120 thoughts on “Tuesday open thread

  1. I would add that I know a few cases somewhat similar to this in real life. Late 30/early 40 something totebaggers who decide to burn it all down. The most extreme was probably the real life Stifler’s mom scenario that culminated with her ditching her family for her teenage paramour.

    I guess that classic term would be a mid life crisis?

  2. The other week Milo was commenting about his neighborhood’s recent development of new construction. The look of these homes is upsetting the overall feel of the area (according to current long time residents).

    This weekend as I was running along one of lakes here I was paying attention to the homes. Some were built in 1915, others in 1930s, and so one. Many different designs and materials. I started to wonder if in 1930, the family that lived here https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/2368-W-Lake-Of-The-Isles-Pkwy-Minneapolis-MN-55405/1990710_zpid/ (built in 1916) were appalled by the new build down the street: https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/2424-W-Lake-Of-The-Isles-Pkwy-Minneapolis-MN-55405/1990862_zpid/

  3. Speaking of expensive houses, I have an old navy friend who went to LSJU (per Finn) for his MBA around the time we both got out. He did McK for a couple years, then a few different startups, then nothing. Last word from him and a mutual friend was that he was going to buy a business. He also got married and had a baby. They were renting in the major city near me. DW looked up the building and estimated their penthouse was something like $4k a month or so.

    Now we got a Christmas card from them with a stamped return address of the same ultra-affluent town that I remembered her parents were from. It’s a $3.5 M house, according to Zillow. But with their last name, not her maiden name, so it’s not just using the free charity return labels.

    The house has not been sold since the 1980s.

    Now we’re curious. Are they all living there? (A “pod”?) Did the grandparents decamp to Palm Beach and they’re like “just buy a business here and save the rent.”?

  4. LT,

    I’m more impressed with the family that was building a big new house at the height of the depression. Although a quick look at the timeline says 1930 was, at the time, considered just a bad recession. The other shoe didn’t drop until 1931.

  5. Did the grandparents decamp to Palm Beach and they’re like “just buy a business here and save the rent.”?

    It’s quite possible that the grandparents are dead. I assume if the house was held in a trust then there would be no record of a change in ownership.

  6. Rhett, there are several homes in the area from that era. I’d love to know the history of the families during the depression. The Pillsbury, Washburn (General Mills), Cargill homes are well documented, so who were these people?

    My favorite, is the story of the Foshay Tower (first skyscraper in Minneapolis). Per Wiki: Foshay invited 25,000 guests to the dedication ceremony and provided all-expenses paid trips to many who included cabinet members, senators and congressmen. Half-nude dancers entertained. Each guest received a gold pocketwatch. The military gave 19-gun salutes. John Philip Sousa conducted music, including the “Foshay Tower–Washington Memorial March,” a march he wrote for the occasion. Foshay presented Sousa with a check for US$20,000.[2]

    The march was only played once during Foshay’s lifetime. Six weeks after the building’s opening on November 2, 1929, Foshay’s corporate empire was thrown into receivership at the onset of the Great Depression.

  7. I’m more impressed with the family that was building a big new house at the height of the depression. Although a quick look at the timeline says 1930 was, at the time, considered just a bad recession. The other shoe didn’t drop until 1931.

    If you had steady work, nice houses and new construction were available for a song. My grandparents bought a beautiful house in Palo Alto for $8K in 1931, because being an Army officer was a pretty secure job. They paid cash.

  8. Rhett – she was responding to people on Twitter a couple days ago. ChristieSmythe. All very fascinating!

  9. LT,

    Interesting, per that article, that so many MN estates have been demolished.

    I figure it must be down to those homes being designed for a style of living that just isn’t a thing anymore. The kitchen has been redone but its still in an out of the way servants space.

    What would you do to modernize it? Convert the ballroom into a kitchen/living area?

    Go from:

    to this?

  10. Milo, do you do that much research into all your acquaintances finances? Why not just call the guy up and ask how he’s doing/what’s going on?

    In other news one of my neighbors has informed me that another, who has always seemed friendly and checked into how we are doing, was a stasi informant. Old habits die hard, I guess. Quite a few of our neighbors have been in this building since the GDR, and of course they all know each other. Some of them are couples that have split up and now have separate apartments in the same building.

