Foods and Health

by Louise

I have become interested in the many people I meet who are careful about what they eat.  Lots of people have reduced or cut out gluten from their diets as well as diary.  Teens now go vegan.

What has been your experience with cutting out certain foods? Do you feel better in your gut, have you lost weight and feel healthier overall?

14 Best and Worst Foods for Digestion

What Does Your State Shop For?

by Honolulu Mother

Estately (a real estate blog I guess?) put together a map showing what item each state shops for more frequently than any other state:

Thrillist also wrote it up here:

THIS MAP SHOWS THE MOST COMMON ONLINE SHOPPING SEARCHES IN ALL 50 STATES

You can scroll down to see the complete list from each state. Hawaii’s looks mostly right, though I’m not sure what’s up with that Flowbee. Some other states have explaining to do — Colorado and Kansas, is it the long winters? Rhode Island, I feel your pain.

How about your state — does the list surprise you?

Taking a career pause

by Up North

While scrolling through a list of new books available at my local library, I came across “Work Pause Thrive: How to Pause for Parenthood Without Killing Your Career” by Lisen Stromberg. I was intrigued to find out what the author meant by a work pause and if it may be applicable to my own career path.

The author defines a pause as “temporarily reframing of one’s priorities to place the personal before the professional.” Stromberg notes there are different kinds of pauses that she labels Cruisers: staying in the paid work force with a downshift to part time work or a flexible work arrangement, Boomerangs: leave the workplace completely and then recommit to their careers by returning to their previous industry, and Pivoters: leave the workplace completely and pivot to a new profession. She notes a pause can happen with young children, older children, or when one is taking care of a parent.

The book gives a name to the career/life path I’ve chosen to take and discusses many others who are also creating their own path. Stromberg states that we have a bias against caregiving in this country and that often a career pause isn’t the “choice” it’s often made out to be.

I have downshifted my career to be my children’s primary caregiver. I started my career at a large firm, worked PT at a smaller firm for a couple of years, was primarily a SAHM for 1.5 years, and now work at a large firm with a flexible work arrangement. There are trade-offs to the path I’ve taken. On the plus side, I’ve had more time with my children, more time for my own interests, and have been able to “stay in the game” professionally. Some of the downsides are having less challenging assignments than I would likely be given if I didn’t have a FWA, having others assume I am not as committed to my career, and watching others pass me by career-wise. I enjoy working and would like to focus more on my career when my kids are a bit older. I hope that reading this book will help me to do so.

Here’s a link to a review of the book:

Work Pause Thrive: How to Pause for Parenthood Without Killing Your Career

If you’ve taken a pause in your career, in what way did you pause? How has it worked out for you?

For those of you who haven’t taken a career pause, what do you think of those who pause? Should work places do more to accommodate caregiving pauses?

Trade-offs between privacy and security

by S&M

The first half of page 68 could be fodder for discussion of the trade-offs between privacy and security.

The Wealth Report 2017

Privacy is rapidly becoming an unattainable luxury

Most people value privacy and, understandably, prefer to keep information about their investments and assets to themselves.

The unrealistic nature of this aspiration was highlighted early last year when nearly 12 million documents, including private financial information relating to more than 200,000 individuals and entities – the so-called Panama papers – were leaked to the media. It was proof, if proof were needed, that no data can be truly secure.

However, concerted international co-operation aimed at helping governments understand and track the global movement of wealth and assets may soon render such unofficial leaks redundant. The
US started the process in 2010 with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which led to a unilateral demand for foreign financial institutions to report details of accounts and investments held by US citizens.

Aside from prompting several thousand Americans to renounce their citizenship including, reportedly, the UK’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, and forcing the Swiss to evolve their banking secrecy rules, FATCA has prompted a global copycat move from the OECD. Its
decision to agree information sharing among 100 countries through the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) will trigger a data deluge later this year, as jurisdictions around the world begin the automatic exchange of information on their citizens’ financial information. The CRS promises a more efficient means of ensuring that appropriate tax is paid on wealth, wherever in the world it is created. Most of those affected by the new regulations will have no issues. But for some, unlimited data sharing will raise personal risk, especially if corruption enters the process.

As investment portfolios become more global and wealth moves more rapidly we should not be surprised that the direction of travel is towards “big data” capture. As Ian Bremmer notes on
page 9, governments will have to look for new metrics to accurately measure emerging wealth and economic trends which have significant political implications.

This points to an issue that runs throughout this year’s edition of The Wealth Report, which is that developed markets are seeing more politically inspired resistance to large inflows of capital from
emerging markets: witness responses in Vancouver, Hong Kong and more, as detailed on pages 18 and 19.

At the same time, emerging markets are concerned – increasingly so in the case of China – about outbound capital flows. This government desire to control wealth movements will inevitably necessitate a better understanding of where citizens hold their wealth.

Irrespective of current government initiatives, technological developments will make it increasingly difficult to hold assets and investments discreetly, even where the objective is to maintain privacy rather than to evade taxation. If the predictions on page 20 from one of our contributors, David Friedman, prove correct, technology is moving towards a future where the entire ownership of all global assets will be free to search in real time.

All this has profound implications for those jurisdictions that have built their business models around their ability to provide investment secrecy. Access to the likes of private aviation may allow the wealthy to continue enjoying a measure of personal privacy, but data privacy is set to become an increasingly rare commodity.

Taking Care of Elderly Relatives

by AustinMom

This topic was triggered by a question asked by a regular recently about what support do you really need to provide the “more healthy” elderly who have their mental capacity and sufficient financial resources. It reminded me that I had that similar question several years ago.

As regulars know, my dad passed away in May 2015 and my mom followed him in April 2016. My mom was 9 years older than my dad, but she was always the healthier one, per their doctors (shared same primary care, cardiologist, and ophthalmologist). My parents were open about discussing both their finances and health care information in the last 5 years before they passed. However, knowing information and stepping in to help or completely manage these things is a big step.

Since my mom passed, I have three acquaintances who have started down this similar path with one or both elderly parents. In each case, the point at which the family member(s) needed to consider downsizing was foreseeable, but then the switch to needing significant participation in caregiving was abrupt and not anticipated.

The “problem” I observed, in my own situation and in theirs, is that when that change takes place you aren’t as prepared as you’d like to be and you are too enmeshed that you don’t have the time to start doing the research. While there is tons of information out there, it all seems to be scattered like parts of a jigsaw puzzle dumped on the floor. No one seems to have that “complete checklist of elder care considerations”, either from the what to do in advance, what to do when you find yourself unexpectedly care-giving, or how to handle the estate upon passing.

From some of the comments on other posts, a number of Totebaggers have recently been, are in the midst of, or can see this coming in their families. If you were asked to contribute to that “complete checklist”, what would you put on it?

Open thread

by Grace aka costofcollege

Today we have an open thread to discuss any topic at any time of the day.

Since tomorrow is tax filing deadline, maybe this is on your mind.  What do your tax habits say about you?

Your Accountant Knows You Better Than You Know Yourself
As tax deadlines near, one preparer explains how reading her clients helps their bottom lines

What personal hangups affect the way people manage their taxes?

Some people walk in the door saying, “I hate paperwork. I hate taxes.” These people are avoiders. They don’t seem to care that much about money. Even if avoiding tax planning costs them money, they’d rather not deal with it. They don’t see themselves as able to get ahead financially. They don’t feel like they have any control, when in fact they do.

