids do better at math when they’re told it’s hard than “oh, it’s easy”.

  171. Well, the accident was about 17 years ago. I am not really better, I just am able to avoid the trigger 99 percent of the time.

    A person who is fortunate enough to find medical or spiritual or other practical means to function well in society may still be afflicted with a disability or syndrome or disease.

  172. As many of us on here have said about our kids (and maybe ourselves) many times over: “ A person who is fortunate enough to find medical or spiritual or other practical means to function well in society may still be afflicted with a disability or syndrome or disease”

  173. ““To this day, I do not choose to ride as a passenger in the front seat of a vehicle.”

    Did your DH buy a two-seater knowing this about you?

Comments are closed.