  11. The demolishing of Lake Minnetonka estates in particular is a common occurrence. Here is another one: https://bringmethenews.com/minnesota-lifestyle/the-historic-pillsbury-mansion-on-lake-minnetonka-is-being-demolished

    I think the formality of the past living spaces is not wanted, the lack open floor plans with floor to ceiling windows, is to blame. Many of those demolished (there have been some real beauties), had widows or widowers living in the them, unable to really keep up the maintenance. By the time the owner has died, the kids are left with millions in repairs and renovations, and would just prefer to sell it, or tear it down and build new to their liking.

    Also, Lake Minnetonka was a resort area back in the day. By the time it grew to a suburb, no one thought to have historic designations, and by that time, teardowns to build your ultra modern 1980s home was the rage, and it seems that there just hasn’t been enough push or value by the town councils to keep the oldest homes from demolishing.

  12. Rhett, that second pic looks awful, like it’s designed for corporate entertaining rather than for living in comfortably. Come to think of it, the kitchen looks like a commercial kitchen where the distances are so big it’d be a pain to make a grilled cheese sandwich and salad. It’s Minnesota, so it probably has a basement, but if that’s unfinished, I’d put a playroom /gym in one half the ballroom, with lots of open space for tumbling.

  13. I’m pretty sure they’re very much alive. And she’s only about 31 or 32.

    One thing to keep in mind is the impact of divorce. If the grandparents stay married, the kids aren’t going to get a sizeable inheritance until both spouses die. But if they got divorced at 55 with each taking $10 million then the death of either partner triggers the inheritance.

    And then if grandpa runs off and marries a 22 year old aerobics instructor…things change again.

  14. I really like Call my Agent, and Home for Christmas on Netflix. Thanks for the recommending these great shows. The only problem is that both shows have subtitles so I really have to watch vs. cleaning. The good news is that I stayed on the treadmill for more time because the shows are so good.

  15. Lauren, I started watching Home For Christmas last night (so great!) and it started off as dubbed in English. I found it annoying to watch that way, so I switched it to Norwegian with English subtitles. But, if you aren’t really watching it, but rather listening, switching it to dubbed is an option.

  16. Speaking of shows, I have been watching a show called “On Pointe” on Disney Plus, which is a six-part “year-in-the-life” type series about the School of American Ballet, which is the school that trains dancers for the New York City Ballet (and other major companies around the world). I’m watching it because ballet is my favorite art form, and I generally love “behind-the-scenes” type shows.

    Anyway, living in a totebaggy bubble as I do, it’s fascinating to see kids and parents who are totally not totebaggers. The advanced students at SAB (age 14-17) have left home and moved to New York to prepare themselves for a career in ballet, which is about as far as you can get from a stable, secure totebag-type career. A quick look at the SAB website says that tuition for boarding students is about $26,000 per year, and that’s just for the ballet part of it — academics (whether public school, private school, or distance learning) go on top of that. It’s so beautiful to watch those kids dance — they really are magnificent — , but I keep thinking to myself, “The Totebag would say that this is completely nuts!”

  17. In other news, DS has his road test for his driver’s license tomorrow. In his whole life, he has never wanted anything more than he wants that license. Just the other day he told me that getting his license is the only thing he wants for Christmas. I am crossing my fingers that he passes. He’s generally pretty good at handling disappointment, but he would have a really hard time handling failing his driving test.

  18. Am I the only one here who doesn’t care for romcoms? I google some shows mentioned here and when it says romcom I figure it’s unlikely I’ll enjoy it. Sometimes I’ll fake it. And I make exceptions for old movies.

  19. Shoe find. Hoka One One. A friend was wearing a new pair of what I generically refer to as sneakers, cloth lace up shoes with thick synthetic soles designed for walking or light athletic endeavor, but not hiking or running or cross fit or bad weather. She said they were like pillows for the feet. We both have wide feet, and this model, Bondi, comes in wide and runs a little long. I ordered a pair in the smaller of my usual sizes, they arrived when promised, and she wasnt kidding about comfort and lightness. The company makes a number of styles of actual athletic shoes, too, it has a questionnaire to steer you to the best model, and the review comments are extremely detailed and helpful . I dont know whether they offer narrow sizes.

  20. Also, here the kids know the neighborhoods where the test is done. We drove them a couple of times a day before the test so that DS was aware of the speed limits and where there were uncontrolled intersections.

  21. but I keep thinking to myself, “The Totebag would say that this is completely nuts!”

    That was one of the original totebag discussions. The minority view was, “Don’t let the kid waste his time with baseball or dance or music. They need to buckle down and focus on (calculus) something that will pay the bills” There was another faction that said, “This may be the one thing at which they are truly great. If they have that gift let them enjoy it. Let them be among America’s top 20 ballet dancers. There will be time enough for them to be America’s 554,423rd best accountant.”