Others are procrastinators who have fallen years behind on filing returns, and the onset of the tax season triggers guilt or anxiety. These clients need more structure from us. Before they leave the office, I suggest they set another appointment in advance. Or I say, “Here’s one action to take: When you go back to the office I want you to adjust your W-4 and have an additional $50 taken out of your paycheck.”

Gifted vs. high-achieving

by S&M

“Giftedness” does not mean “likely to come out ahead in any competition”. Gifted children often are non-neurotypical in other ways as well, in ways that make learning in standard classrooms difficult. How well have your kids’ school done about recognizing this and addressing it through pedagogy (setting up classes according to it)?

The Truth About ‘Gifted’ Versus High-Achieving Students

‘Locker room talk’

by L

“Locker room talk” and “boys will be boys” – in the wake of our current president’s words (and alleged sexual assaults), what solutions would Totebaggers suggest? Parents of boys, how would you feel if your son was one of the people scoring women?

2012 Harvard Men’s Soccer Team Produced Sexually Explicit ‘Scouting Report’ on Female Recruits

Stronger Together

WATCH: Harvard women’s soccer’s response to ‘scouting reports’ featured in Lifetime video

Surprised by Shaker style

by S&M

Whaaaaaat?

Every once in a while, you learn something that turns your understanding of the world on its head. This article was like that for me. In my geography, PhD, the two-way, relationship between society and space was a major topic. One of my dissertation advisors ran a speaker series. He often took visiting speakers out to the Shaker site near campus, which he used to illustrate and further think through ideas about society and space. I went along a couple of times. Thinking of those theories always brings to mind the soothing spaces in those buildings. They are so serene that I picture people going about their tasks happily in a very orderly fashion, without loud noises or motions. The meeting hall has a large open space which was used for the movements the sect is named for. It is similarly pale and calming. I have always thought of those ecstatic dances as contrasting starkly with the gentle colors and perfect order.

Now comes this. The forms and measurements of those spaces doesn’t change because of it, but human perception of them would riotous color suggests a very different mood of the people who created it and lived there. I highly doubt that rethinking that space through brightly colored glasses will overturn my entire PhD, but it is still somehow unsettling to see such a change in something (a place) where many of those ideas came to life.

Or we could talk cupboards, if you want.

ARTS/ARTIFACTS;Even Before the Movies, the Shakers Had Technicolor

A Quick Fix for the Blues

by Honolulu Mother

This article in The Week offers a few quick ways to boost your happiness.  At the end of the article (which gives more detail on why and how this works), it sums them up thus:

Sum up

Here’s what brain research says will make you happy:

1. Ask “what am I grateful for?” No answers? Doesn’t matter. Just searching helps.

2. Label those negative emotions. Give it a name and your brain isn’t so bothered by it.

3. Decide. Go for “good enough” instead of “best decision ever made on Earth.”

4. Hugs, hugs, hugs. Don’t text — touch.

Are there mood-boosters we could add to this list? For me, I would add (1) Go for a walk and (2) Put on cheerful music. What suggestions do others have?

How would you cut your household spending?

by Grace aka costofcollege

Let’s look at the unpleasant version of a question that was posed here recently.  Instead of asking what you would do with an extra $2500 each month, today’s question is about tightening your belt.

How would you deal with being forced to trim $2500 (or another amount) from your monthly family budget?  The reason could be a job loss, new daycare or college expenses, or any number of other scenarios.

Pick a dollar amount or percentage, and tell us what you would cut from your budget.  Also, how could you boost your household income?  A side gig, SAHP returns to the work force, sell valuables, or other ways to “find money“?

To inspire you, take a look at this comparison of two very different family budgets.  How could an “average family” trim their budget?

Movie recommendations

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

I just finally got around to seeing “Date Night” with Steve Carell and Tina Fey. It was really cute, and it moved right along. There wasn’t too much embarrassment humor ( I HATE embarrassment humor) and really, you could watch it with kids over the age of 10 without too much cringing.

I do love a good romcom, and by “good”, I mean not sappy or horrifying or grotesquely embarrassing.

I guess some of my other romcom go-tos include “L.A. Story”, “It Happened One Night”, and “Philadelphia Story”. I think I have “Philadelphia Story” memorized.

What are your movie recommendations? What genres are your go-tos? What
have you seen lately that you recommend?

Should You Worry About the Person the Dog Dislikes?

by Honolulu Mother

I was intrigued by this Quora discussion on whether dogs’ and cats’ reactions to people are meaningful indicators. In other words, should you be wary of someone your pet avoids or dislikes, and be inclined to trust the person the pet takes an immediate shine to?

Do certain people give off an aura to animals? My cat hisses severely at this person, and my dog hides.

Gender imbalance in the workplace

by L

Why Is Silicon Valley So Awful to Women?

Why Men Don’t Want the Jobs Done Mostly by Women

Totebaggers, how would you suggest decreasing sexism and increasing the number of women in tech? Law? Banking? Other fields? On the other side of the coin, how would you increase the number of men in “pink collar” jobs? Or would you rather leave well enough alone? If gender gaps in certain jobs/industries don’t bother you, why not?

Retail trends

by Grace aka costofcollege

When I think of my shopping habits 30, 20, or even five years ago I am astounded at how the retail landscape has changed.  And more changes are in store.  (Pun intended.)

Here are a few random stories that touch on different retail trends.

Sears Transformed America. It Deserves to Die With Dignity.

Amazon and Walmart are in an all-out price war that is terrifying America’s biggest brands

Costco’s biggest mistake in 2016

Now’s the Time for Big-Box Stores to Embrace the 19th Century

For retailers and their landlords, the future lies in giving customers a place to socialize and learn. Spending time with friends, meeting new people, and acquiring hands-on skills aren’t as enjoyable online. The challenge today is to recreate the old excitement for a new era, selling not exotic merchandise and unfamiliar culture but the pleasures of human contact and physical presence.

Death of the Shoe Salesman, Finally

Payless is reportedly filing for bankruptcy.  And what’s the future for shopping malls?

Mall Closures Ripple Through Small Town America

Mall Owners Rush to Get Out of the Mall Business
Surge in store closures prompts some shopping-center owners to walk away from troubled locations

What are some important retail changes you have seen? Malls, clothing, shoes, homes, cars, appliances, groceries, and travel have all been affected.  What are the upsides and downsides?  What changes do you expect within the next five years and beyond?

Your retirement location and home

by S&M

The Wealth Report

Some people here are planning their retirement, while for others it is dreamily far off. What are your criteria for your retirement home? Can you picture yourself living outside the US? This chart shows how much floorspace can be purchased for $1 million in various cities around the world. (1 sq m=10.76 sq ft) Pages 20, 21, 25, & 26 at the link give thumbnail descriptions of neighborhoods ready to grow in transportation & infrastructure, tech & creative industries, and for bargain hunters, as well as neighborhoods feeling the aftermath of gentrification and “hot spots” around the world. Do any of them look like “home” to you?

 

Devious decluttering

by S&M

Clutter Confessions: The One Thing of Theirs I Wish I Could Toss

Haha! This could be fun. Expanding it from romantic partners to include other family members, I’d say I’m really not a fan of the generic black/white reversible jersey from the Y that my son has tacked up on his wall. Between me not having to look at it and teens needing to experiment with their own identity, I don’t think it’s worth the battle that would ensue if I insisted he take it down.

Illness, Setbacks – looking inwards, coping with it all

by Louise

A mouthful of a title! How did Totebaggers cope with illness in themselves or loved ones, how do Totebaggers cope with setbacks? One day everything is fine, the next day dark clouds appear on the horizon.