  22. Kim. I love classic movie era couples comedies with wit and glamour, but I am with you on romcoms. The last time I can recall even halfway enjoying one was about 1990. You are not alone.

  23. Let them be among America’s top 20 ballet dancers. There will be time enough for them to be America’s 554,423rd best accountant.”

    There was?

  24. I watch so few shows and movies that an occasional romcom (like 4 Weddings and a Funeral, which I saw a few years after it came out) is enjoyable in an anthropological kind of way, unpacking what the genre is, how it works, predicting what will come next & what can’t happen.

  25. NoB,

    I think the discussion came up again after the Alex Wubbles incident. She was the nurse who was arrested after refusing to comply with police demands that she participate in the warrantless search of a patient. In addition to being a nurse she was a two time Olympian. There was time enough in life for both. And just because you have it in you to be a nurse and an Olympian doesn’t mean if you put that Olympian effort into your calculus homework you’d have ended up a neurosurgeon. Effort and talent isn’t fungible like that.

  26. “Am I the only one here who doesn’t care for romcoms? ”

    @Kim – I enjoy romcom type books, but movies…it has to be something special/different. e.g., I liked the movie Crazy Rich Asians because of the setting/side characters that I thought were more unique.

    @Rhett – That kitchen has the coveted Nancy Meyers two islands!! But no green glass refillable water bottles.

    @NoB – I am nervous but excited for your DS!

  27. I’m guessing the Stephanie Clifford who wrote the Elle article is not the same Stephanie Clifford who was paid off by Trump.

  28. “but I keep thinking to myself, “The Totebag would say that this is completely nuts!”

    Not for ballet, maybe. It’s a highbrow art. If one of our kids had the talent required for the SAB, we would have been completely supportive — provided that there was a fallback plan. It is such a joy to watch talented artists at work.

    Now I will have to postpone canceling Disney Plus until I watch this dance program.
    My SIL was a classically trained ballet dancer, and managed to dance professionally (and model) for a few years. She wandered about professionally for a a bit, then landed in marketing positions for several arts organizations on the west coast. She still has perfect posture (and takes classes) although her poor feet are a mess.

  29. @Meme – For those shoes. Are the regular width ones just a bit wider than the average? Wide shoes are too wide for me, but for walking shoes I like ones with just a little additional room in the toe box. Not ones that fit like socks. And I need the heels /arches to be regular width.

  30. NoB,
    What kind of family backgrounds do those ballet students have? I’m thinking that they are more rather than less likely to be Totebaggy.

  31. The younger sister of a high school friend took up ballet quite late — like high school, I think — but still managed to get to a level where she danced for a few years with a regional company in the Midwest. Then she went back to school in interior design and has been a designer for decades. She makes an okay living.

  32. Not for ballet, maybe. It’s a highbrow art.

    I think the example you used was Michael Phelps. Due to various learning disabilities he always struggled as a student. Bu he obviously excelled at swimming. But it’s not like dialing back the swimming would have made his academic performance better. With his ADHD it might very well have made it worse. And the same could be true for someone many levels below Phelps.

  33. Rhett — Oh, I’m all for supporting the ballet dream. But I’m a bit of a romantic that way. As I said the other day in the post about what we’re grateful for, I am grateful every day that there are artists and performers out there, and that we’re not all lawyers or accountants or engineers.

    Scarlett — They profile a bunch of high-school (pre-professional) kids on the show, and their backgrounds seem diverse. One girl from Florida has a dad who was a player in the NHL; their house seemed very nice, so I assume they have quite a bit of money from his hockey career. But then there is a girl from Louisiana who lived with her single mom who sewed her clothes, so apparently not much money there.

    The little kids (whom they also profile in the series) are also a mixed bunch. These kids are all from the NYC area, since they don’t board. Some (several) are clearly from educated, totebaggy backgrounds. Some are from middle-class backgrounds (e.g. Dad is a firefighter, mom is a SAHM). Some are from families who live in lousy apartments and can’t afford the ticket to go see their kid perform in The Nutcracker.

  34. But I’m a bit of a romantic that way.

    Sigh like when RMS said, “Then she went back to school in interior design and has been a designer for decades.” No mention of being the Tzar’s mistress.

    Actual Tzar:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathilde_Kschessinska

    Ersatz Tzar:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olga_Lepeshinskaya_(dancer)

    The future ex-Mrs. Putin*

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alina_Kabaeva

    * Ok ok rhythmic gymnastics but she has a gold medal!

  35. Totally unrelated, but today DD *finally* talked to a therapist and got an official diagnosis of anxiety and depression and got a prescription for some meds. This after an entire semester where she’d call me because her stomach hurt so bad it was waking her up at 3 AM and not letting her get back to sleep. My recommendations to go to a local doctor or the school counseling center or to make a phone appointment with Kaiser while she was down there were all met with deaf ears, so I am VERY pleased that she finally made the calls she needed to to start taking care of herself.

  36. LfB — That’s huge. Really huge. Good for her. I hope her health starts to get better.

  37. This is a huge part of why I find my son’s former coach so fascinating. He was a professional athlete for 11 years. By metrics I’m accustomed to, on this blog and in my own life, he doesn’t measure as a success. But he is incredibly disciplined and motivated down to details about the things he chooses to do. I’m accustomed to your 30s being when you make tenure/partner/pass the boards, etc, not retirement age. Between that and where he grew up, his perspectives and expectations are skew to mine. Maybe not exactly skew—there may be some intersections. But neither opposite nor parallel. Just different than mine and hard for me to predict. He says he lacks aptitude for corporate or academic careers. I think he isn’t interested. That’s fine by me. It’s just interesting to watch a person who has some of the traits most frequently repeated as necessary ingredients for success just not be interested in that definition of succeeding. I assume others here have similar experiences with people in their own lives.

  38. Ivy, One thing I like about this model is that is has an extra hole at the lip where you tie and extra long laces so that you can really pull it tight around the heel. I wear wides in Clarks steppers (giant big toes), so I need a little more room than a medium. i expect think that the regular width for this model has plenty of space in the toe box. The womens 7 on their chart is NOT equivalent to a European 38, but estimated at 38 3/8. I have feet of slightly different sizes, one more like 38 1/4, so perfect for me. And this model has lots of foot adjusting foam. I input my specs, so I didnt look at most of the other models. I know you can return them. Fleet feet in Chicago is a retailer, too.

  39. Laura, I’m sorry to hear she was having such a tough time, but very glad to hear she took that step. Sounds like she’s been watching her mama and learned something.

  40. This semester was tough on DD#1 and she is disappointed now that grades came in today. It’s the last of 4 full academic semesters in 16 months, course work shuffling so she had 6 classes this semester instead of 5, and dealing with 100% online for 1.5 semesters and a weird combination of online, hybrid and in person this semester. With one C+ (and her only C ever) this semester it lowered her four year gpa to 3.48. I know in the long run it is not a huge deal, but she has tried so hard to stay above 3.5 to be able to graduate with honors. Trying to help her keep perspective today.

  41. LFB – Good for her! DD#1 finally started to become more aware of her physical health issues that exacerbate her anxiety and to actively manage them. It has made a huge difference. I am sure your DD’s steps will help her as well.

  42. AustinMom, that’s tough. When you come up with words of wisdom, I could use them. DS lost valedictorian this semester. A good portion of it is his own fault, but some lies with the teacher. (She had assignments of four separate sites and didn’t grade the assignments on one site until November and he apparently didn’t know about that site until he got a whole bunch of zeros, yadda, yadda, yadda)

    No one will care in a year, but still. He has lost so much this year and although part of this is on him, it is hard.

  43. Austin and Cass, that’s a rough bump. We harp on the importance of those things so much, it’s hard to turn and explain how now getting them isn’t the end of the world. Austin, would you email me please?

  44. LfB, that’s great for her!

    Cass, that sucks. Your school doesn’t have 6 to 12 valedictorian like a the high schools here?

  45. “Your school doesn’t have 6 to 12 valedictorian like a the high schools here?”

    Around here, multiple valedictorians are a result of AP classes, and schools making everyone with at least a 4.0 a valedictorian.

    Does Cass’ kids’ school have any AP classes at all?

  46. “He has lost so much this year and although part of this is on him, it is hard.”

    I’m so sorry. IME, it’s even harder when you both know part of it is on him, because you can’t just curl up with him and rail at the total unfairness of the universe and this ridiculous teacher. (Well, you can still do that, you just need to ignore the part that’s on him).

  47. Cass – That is so disappointing!

    My “words of wisdom” were – I know how much you wanted this and how hard the past two semesters have been for you. Take a minute to grieve this and a few days to recover from the semester, but since you can’t change it, all you can do is move forward. What are you going to do next?