My household just dealt with a bout of illness and all our issues are not yet resolved.
I thought of this book, I had been intending to read it but put it off, will pick it up again.

Review: In ‘When Breath Becomes Air,’ Dr. Paul Kalanithi Confronts an Early Death

School trips

by Denver Dad

The last few years, my kids have gone on several school trips out of state and overseas. DS went to Boston two years ago, they both went to D.C. last year, and DD went to Costa Rica this year. One of DS’ teachers is planning a trip for next year to France, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany that we will probably let him go on. Our feeling is that these trips are great opportunities for the kids, and we can afford them, so we want to take advantage of them. Realistically, we’re never going to get to all of these places as a family.

I also think a big part of the trips is the kids getting to be on their own (with other kids and some chaperones, of course, but not their parents) and establish some independence. I tell them flat out that I don’t want to hear from them while they are gone. On the Costa Rica trip, the teacher sent photos and updates several times a day, and while it was nice to see what they were doing, but I would have preferred to have had no contact until the end. I definitely seem to be in the minority on this, most of the parents were very concerned about the international calling/texting and wifi access so they could have daily contact with their kids.

What trips have your kids taking and/or are planning on going? Have there been any that they didn’t enjoy, or you felt weren’t worth the money? And how much do you try to stay in touch with the kids while they are gone?

The X Plan

by Honolulu Mother

This blog post by Bert Fulks recommends a variant on the you-can-always-get-a-ride-home policy that I’ve seen recommended before (including on the Totebag) for the teenage years. He describes it thus:

Let’s say that my youngest, Danny, gets dropped off at a party. If anything about the situation makes him uncomfortable, all he has to do is text the letter “X” to any of us (his mother, me, his older brother or sister). The one who receives the text has a very basic script to follow. Within a few minutes, they call Danny’s phone. When he answers, the conversation goes like this:

“Hello?”

“Danny, something’s come up and I have to come get you right now.”

“What happened?”

“I’ll tell you when I get there. Be ready to leave in five minutes. I’m on my way.”

At that point, Danny tells his friends that something’s happened at home, someone is coming to get him, and he has to leave.

It seems like a good idea. What says the Totebag’s collective wisdom?

Holidays from hell

by Grace aka costofcollege

What was your holiday from hell?  Maybe you’ve not suffered from situations as horrible as those in the article linked below, but have you had any time time when your carefully planned trip did not turn out as smoothly as anticipated?  Illness, injury, missed flights, dismal accommodations, horrible weather, unruly or incompatible traveling companions, disappointing destinations, or something else?

Holidays from Hell: From frisky elephants to a loo filled with frogs, tourists reveal the hilarious moments their trips went VERY wrong

One of my recent travel disasters caused me to miss my kid’s college graduation ceremony.  The series of unfortunate events began with a widespread thunderstorm pattern that cancelled our flight and ended with me pulling up to campus the next day just after the last graduate had been handed their diploma.  In between were many snags, including a daylong wait at the originating airport, outrageously priced replacement tickets, misplaced luggage, unexpected highway construction on the way to campus, and a clueless cab driver who asked me for the best alternate route.

My sister once spent the night with her toddler at O’Hare International on Christmas Eve. What travel mishaps or disappointments have you had?  Can you laugh at them now in hindsight?

Nosy, or not?

from S&M

This is another article that could go two ways.

1. People could tell about inappropriate questions lobbed at their children or themselves, and about defending/ teaching their kids how to respond.

2. We could talk about things our kids try to hide from us that we really do need to know, whether academic or otherwise. That could also include other relationships where ideas of what’s proprietary and what needs to be shared differ.

What’s Worse Than Waiting to Hear From Colleges? Getting Interrogated About It

Impact of Social Acceptance on Food and Lifestyle Choices

by Louise

The article below caught my eye. We now drink more bottled water than soda. A big part of this has to do with how we as a society now perceive soda. Sure we still drink it but at least among the Totebag set it is a once in a way item (or banned completely) rather than drunk daily.

What food or lifestyle habits have you made changes to over the years. Any items you have given up due to social pressure?

Soda Loses Its U.S. Crown: Americans Now Drink More Bottled Water

Buying a car

by lagirl

Finally after 13 years of driving my Corolla I am going to buy a new car. Some of you may remember I wanted the Lexus IS 250 but have recently become enamored with the new Civic. Clearly the Civic will be much cheaper. I test drove it and it feels very similar to my Corolla.

Any tips of negotiating through email? They told me that they don’t offer 0% financing but i know a lot of companies do.

Also, I’m interested in changing my insurance company as well-anyone have one they really like?

Weather the weather

by S&M

Whether the weather is cold or whether the weather is hot
Whether the weather is nice or whether the weather is not
Whatever the weather we’ll weather the weather
Whether we like it or not!

We talked recently about liking summer, but only a little bit about why people like specific seasons (aside from a detailed list from the resident stand-up comedian). I’m curious what parts of the forecast people look at, beyond temperatures and precipitation that affects their commute.

How dependent on the weather are you? What types of weather do you need for your favorite activities? Do pollen or other weather-related factors influence your physical health and general well-being?

When talking is the wrong way to show support

by Honolulu Mother

I was interested in this Washington Post article suggesting that sometimes the best way to be a supportive parent is to stay quiet, at least until your child is ready to talk:

The first rule of sports (and all) parenting: Don’t speak

This is not a natural response for me. I have learned over time that there are times it’s best to say what you have to say and then drop it, or wait for a better time to raise a thorny topic — this isn’t limited to parenting, either — but I hadn’t really thought about the option to say nothing in a situation such as the one described in the article (disappointing loss in a big game). I’ll have to remember that as another tool in my parenting toolbox.

Is the don’t-talk approach something you would use, or have used, in a similar situation? What do you think of the advice?

Should you trust news reports about studies?

by MooshiMooshi

You know how everyone complains that studies get reported in the media which then get contradicted a year or two later? Well, it turns out there are reasons for this.

Study: half of the studies you read about in the news are wrong

It turns out that reporters tend to report on initial studies, which are more likely to be contradicted in one or more ways later on. In the world of science, inital studies are just that: initial.

Besides the attention grabbing headline, this article has a good critique of the reasons why initial studies tend to be reported instead of the later metareviews which are more likely to be correct.

This is a real problem. People learn about science mainly through the media, and if it feels like everything reported turns out to be wrong, people start distrusting science. If reporters were more careful to publicize the later, more complete studies, people might develop more faith in science. I think reporters, too, should spend more time explaining the process of science to their readers, rather than just pushing out headlines and brief explanations of what may be very small and very tentative studies.

Good science and financial reporters are in terribly short supply, And given the fragile state of the field of journalism these days, I don’t see it improving. But these are two areas that impact everyone. People have to make decisions about both science and financial information all the time, including when they vote. How can we improve public understanding?

Is The Villages for you?

by MBT

My parents are in the process of visiting their local versions of The Villages. Because I would love for them to be near me, I am visiting a few in Houston in the hopes of offering them a comparable choice, both in amenities and cost. From what I’ve learned, it is a pretty darn appealing lifestyle. The ones they are interested in are referred to as Continuous Care Retirement Centers, and offer a range of completely independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing/rehabilitation services, and memory care.

Their first choice is essentially like living on a cruise ship. You buy in to your unit, and they have 21 floor plans to choose from of various sizes. There is weekly housekeeping, including changing linens, and some sort of call button if you have a problem. The Villages takes care of all repairs and maintenance, replaces your appliances (and makes your lightbulb selections!) when they need to be replaced, covers all utilities other than cable, and includes a choice of several restaurants and a bar that has “social hours”. On the day they visited, lunch in the fancier restaurant included salmon, asparagus, garlic mashed potatoes, and a slice of hot apple pie with ice cream for dessert. (No cooking or dishes, and hot apple pie – I think my mom was sold at that point!) In addition, you have no lawn maintenance, etc.

All at no additional cost, they have a fitness room, with personal trainers who come in at appointed times, offering yoga and other classes, a pool for swimming laps, and various healthy living courses. They also offer technology courses such as how to use your iPhone and iPad, they have an art studio, pool tables,putting green, poker tournaments, two libraries, and have outings such as architectural tours, trips to the movies, happy hours, parties, and other things. They will take you to appointments, haircuts, or wherever else you need to go. They also have a private dining room you can reserve if you want to have guests, and have a guest suite available for visiting friends and family. Again – my mom is pretty enticed by the fact that you don’t have to do all the work to get your house ready for guests.

When they were visiting, they saw friends my dad had retired with, former neighbors, and ran into people from church. It is clearly a pretty social place. Some friends told them they like to come down for lunch, order two lunches but split one and bring the other back to their room. Then they stay in for dinner and just reheat the leftovers. I’m sure you could get take-out or a meal sent up from the restaurants as well if you didn’t feel like a shared dining environment.

I had never given much thought to where we’ll live when we’re older, but I have to say The Villages is now a contender. I like my independence and a fair amount of quiet time, but it seems that you could have whatever blend of social and private that you would like. It seems like an excellent way to extend the amount of time you are able to live independently, albeit at a cost. It appears that the buy-in will be about $150-$200K more than my parents will sell their house for, and the monthly fee will be somewhere between $5500-$6000. The pricing is all very sketchy and non-transparent, with the whole “if you are willing to sign the contract today, I can give you a discount of x” pressure. So far, the ones I have seen a reasonable distance from me are nice, but are smaller so they do not offer as many amenities, or three meals a day, and in some cases, no bar and no wine or spirits available with meals.

Do you have any experience with any version of retirement living? Have you given any thought to where you’d like to live when you hit your golden years?

Recharging

by Lark

DH and I had a brutal week a few weeks ago. Work was both high volume and high complexity, DH had 2 evening commitments, and one of the animals (and therefore one of our credit cards) wound up at the emergency vet, and everyone was fighting colds. By Friday night all I wanted to do was put on PJs at 6pm and have a glass of wine, but we had a friend’s birthday party to attend first. I woke up Saturday morning completely wrung out, and determined to spend the weekend recharging my batteries.

I ended up splitting my day into 4 parts. In the morning I puttered around the house, catching up on the laundry, paperwork, and general clutter that snuck in while I was distracted with the week. This went a long way to restoring my mood, since I’m definitely a person who needs outer order for inner calm. Then we all went out to lunch, which I love doing as a family on the weekends. After lunch I ran a couple errands, and bought the boys new basketballs. This was a strategic move on my part – when I got home from running errands they were thrilled to have new balls and spent the next 2 hours outside playing basketball wearing themselves out while I sat on the couch and read a book. When they came in, I spent another hour or 2 on general housework, and then a delightful hour cooking dinner while watching college basketball.

By evening, I felt a million times better. The house was back to general order, I’d had some downtime, and I’d had the double treat of a lunch date and a couple hours to myself reading.

When you’ve had an unusually exhausting week, how do you recharge to get your energy back?

Open thread

by Grace aka costofcollege

Today we have an open thread for discussion on any topic.

Originally I had written today’s post about the SAT and college prep, but since we discussed that a bit in recent days it makes sense to open up today’s discussion to any topics you choose.  However, here’s the original post I wrote in case you’d still like to talk about it (and take the quiz):

Can You Answer 10 Hard-But-Not-That-Hard SAT Questions From 1926?

How did you do?  What do you think of how the SAT has changed over the years?

Let’s discuss the SAT, test prep, college prep, what we’re seeing among the kids we know, college search and selection, jobs after graduation, skipping college (gasp), myth vs. reality, anxiety or lack of it, brag, complain, etc.  Let’s ask questions and share our wisdom.

A Different Way to Meal Plan

by Lark

For years I have done our weekly meal plan around our protein. Each week I jot down a chicken dish, a beef dish, a pork dish, a soup or seafood (depending on the season), and a pasta dish. We have pizza once each week, and that just leaves one night to go out, get take out or eat cereal for dinner. After I write down the main dish, I fill it in with whatever sides/veggies I can think of. It has been my standby system for at least 10 years, maybe more.

Lately, though, I’ve switched it up. Winter in the South has some of my favorite vegetables, and I’m finding that I’m planning more around what vegetables are available rather than the old system. I find I want to eat as many of my favorites as I can before the season passes. So, this week’s meal plan started like this:

Monday – Kale salad
Tuesday – Roasted Brussels sprouts
Wednesday – Black beans (okay, not a vegetable but one of my favorite foods, and I have such a good recipe for homemade, I love them)
Thursday – Sweet potatoes
Friday – Caesar salad

Once I knew what veggies I wanted to eat, I filled in the rest. Now the meal plan looks like this:

Monday – Kale salad, pan seared tuna, garlic rice
Tuesday – Roasted Brussels sprouts, pan fried chicken thighs (this meal needs something else – will probably add sweet potato biscuits because I have some in my freezer)
Wednesday – Black bean soup and cheese quesadillas
Thursday – Sweet potatoes, grilled pork chops (will probably add green beans this night as the boys don’t like sweet potatoes)
Friday – Caesar salad, pizza (will do homemade salad and DH will pick up the pizza on the way home)
Saturday – Oyster roast with friends

Next week I want to fit in broccoli and winter squash.

Totebaggers (that does NOT roll of the tongue as easily as “Jugglers” used to): what’s for dinner tonight at your house? Any great recipes to share? What are your favorite vegetables?

Is Furniture Shopping Hard on a Relationship?

by Honolulu Mother

I’d never heard of the theory that Ikea is a relationship death trap before reading this NYMag article:

Psychologists Explain Why Ikea Is a Relationship Death-Trap

I can’t say I’ve ever fought at Ikea, although since we don’t have one here my Ikea experiences with my husband have not focused on serious furniture shopping. Going during a vacation, to take advantage of the option to put your small children in a supervised playroom for an hour while you browse children’s duvets, is probably not the kind of stressor people are talking about.

However, I can’t say that furniture shopping has struck me as a relationship-stressor in general, even though it can be a tedious and time-consuming process. How about others? Are you nodding along with the author, or are you bemused at the idea?

Office Dress Code – Is this Good Advice?

by AustinMom

I have worked in my industry and in my city for all of my professional life. I can say that over the past 30 years office wear has become more casual for both men and women. While some meetings and events still require formal business attire, mostly it is business casual. I came across this infographic. Of course it includes click bait – “style tricks that could earn you a promotion” – that pertains only to women.

I would agree with some of this, but maybe it is due to our warmer climate, but short sleeves (that come half-way between your shoulder and elbow) are not an issue in the work place. However, cap sleeves, sleeveless or spaghetti straps are offlimits unless they are under a jacket for women. I am surprised at how many younger women (35 and younger) try to pull off leggings in the workplace. It struck me last week when I went into the office, the number of leggings and tunic sweaters I saw.

How do people dress in your workplace?