    In her case, she has to plan her away semester; she has a call the first week of January that might lead to a Spring internship; and she starts graduate school in the Fall. In a few weeks, I will talk to her again about how to craft this into a “lesson learned” that she can use to answer questions about “failing to reach your goal” or “something you learned about yourself”. The real point of that is less about answering the question you may never get and more about how do you put this experience into perspective.

  48. “ because you can’t just curl up with him and rail at the total unfairness of the universe”

    But you can say “I’m so sorry” and give a great big hug, because they are disappointed in themselves, something we can empathize with.

  49. Meme – Thanks! I am often just slightly bigger than a 7 in athletic shoes – but 7.5 is often a bit too big, so that actually sounds perfect. Fleet Feet isn’t far either.

    I’m sorry for the kids who are facing disappointment. It may always sting a little, but I like Austin’s words about taking a minute to grieve and then finding the way forward. I always think it is good to set aside a little time for a pity party in these cases, but you can’t get stuck in one.

    @LfB – This sounds like a promising development for DD. And it was her own choice which means it will likely be more effective!

  50. S&M, already done.

    A DS’s school valedictorian is the kid with the highest gpa. Sometime there are two valedictorians if there is a tie.

    DD1 was solo valedictorian
    DD2 was tied…

    Part of the issues, which I have no idea how to handle, is DS’s competitiveness with the sisters. They are very different people, but the girls both managed to become state champions at something, DS didn’t have the opportunity (thanks Covid).

    DD1 had higher grades and higher SAT than DD2, less extracurriculars than DD2

    DD2 had a significant EC accomplishment, lower SATs and grades than DD1 or DS

    DS’s grades and SAT higher than DD2, higher grades than DD1.

    Both girls were varsity athletes by their sophomore year and had most of their college costs covered by merit scholarships, at R1 schools.

    Both girls also have fully functional bodies.

    There is no reasonable comparison, between the three of them.

  51. I heard this in some form growing up
    “Shoot for the moon, and if you miss, you will still be among the stars”.

  52. NoB – Look it’s perfect for Disaffected College Students. I would be somewhat sympathetic to my kids but would totally buy them that poster as a consolation (joke) prize.
    I am mean that way.

  53. Thanks Austin!

    Cass, my son doesn’t have siblings to compete with, and the things that don’t work with his body are much less than what some other people deal with, but I’ve got a taste of that disappointment a kid has at the point when they want to be ambitious and embark on exciting life and their body just fails. I know it’s rough. Wish I had words of wisdom for your kid. He probably knows all about his grit and fortitude. Wishing him all the best.

  54. Louise, I would *totally* buy that poster for my kids — and they would laugh their head off at it. In fact, that might be the best possible thing I could do (outside of mommy hugs, and after the initial disappointment, of course).

    Milo: Yes. This was part of my transition to full Smother mode: the realization that you don’t always need to point out the Lesson. Sometimes they just need a hug. And sometimes they just need to believe that when the world says they screwed up, you’re angry at the world for being so wrong.

  55. I’m so sorry for the Totebagger kids who are not going to achieve their goals after all their hard work and all the time they invested in it. I think the advice to acknowledge the grief is good. In some cases a door may be permanently shut, in others it may force one to find an alternative path.

    For DS a door shut forever when he got his second concussion sophomore year in the sport that he loved. It really broke my heart when he went through that. He has gotten past it, but I know it still hurts.

  56. Laura, anger at himself, for whatever reason, has probably always been my kid’s biggest anger/negative emotion. It took me a while to get over trying to comfort him by saying he had nothing to be angry about and to learn to recall times I’d been frustrated at what I didn’t or couldn’t do, or did that shouldn’t have been done, or otherwise been mad at myself and just feel sorry that he was going through that same emotion.

  57. ‘Shoot for the moon, and if you miss, you will still be among the stars’

    I feel obligated to point out that the moon is much closer than any star.

    OTOH, if you shoot and miss, you will be among the stars, albeit just as much among the stars as if you never shot in the first place.

    BTW, did anyone look at the Saturn/Jupiter conjunction last night? When DW and I went out walking, there were a lot of people out looking at that.

  58. Finn, that doesn’t make sense. Are you trying too hard? If you shoot for the moon and hit it, then it stops your shot. If you miss, then your shot keeps going, past the moon, to the stars.