This Infographic Is Your Ultimate Guide to Dressing for Work

2017 Politics open thread, February 26 — March 4

Open for discussion.

This happened yesterday.

Perez wins DNC chairmanship

The behind-the-scenes calls underscored why the race was broadly seen as a proxy battle between the Sanders-aligned progressive wing of the party, which supported Ellison, and those more closely connected with Hillary Clinton and Obama, who largely backed Perez.

By selecting Perez — and again spurning Sanders supporters — Democrats risk the backlash that could come with leaving the left wing of the party disappointed a second time in the past year.

Change your location, change your personality

by Grace aka costofcollege

Your Personality Changes When You Move to a New Place

… The degree of influence that place has on an individual can depend on what’s driving that place’s personality to begin with. Jason Rentfrow, a psychologist at the University of Cambridge, has reviewed three different potential factors that may, together or separately, drive state and regional variation: migration patterns, ecology, and social influence….

… the most powerful influence on someone who moves may be good ol’ peer pressure. Cultural institutions and values span generations and inculcate newcomers through “social contagion,” and people tend to absorb practices and values of those around them. Schaller says social susceptibility may be one of the strongest forces in encouraging new residents to dial up some personality traits while toning down others. For example, a network of happy people can make a person happier; on the other hand, adults who move to new areas where they are in the ideological minority often feel isolated and become less able to take the perspective of others.

This seems right.  For example, I’ve seen a person become more assertive and brash when they moved from the south to a big city up north.  Have you observed or experienced similar changes?  Is it better to adapt, or to keep your hometown personality?  If you’ve moved, how would you describe your hometown’s personality compared to that of your present location?

Safety in schools

by WCE

Portland is progressing toward an “equity” policy for school discipline similar to that described in St. Paul. If my children’s school became unsafe, I would quit my job and homeschool. These are the stories my rural relatives tell about schools in “the cities.” (MSP is the major airport closest to everyone.)

To what extent do you believe that the push for equity in school discipline supported by former President Obama has contributed to the school discipline situation in St. Paul? What other thoughts do you have about safety in schools?

No Thug Left Behind

Open thread

Open for discussions on any topics of your choosing.

Here’s a new twist on a much discussed topic — juggling career and family.

A Strategy for Happy Dual-Career Couples
How some working parents make a counterintuitive approach work: Both take on new or challenging jobs at the same time

This article rubbed me the wrong way.  Maybe it was the suggestion that an au pair was the solution for families with two challenging careers that demanded long hours. Or maybe it was this declaration by one of the fathers featured in the story.

“There was no question that Michelle needed to be offering her talents and passions to a wider community” after caring for their children at home for several years, says Mr. Martin, 41. They met during college while both were studying in Spain, and he understands her desire to do international development work. “It’s kind of like, ‘You can’t stop the wind,’” he says.

What do you think?

Kangaroo Care

by WCE

When I read this article on kangaroo care for premature babies in poor countries, it gave me joy. The world is a better place because premature babies in developing countries are receiving good care from their parents. My first three children were 37 and 35 weekers and I remember the hours spent fighting jaundice, helping them eat, and, once they were six weeks past their due dates, spending hours calming their reflux-y selves. What has recently brought you joy?

Saving Babies’ Lives by Carrying Them Like Kangaroos

Open thread Presidents’ Day

Are you off from work today?  Do your kids have this week off from school?  Any special plans?

What else is on your mind today?

I am still slowly going through the Washington Post Presidential podcast series.  Yesterday I listened to the Andrew Jackson episode again after reading about comparisons between him and Donald Trump.  My latest “favorite” president is James Garfield, who may have been great had his term not been tragically cut short by an assassin’s bullet (and the poor medical care he received).  Do you have a favorite president?

The power of essential oils

by S&M

I’m intrigued by this idea. I think of essential oils as expensive, but maybe not, compared to cleaning products. Have you tried this or anything similar? How did it work?

Add essential oils to your cleaning routine.

Just as color can lift our mood, scent can be calming, energizing, or clarifying. Rosemary is refreshing and makes a great disinfectant; tea tree oil is calming and makes a good all-purpose cleaner; and orange oil is cheerful and works well for degreasers. The Kitchn archives are full of recipes for any mood or mess.

10 Ways to Fill Your Kitchen with Positive Energy

The Rise and Fall of DARE

by Honolulu Mother

According to this article, DARE has seen its funding mostly dry up in recent years as education departments finally took notice of all the evidence that it didn’t actually work:

DARE: The Anti-Drug Program That Never Actually Worked

Yes, the program known for giving our nation’s police officers a nice family-friendly outing and PR opportunity and for causing a generation of kids to lecture their parents about the beer in the cooler at the family cookout. I don’t know if they’ve stopped offering it in the local schools now, but if so, it was too late for my kids, who all went through it in late elementary and picked up all kinds of interesting alternative facts from the friendly police officers teaching the class. My favorite was the assertion that alcohol and coffee work the same way: first they make you more active, then after you drink more, they slow you down and put you to sleep.

Did you, or your kids, go through DARE? What do you think of it? Are their better alternatives for drug education?

Happiness, marriage, divorce

by Grace aka costofcollege

Feeling romantic on this Valentine’s Day?  Here’s a theory that would support trying to stay in a marriage that is not horrible.

We have a script in our heads about what divorce does, much of it lifted from the divorce revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. Two people meet … they fall in love … they develop irreconcilable differences, or they grow apart, and must split so that at least one of the parties can develop into their truest, highest self.

But more recent research suggests a very different truth about happiness. As Daniel Gilbert argues in the brilliant book “Stumbling on Happiness,” unless our circumstances are truly unbearable, our brains will seek to find their natural level of happiness, like floodwater evening out across a plain. Whatever we are stuck with … whatever we commit to … we will find ways to make it work — and we will be just as happy with it as we would have been with any other outcome.

Under this theory, all other forces being equal, those who avoid divorce end up with the same long-term level of happiness that they would have had post-divorce … and they skip the short-term financial and emotional pains of separation.

What do you think?

And have you seen evidence of this trend?

Study: More Older Adults Prefer ‘Living Apart Together’

Among the comments, this one made me laugh:

My friends and I all want to be married on the national guard plan. 1 weekend a month. Two weeks in the summer.

Favorite Museum Exhibits

by WCE

This WSJ article discusses the visit of historic medieval manuscripts from Oxford College to the Folger museum in Washington, D.C. (starts Feb. 4) and then to New York’s Center for Jewish History in May.

Most of the works in “500 Years of Treasures From Oxford” will be making their U.S. debut. Among them are some historic best sellers. A 15th-century manuscript of Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” includes an elaborate floral border around rows of exquisitely rendered Middle English text and penciled-in instructions, never erased, for the book’s decorations. A 15th-century manuscript of Homer’s “Iliad,” in Greek, features unusual red-orange designs that run alongside the text and are attributed to the scribe Ioannes Rhosos of Crete.

…. the collection contains 13 rare Hebrew manuscripts, an extraordinary number for one library. A 12th-century prayer book once owned by a Sephardic Jew who traveled to England contains notes that use Hebrew characters to write Arabic words on the fly-leaves—the only such example from medieval England. A 13th-century book of psalms includes side-by-side Latin and Hebrew versions. The college’s scholars likely would have used these works, which will be part of the tour, to learn Hebrew.

The rarity and scale of the exhibit reminds me of a King Tut exhibit I visited ~15 years ago in the Bay Area. If I were closer to Washington, D.C. or New York City, I would want to visit this display and I would take my children along, whether they claimed to be interested or not.

For those of you near one of those cities, do displays like this appeal to you? What museum exhibits do you find most memorable?

An Oxford College Sends Renaissance Rarities to the U.S.

How did your home get its ‘look’?

by S&M

This could go two ways–home offices or decorators.

A couple of regulars work from home frequently, and some of us might remember a regular having an office space constructed at home a few years ago. What kinds of spaces do people here use, and what office space do they envision in their ideal home?

We’ve talked about what people have on their walls, but how did it get there, and how did the rest of people’s homes get their “look”? Has anyone used a decorator, either full-on or something like this online service?

5 Fantastic Home Offices We Love

Open thread

by Grace aka costofcollege

Open thread today so discuss whatever is on your mind.  Here’s one topic to consider:

What are your family traditions, either now or when you were growing up?  For instance, have you always celebrated birthdays in a certain way, maybe with a certain type of cake?  Do you have traditional yearly trips or events?  Family game nights?  Bedtime or dinner rituals?  Holiday celebrations?  Often religion is an important part of family tradition.  So is food.  What about traditional songs or games?

How important are traditions to your family?

Never Give All the Heart (to your colleagues)

by Honolulu Mother

This NYMag article briefly summarizes a much longer Harvard Business Review article by Adam Grant and Reb Rebele on the trade-off between being a giver at work (good for the organization!) and being too generous with yourself (bad for you!)   The sweet spot is apparently to be generous, but to know your limits and keep something back for yourself.

Where do you fall along the spectrum from taker to selfless giver (there’s a grid in the HBR article), at work and at home?  I suspect most of us will self-report as self-protective givers, the sweet spot, but I also suspect that category covers a wide range from aiming to have everyone owing you just one more favor than you owe them, to being an almost-selfless giver who holds just enough in reserve to avoid burnout.  And, I suspect most of us are closer to the selfless-giver end of the spectrum at home than at work.

What are you watching?

by Louise

I have found discussions of shows, especially on streaming services and movies, to be a great ice breaker and a source of conversation with people around town I interact with.
I learn the names of some new shows, we have a good chat about shows we have watched. Beats talking about the weather.

I began watching Outlander. I had read one book in the series a while ago (didn’t realize there were so many). I am learning about Scotland as I go along. Very good place for a hiking holiday.

So, what shows have you been watching ? Any movie recommendations ?

Where the 1% attend college

by MooshiMooshi

Here is an utterly fascinating collection of data charts, showing where the types of colleges that the 1% attend vs the schools that the bottom 60% attend. It isn’t surprising that elite private schools do not enroll many of the bottom 60%. Near the bottom is a great chart showing the colleges with the highest mobility rates – the schools that propel students from lower income families into a higher income category, The chart shows the top 10, but you can type in the name of any school and get its position. My own employer came in at 75, which is not bad at all considering there are at least over 1000 schools on this list. We also have less than 1% enrollment of one-percenters, and 48% from the lower 60%.

The question that must be asked: why isn’t more charitable giving directed to the schools that are most successful at propelling lower income students into higher income categories? Charitable giving to universities is dominated by money going to the elites, which do not function well as engines of mobility. I think this idea of mobility as a measure of success needs to be more publicized, and donors who care about education should be encouraged to give to the schools that are already doing a good job at mobility.

Some Colleges Have More Students From the Top 1 Percent Than the Bottom 60. Find Yours.

Opinions? Should colleges be rewarded for helping more students move upwards?

Furniture

by L

We haven’t talked about furniture in a while. Has anyone found any new pieces lately? Any particular recommendations for dining room furniture? The Abbey needs a new dining room table as the children have destroyed the previous one (Pottery Barn) as well as the chairs (Jordan’s, even worse!). Looking for wood, no leather or upholstered seats.

Recently we were struck by the price difference between the “factory outlet” store, with a table and 4 chairs for $700, and the “handmade in Vermont” store, where the tables start at around $4,000! Feel free to comment on price/quality differences and how tariffs could change these.

Art Imitating Life: Smoking and Drinking in Movies

by Honolulu Mother

I was amused by this Pacific Standard article noting James Bond’s transition from a heavy smoker to a nonsmoker over the course of his cinematic life:

The Smoking Habits of James Bond

It reminded me of some instances of changes in society’s attitude toward something being noticeable when watching older movies — for instance, we no longer see anything like the drunken goose uncle in Aristocats and the moonshine-swigging swamp mouse in The Rescuers, Disney movies released during my childhood. And the ones dating from my childhood were no longer using stereotypes such as the crows from Dumbo (and the portrayal of plantation life in the not-available-for-viewing Song of the South), not to mention those nasty gossiping elephants.

Another old movie trope that just seems weird and fetishy now was the feisty-woman-who-needs-a-spanking, as detailed here by Jezebel:

‘I Don’t Know Whether to Kiss You or Spank You’: A Half Century of Fear of an Unspanked Woman

Do you have any favorite examples of things in old movies that wouldn’t be there in something made today?

Breaking survivalist stereoptypes

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

This article interested me because I have survivalist tendencies. I don’t have the proverbial snowball’s chance of ever actually surviving any natural or man-made disaster, but I look at the big tubs of freeze-dried food from Costco, and wonder vaguely about acquiring some more gold, and just generally spiral down into wondering if I should develop an arsenal and start making hundreds of pounds of jerky in my neglected dehydrator.

DOOMSDAY PREP FOR THE SUPER-RICH

2017 Politics open thread, January 29 — February 4

We’ve had some spirited discussions recently.  Too heated or appropriately provocative?  What’s your opinion?  Do you want to continue this weekly politics thread?

 

Social class and career opportunities

by Grace aka costofcollege

Do you have a high class profile?

High-Class Hobbies Will Help You Land a Top Job, Unless You’re a Woman

Social class operates visibly and invisibly: Obvious signals include who your parents are, the neighborhood you grew up in, and the schools you went to. But there are less obvious clues, too, like what you do with your free time (playing polo or basketball) and the music you listen to (country or classical). Sending the right signals could lead to a career breakthrough — depending on how privileged your gender is.

Compare these two examples.

If you read the article you’ll see that the picture is complex, with race, sex, college, and type of employer coloring the results.

Rate your profile using the factors listed in the table above.  Where do you fit in on the High/Low Class spectrum?  Have you ever tried to manipulate your profile?  Do you think your profile matters in your particular situation?  Has a lower class profile ever worked in your favor?

Referencing the movie “Hidden Figures”, this article offers another perspective on what helps in opening doors to career growth.  With quantitative skills there is less need “to impress interviewers with nice clothes or family connections”.

Why more minorities should pursue a career in mathematics

Wealth concentration

by S&M

These two articles go together, and have a lot in them that people might want to discuss, from social issues to nit-picking the methods used.

Was there ever a time when so few people controlled so much wealth?
Oxfam’s latest report says that the richest 62 people own as much as the poorest 3.6 billion. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Do 8 men really control the same wealth as the poorest half of the global population?
According to the latest Oxfam report, the richest eight people in the world are as wealthy as the bottom 50% of the world’s population. But let’s scrutinise these numbers a bit more.

 

 

6 Habits of Highly Organized People

by Honolulu Mother

As a disorganized person, I thought the advice in this Washington Post article was pretty good:

6 Habits of Highly Organized People

The first two tips, keeping organizational systems simple and using the force of habit and routine to get things done, are two of the major things that work for me to keep on top of things. I have certainly found that complex organizational systems — especially those designed by others! — are something I’m more likely to work around than to benefit from, or worse yet procrastinate doing whatever task they’re supposed to support because the system is a pain to deal with.