  59. Cass, my sympathies to your DS.

    WRT the delta between sibs, I think you’re not seeing much difference between your DDs because they’re hitting compliance (perhaps only WCE and Austin’s DD1 will understand that reference. Oops, LfB’s DH also), aka, they’re up against ceilings which makes it difficult to differentiate between the two.

    I think it’s more typical for kids to have differences that to be so alike in their achievements.

    DD has been in a similar position to your DS, perhaps exacerbated by following in DS’ footsteps for many things (e.g., both played violin/viola, debated in the same category, took largely the same classes and thus had many of the same teachers in HS, had similar PT jobs in HS). She seems to have dealt with it largely by not comparing herself to him.

  60. Is valedictorian determined solely by GPA ? I’m a little confused. Don’t you have till the end of high school to make up a deficit and maybe you could still come out ahead if your rival doesn’t continue to do as well ?

  61. “If you shoot for the moon and hit it, then it stops your shot. If you miss, then your shot keeps going, past the moon, to the stars.”

    You’d really have to overshoot to leave our solar system for another. If you actually hit the moon with such a shot, it would likely be with such force as to obliterate you.

  62. LfB – thanks for the smothering description. My youngest often tells me I never take his side and he’s probably right. I’m a little more tough love than a soft place to fall. I’m his case, it’s because I worry he’ll continue to fall if he doesn’t learn that he’s getting bruised, but perhaps I need to hear a little voice inside my head every so often.

    Cass, all three of your kids sound pretty amazing.

  63. “ BTW, did anyone look at the Saturn/Jupiter conjunction last night? ”

    It was cloudy here last night, but we went out tonight, and we were able to see it. Very cool!! And brighter enough to see it in the city which is not always the case!

  64. Anybody considering buying an e-bike?

    “Another extender grants a tax credit to buyers of “two-wheeled plug-in electric vehicles” — that is, electric motorcycles.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/22/congress-tax-breaks-stimulus/

    I’m not sure an e-bike qualifies for the tax credit, but in a way it would make sense. The pandemic has really juiced demand for bikes, likely due in large part to a lot of people who had relied an public transit looking for more socially distanced transportation modes. E-bikes would also fill the bill, and be practical for a lot of people for whom a regular bike may not be so practical.

  65. The aftermath of Monday’s baking spree—egg yolks! Probably need to use them up by today, because freezing them wouldn’t fool anyone. No way would I ever make myself use them then!

  66. “ Milo, do you do that much research into all your acquaintances finances?”

    No. But this one is particularly intriguing to me, because of the route that he’s taken since our paths diverged, and then marrying rich, and now he’s not working by all accounts.

    “Why not just call the guy up and ask how he’s doing/what’s going on?”

    I’ve done that, except I use Messenger. He’s always been particularly vague about money, while at the same time being very…I don’t know, forthcoming about his own success and brilliance.

    At this point, I should point out that in the past, he’s done some extremely nice things for me, like drive my elderly grandparents, whom he’d never met, six hours to my wedding, a week after helping me move my entire apartment (for a free dinner at Panera).

  67. On the different curve balls of life. I have mentioned my friend who was an average student from a conservative family in the home country. After trying her hand at various things including a course in jewelry design and trying to set up her own business, she is now a semester into her PhD program. This is so out of the norm, as a older female student.
    Not political – but I want to say that what Kamala Harris’s mother undertook was very remarkable.
    So in spite of all our quibbles on what to shoot for and where one lands, I would say that the Totebag kids will be fine in the long run.

  68. Totebag kids will probably be fine because they have Totebag parents with Totebag connections. One of the things that I noticed by moving from Pell grant status to 1% is that connections are worth a lot more than grades or HSS.

    DD’s high school has one valedictorian and it is announced in April. Many parents grumble because this is late, but the HS refuses to change their policy. The other issue is that her high school doesn’t use a weighted average. They have a simple formula for GPA. A is 4.0 and A + is 4.3. Many of the high schools around here calculate GPA based on a weighted average and they used a scale that goes to 5 or 6.

    One result of the unweighted average is that it is possible for a student to take no AP or honors classes and have a perfect GPA. Should this person be the valedictorian? If a strict formula is used, yes. In most years, there is usually a student that takes all APs and still has a perfect GPA so the valedictorian had a rigorous schedule.

  69. Lemon Tree, if I am ever in your city, will you take me on a run along your route? It looks delightful.

    Cass, I will echo others, your DS is going to be a-ok. When you described him possibly taking a job this summer at an auto parts place (did I get that right?) and merely trading his paycheck for parts for a project truck, I thought, “mom doesn’t sound thrilled, but he has already figured out how to get what he wants.” He would be in the company of experts, he would learn from them, and they would support a kid refurbishing a truck. Rinse and repeat for any career.