I have more trouble putting into effect the “a place for everything and everything in its place” suggestion, not because I disagree, but because in a small house with five people plus pets we have more of the ‘everything’ than we do of the places to put it. I think Hesper Desloovere, the author of this Hairpin article, put her finger on something important here:

The Life-Changing Magic of Money (love the title!)

The brilliant and bonkers documentary Queen of Versailles was originally meant to chronicle the construction of the most expensive house in America by one of the wealthiest families in the world. Instead, the filmmaker, Lauren Greenfield, had the good luck to capture bad fortune, as the Siegel family hemorrhages money, staff and sense during the 2008 economic crisis. It’s striking how quickly their perfectly manicured mansion goes to literal shit. As they lay off butlers, maids, nannies, chauffeurs and gardeners, their sprawling house begins to resemble one that would be featured on the show “Hoarders:” days-old dishes left to rot, animals neglected, and dog poop everywhere….

. . .Jackie was actually a hoarder all along. She pathologically acquired stuff, animals and children, leaning on an army of staff to squirrel the purchases away, feed the kids and clean up the shit. When the vast wealth starts to evaporate, it lays bare her problems and exposes a counterintuitive truth: stuff is a poor-people problem….

Like juicing, spinning and other rich white lady pastimes, the driving force behind the KonMari method is competitive deprivation….

Do you agree with this take?

And, do you have any tried-and-true organization tips that don’t require significant time or money or both?

Overemphasis on quarterly earnings?

by WCE

This article discusses emphasis on quarterly, rather than long-term, earnings. This is one of the biggest changes at my employer in my career. Managers used to be focused on technical aspects of projects and developing people, and now they spend a lot of time managing quarterly finances. (Cash flow is not an issue at the company.)

How to Stop Short-Term Thinking at America’s Companies

My favorite fact was one I’ve tried to find unsuccessfully in the past: 8% of stocks were held by institutional shareholders in 1950 compared to 70% of stocks today. I don’t know how 401(k) accounts are considered in that allocation, but pension funds will definitely have their returns affected by any increase in corporate taxes.

Despite the emphasis on profitability, the S&P including reinvested dividends has had historically moderate growth for the past couple decades. Since I opened a 401(k) in ~December 1998, the S&P (with dividends reinvested) has increased by 3.0% annually after inflation. Is there any agreement on the long-term expectation and whether this is expected to be typical? I’ve long been skeptical of the graphs by financial planners, but I’m 20 years into my career and I’m even more skeptical. Or am I missing something?

Calculator here:
S&P 500 Return Calculator, with Dividend Reinvestment

Why Does Sports Participation Drop Off by 13?

by Honolulu Mother

Apparently of the kids who play organized sports, only 30% are still playing by the end of middle school, as written up in this Washington Post article:

Why 70 percent of kids quit sports by age 13

The article suggests a number of reasons, which largely come down to the way the system is designed to be up-or-out and narrow down to the most serious and competitive players, in combination with similar increases in time demands and competitiveness in other activities forcing kids to choose just one or two things to focus on.

Do you have thoughts on this phenomenon? Is there a place for a once-a-week fun league in high school? Have your high schoolers found other fun ways to keep active when they’re not in organized sports?

‘Compass Goals’

by Risley

Here’s an article from Tiny Buddha on setting “compass goals” instead of typical New Year’s resolutions. Have you made resolutions for 2017? If so, would converting them to “compass goals” be beneficial to you, or do you prefer the traditional type? Also, did you make resolutions for 2016, and if so, how did you do?

And related: do you subscribe to any daily e-mail services like Tiny Buddha, to receive articles on life improvement or other topics? Which ones do you find helpful and which do you usually delete without reading?

How to Set New Year’s Goals You’ll Actually Enjoy Pursuing

Non-negotiables in house hunting

by Grace

Many of us have must-haves when shopping for a house.  These could include features like gas cooking, master bath with a large tub, eat-in kitchen, easy commute, top public schools, attached garage, no corner lot, two story, one story, etc.

What are your non-negotiables?  Look through this College Confidential discussion if you’d like to get more ideas.

Related, do you have any regrets about choosing your present home?  What features would you change if you could?

‘Opposition to Galileo was scientific, not just religious’

by WCE

This article detailing an alternative to Copernicus’ view that planets travel around the sun intrigued me, because correct hypotheses in science are usually the ones we learn and remember. It reminded me of the modern controversy over short term global cooling and warming trends and how to interpret the past 50 years of planetary temperature data, in light of limited historical data. Had you heard of Locher? Does he remind you of any other scientist? Does the controversy remind you of any other scientific controversy?

Opposition to Galileo was scientific, not just religious

Big projects

by S&M

New Year’s Day has come and gone. Did you use it for a big project? Friends of mine reportedly spent it quilting, reading Dostoevsky’s oeuvre on the couch, and watching a Scooby Doo marathon, and I’m sure some were watching football and parades. I got started cleaning out my closet. I’ve made stacks for things that are: too big, ready for recycling, a good fit, for when my waist is 2″ smaller, and for when my waist is 2″ smaller than that. It’s slow going, because there are very few items I’m not trying on. Here is another suggestion of a project worthy of at least one day, cleaning the kitchen. Did you undertake any projects on that day, or do you have any planned?

10 Ways to Reset Your Kitchen for the New Year

Sausage-making and the SAT

by Honolulu Mother

For those with high schoolers, here’s a deep dive into the sausage-making leading up to the new SAT this past spring. It sheds some light on where it’s coming from and is also entertaining in an industry gossip sense:

College Board faces rocky path after CEO pushes new vision for SAT

For everyone else, sorry about this topic! Perhaps you’d like to discuss actual sausage making? Have you ever tried it? We have and it’s a production, but having a freezer stocked with the end product is nice. Do you have a favorite sausage maker, either a national brand or local product?

‘Where is he that is born King of the Jews?’

by WCE

Only rarely do my interests in history, software modeling, Biblical interpretation and astronomy come together, so when I read a modern hypothesis of what the Magi (aka wise men) saw that brought them from “the East” to King Herod in Jerusalem, I was intrigued. Many of the events recorded in the Bible are so long ago, and recorded in such a way that it is difficult or impossible to understand what was written in its historical context. I had long considered “the Star” that brought the Magi from “the East” to be an example of such a mystery. However, use of astronomical modeling software makes trivial calculations that were excessively laborious for Kepler, who used his laws of planetary motion to attempt to understand the mystery of “the Star in the East” soon after discovering the laws.

Unfortunately, Kepler relied on a copy of the works of Josephus printed after 1544, which contained an error that caused Kepler to believe Herod had died in 4 BC, and so Kepler searched the skies for the two years prior to Herod’s death. Subsequent scholarship has identified an error in the 1544 printing of the works of Josephus and 1 BC is now believed to be the year Herod died, so the hypothesis of interest focuses on 2/3 BC. In September of 3 BC at the time of the Jewish New Year, the planet Jupiter came into conjunction with the star Regulus. The Babylonians called Regulus “Sharu” and the Romans called Regulus “Rex”, both of which mean king, so the Magi observed the King Planet come into conjunction with the King Star, which happens every 12 years. However, due to retrograde motion, a triple conjunction occurred due to a wobble in Jupiter’s orbit, which is much less common.This triple conjunction occurred within the constellation Leo. The expected Messiah would be from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10), which was represented by a lion (Leo). Leo is followed by the constellation Virgo and the expected Messiah would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), so it seems possible that the Magi (some of whom may have been Jews whose ancestors were left behind in Babylon) would associate kingship, Leo and Virgo with the expected Messiah.

Regardless of whether this hypothesis regarding the astronomical event that brought the Magi from “the East” (probably Babylon or Persia) is correct, some event caused the Magi to travel an extraordinary distance, to inquire of King Herod and to set off a slaughter of male infants in Bethlehem, a slaughter that was recorded by the historian Josephus and the apostle Matthew. It seems apparent that the Magi were priest-astronomers and had no idea their inquiry would result in infant slaughter. Philo the Elder of Alexandria wrote about Magi from the East with great respect for their knowledge of the natural world. The response of Herod and the priests in Jerusalem suggests that they respected the Magi as well. It is possible that Magi gained awareness of Jewish culture during the Babylonian captivity, when the Jewish elite including Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego became officials in the Babylonian Empire and Nebuchadnezzar made Daniel a Chief Magus. Even though we don’t know how the Magi gained knowledge of Jewish culture and writings, a few hundred years after the Babylonian captivity, the Magi had sufficient interest in the birth of a Jewish king to travel to Jerusalem and to inquire of Herod.

After being informed by Herod and the chief priests that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, the Magi proceeded from Jerusalem to Bethlehem and did not return to Jerusalem in order to inform Herod about what they had found, a situation which made Jesus’ birth one of if not the best-documented birth in ancient history. His death is, if the hypothesis is correct, equally well-documented. Passover begins on the 14th day of the Jewish lunar month of Nisan. Jesus must have died in a year on which that 14th day was a Friday, and Pilate was Roman procurator from 26 to 36 AD, so inquiry should focus on that date range. In 30 AD, Passover began on the equivalent of Friday April 7 and in 33 AD, Passover began on the equivalent of Friday April 3. The latter date is likely correct for a couple of reasons. First, Pilate seems reluctant to crucify Jesus. Sejanus, a notorious anti-Semite and regent for Emperor Tiberius, was killed in 31 AD for being a traitor and official Roman policy became to let the Jews alone. In 33 AD, Pilate would have every desire not to upset the Jews. Second, there was a lunar eclipse from noon to three on April 3, 33 AD, and an earthquake centered in Bithynia. A lunar eclipse resulted in a “blood moon”, which had particularly dark significance to ancient people. The lunar eclipse and earthquake just before the beginning of Passover (which began at sundown) made that Passover particularly memorable.

I found this hypothesis so convincing that I believe Jesus died at age 35 and not age 33, as has long been thought. Can you think of any other situations where astronomical information allows us to re-interpret ancient literature? Does any information in this summary surprise, frustrate or intrigue you, or change your thoughts about Epiphany, the traditional Christian feast to celebrate the visit of the Magi, held on January 6? (That’s just after the 12 days of Christmas.)

Biblical Reference:

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judea, art not the least among the princes of Judea: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. [WCE comment: A reference to Micah 5:2]

Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. Matthew 2:1-12, King James Version

Kepler Reference:De Stella Nova (1606); De vero anno (1614)

Interfamily financial friction

by Anonymous

This CollegeConfidential post must have hit a nerve because it generated so many comments.

Is this “greedy”? Really?

FIL passed away recently. FIL (and the sons) were terrible about money in the sense that they were always throwing wads of money at each other. “Here let me pay for that. No really I INSIST.” “No really WE INSIST.” Yada, yada.

Typical situation: When everyone was returning to base for the funeral week, SIL spent $200 to stock up the MIL/FIL house with food for the incoming hoard (it was empty for the season when they winter over in the south). H gave SIL $100 because MONEY. Not sure why it was our responsibility to pay for stocking the house (there are 5 siblings) since we live in the same place and were not the ones eating all that food, but that’s how it is. We’re wealthy – it’s not like it matters.

So people were spending hither and yon, and H and I had a discussion about whether everyone was going to keep track and start billing each other. We agreed that since MIL is not poor in any sense of the word, and all this tracking and billing would be a PITA (and why?), we would generally have MIL pay for her own expenditures as we went along.

Since she has a hard time getting around, one of the things I am trying to do now is pick up things at the market once a week or when I happen to be going I ask if she needs something. I get a separate bill and have them bagged separately and she reimburses me when I take them in. Tonight, I picked up a few things she asked for and made dinner at her house as well. H showed up and tried to waive off the $10 for her groceries. I took the money because that was the plan. Now he is having fits and says I’m just greedy. I basically told him to pound salt.

The initial comments indicate some readers believe other issues besides money are at play here.  But isn’t that usually the case?  Money can represent so many things — love, prestige, self-worth, independence, etc.

Misunderstandings can easily occur.  I was recently surprised when a relative insisted on compensating me for my Uber expenses after I did her a favor.  At first I was a bit surprised, as if she considered it a financial transaction instead of a favor.  Then I realized that she just viewed these types of things differently and did not want to burden me financially.  And I made a mental note that she would probably expect to be compensated if I asked her for a similar favor.

How does your family operate?  Do they “nickel and dime” expenses among each other?  Or do they tend to be more casual?  How are restaurant bills split?  Have you had major (or minor) disagreements?  Financial dealings between parents and their children can be particularly touchy.  Part of what makes these types of dealings potentially more complicated are discrepancies between family members’ wealth.  But even when everyone is in a similar financial position, misunderstandings can occur.

Have you ever borrowed or lent money to family?  How did that turn out?l

The most important historical events of your lifetime

by MooshiMooshi

What are the most important historical events of your lifetime?

Time magazine published this poll in which people ranked the most significant historical events in their lifetimes. Not surprisingly, 9/11 came out on top. But it is more interesting when the rankings are broken out by generation. The Silent Generation has a very different list from the Millennials. For the Silent Generation and the Baby Boomers, wars and civil rights dominate. For Generation X and Millennials, we see Obama’s election, mass shootings, and bombings. Generation X saw the end of the cold war as very important, but it doesn’t even appear on the list for Millennials. Only Millennials list the most recent recession. Perhaps everyone else has lived through multiple recessions and just saw this as one more?

The list that is closest to my personal list would definitely be the Generation X one. I would probably replace the Challenger disaster with Sandy Hook (which does appear on the Millennial list) because that was so huge for me, whereas I wasn’t realy following Challenger. How about you? Do your picks for important moments in recent history match up with your official generation? Are there other events you think are important that were unnoticed?

Americans Rank These 10 Historic Events as Most Important in Their Lifetimes

The List

by AustinMom

The Washington Post has compiled its annual list of what is “IN” and “OUT” for 2017. The article also provides a link to lists as far back as 1978.

What do you think of the list? Will you be happy that the “OUT”s are leaving us? Did you see the “In”s coming? Or, did you have look up what some of the items are?

Discuss!

The List 2017

2016 Totebag year in review and looking ahead to 2017

by Grace aka costofcollege

It’s been quite a year for discussions, particularly those of a political nature.  Since they were week-long posts, I excluded the weekly political open threads from this list.

Totebag posts that received the most page views in 2016:

  1. Hot political issues
  2. Totebaggy values
  3. Open thread
  4. Secret shame
  5. Supersmart kids
  6. On the fundamental inequality of the sexes
  7. Lean in?
  8. The unbearable hellishness of customer support
  9. The Frugalwoods
  10. Monday open thread & The GOP’s future? (tie)

Any thoughts?  What were your favorite posts and topics?  Any ideas for changes for our blog?  Do you think politics will continue to be a hot topic?