  70. I recently received a notice to add my oldest kid’s valedictorian to my LinkedIn network, thereby having the chance to learn how she’s done over the last ten or so years. She’s been an overachiever since high school and has continued the pace since graduating. She’s earned both a bachelors and a masters from the top Ivy League school, and is now working on a double masters from another Ivy. She and my kid were the only NMFs in their class, and she used to pepper my kid with questions about his grades and plans for college. My kid has always been a smart slacker. He barely made it into the top 25% of graduating seniors and has only one college degree, albeit from a top college. But I think both kids are reasonably happy now. Each forged their own path.

  71. I’m sorry for the Totebag kids’ disappointments. It is so hard at that age, everything is magnified!

    Lauren, that’s what my HS did BITD, but all As were the same, no 4.3 for A+, so 4.0 was the best you could get. They called it something else too, it was like the “Bob Smith Award” instead of valedictorian, and no salutatorians. My year there were 3 of us. Of course they changed it after I graduated to weight the honors classes more!

  72. I have noticed that the valedictorian at kids school has been a girl for the past few years while boys have been in second place. Also, the NMF and NMSF kids are a different set of kids. Then there is another set of kids that have got into selective colleges but are not NMF or NMSF. It’s all these circles that don’t quite intersect.

  73. The schools here have so many valedictorians because the differences in GPA are at the third or fourth decimal place, so they consider it to be a tie.

  74. The valedictorian of my class is now VP of Business Development at PlugShare. He seems to have a BS in econ from UCLA. I heard he had brain cancer, but I haven’t heard any updates lately.

    He was drunk off his ass when he gave the graduation speech. It didn’t even make any sense.

  75. RMS – that must have been..ahem so interesting! I saw the kids school valedictorian speech this year since it was a video recording sent to all students and parents.
    It was long, rambling and didn’t hit the mark at all. So, the squeaky clean but exact same impact as RMS’s Val speech.

  76. Swim, I’ll be happy to. We are very proud of our lakes. Before we even thought of moving up here, we were here visiting a friend. He took us on a drive around the lakes and we joked that he worked for the Chamber of Commerce. Years later we moved, so I guess his tour worked.

    The high school I went to didn’t have a valedictorian, or class rankings of any kind. It was competitive enough and plenty went to Ivy Leagues and the like. We all knew who the super duper smart kids were, and their competitiveness came across, but on friendly terms. Not having class rank prevented any resentment or disappointment on that aspect.

  77. Completely off-topic, we sold our leased vehicle (DH’s car) back to the dealer yesterday, sort of on a whim. With the kids living here again while finishing classes, we have four cars and we rarely drive. My car and DH’s are in the garage, and we have a 2-car driveway, which means if we want to drive our own cars we have to move others to get them out. Anyway, I received a generic email from the dealer saying “we want to buy your car” (which we also get constantly for the corollas), so I responded to them, DH agreed to bring it in, and we are out of the lease we still had 17 months on and will get a check for a little over $1K when the paperwork is all complete. I had no idea it could be so easy to get out of a lease. Once people move back out or all of us are driving to our respective places more, we will get another vehicle, but for a while I’ll get to reduce our insurance costs and drop this payment, so I’m happy. Every Jan 1 I try to reduce our overhead, so this was a nice addition to the $140/month or so I had already cut.

  78. @Becky – What else did you cut? One of the things I want to do over this holiday break is to go through our subscriptions. Might be a good time to quit or threaten to quit a few to at least get a better deal for awhile.

  79. That is good news Becky. I had no idea that they’d let a 17 month early turn in happen without forcing you to purchase or lease a new vehicle. I do know that new car production is backed up and dealers want cars. We have a lease up in February and it looks like we’ll just buy it out because there are currently no Pacifica’s out there with the options that we currently have (or better) at a price similar to what we are paying. DH even checked dealers out of state. Meanwhile, all the dealers around us our chomping at the bit to turn our lease in, and keep upping their discounts on a new lease (but I don’t want a lesser option vehicle, or a pickup truck).

  80. Agree, it’s a weird time to buy a car. I was all ready to buy the hybrid volvo, but the dealership didn’t respond very quickly and then the inventory and delivery of new vehicles has been scarce. In the meantime, I saw the new MDX is coming in early 2021 so I’ve decided to wait and drive it too. And then, I think I can wait just a bit longer and can see the redesigned f-pace too…my DH is ready to strangle me because he just kind of wants to check it off the list.

  81. Lemon curd and hollandaise both sound yummy to me, but I doubt my son would like them any better than the cheesecake and custards that came to my mind for using up the egg yolks. It’s a texture thing. I need a non-squishy, -wobbly, -runny thing to make with 4 egg yolks (I put one in my French toast). Any ideas?

  82. Our GPA’s weren’t weighted either. Our valedictorian worked as a nurse at the local hospital for years and now is a SAHM involved in all the usual MLM schemes – Norwex, Young Living Oils, etc. I looked at the “Top 10” in my yearbook out of curiosity, and I was pretty surprised. Out of the ten, there are two pastors, two farmers and two nurses. None of the people that came to mind as the smartest kids were in that group, and most of them stayed local or localish. The former president of SWE was not in the Top 10, for example. The President of a marketing company who was my lab partner for chemistry and physics and was both smart, creative and charming was not in there. FWIW, I was number 11 – and I remember being pissed about that at the time. But I did not manage my GPA at all. I took art classes knowing that I would not get A’s, for example.

    (FWIW, my graduating class was around 170 kids)

  83. Lemon Tree – DH had debated between a truck and the car he eventually leased, and has lamented not having a truck ever since. So I think when he does get the next vehicle, it will likely be a truck.

    Ivy, Verizon offered $50/mo off my bill for switching to a debit card from a credit card for the autopayment and I took advantage of their free Disney+ and cancelled that subscription. I got ATT to lower my monthly charge for internet (although I’m still paying more than new customers for 1GB) and I took advantage of the free HBO Max promotion they have and cancelled the separate subscription I was paying for. I switched to Apple One (I think that’s what it’s called) instead of my various other subscription payments to Apple, and cancelled my Gaia yoga subscription and will use Apple’s Fitness+ app. I cancelled one or two other subscriptions we rarely use or that were similar/overlapping. I have also asked my insurance agent to requote my auto insurance so I’m hoping to pick up some more there. It’s not huge monthly, but annualized it’s around $1600 so far which makes it feel worth the hour I spent. I do this at the start of every year to try to avoid the spending creep.

  84. Becky, you don’t have a truck? is that allowed in Texas? :) We use the minivan as our truck – it hauls everything we need it to haul, and thus I’m unwilling to let it go. Only have sedans or small suvs would be lifestyle change for us.

    An annual review of subscriptions is a good habit. On the local morning radio show one of the guys discovered that for years he had been paying a monthly charge for the Boston Globe, all because he once signed up for a free 30 day subscription to read some articles for their show. A caller than mentioned that for years he had a monthly charge from HP for some ink refill program that he has no memory of signing up for.

  85. “What else did you cut? One of the things I want to do over this holiday break is to go through our subscriptions. Might be a good time to quit or threaten to quit a few to at least get a better deal for awhile.”

    Ivy, this would make a great topic. You should post it.

  86. We had a truck for around 15 years, then it became the 5th vehicle for the aforementioned 2-car driveway, and it was driving me crazy how much car rearranging we had to do, so I sold it. We’ve been truckless for around 3 years now and hear about it all the time, so apparently we will be rectifying that situation as soon as possible.

  87. Becky, Same with my DH and a car with a manual transmission. He hasn’t had a manual in more than 20 years, but he talks about how much he misses it all. the. time.

  88. DH was valedictorian of a class of 28. We have his puny trophy sitting on a shelf in our office/library. The plaque doesn’t even have his name on it, only “Valedictorian”. It makes me laugh. I finished 6 out of 500+ students. I tell DH that is equivalent to his valedictorian. He disagrees.

  89. I let one forgotten yearly renewal charge slip through in Dec. 15 dollars. I was beating myself up over it until I got real. I am going to cancel Apple TV + when it rolls over from free unless they offer some actual content. But with no travel or expensive entertainment on the horizon, all kids now homeowners, and our our small monthly nut for necessities, guilt/worry is an ingrained but bad habit that i need to control and let the small indulgences be a source of pleasure.

  90. Avgolemono Sauce sounds delicious—is going on the list for next time. Carbonara is a great idea I never would thought of. But making our own ice cream for our practically traditionless Christmas Eves is a home run and then some. With any luck, we will start doing it every year, to eat with the cookies that used up all the egg whites. Thanks for all the ideas!

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