Teatotaling

by S&M

I know I’m not the only lightweight on the blog. I wonder if anyone’s tried some of these non-alcoholic beverages.

Teetotaling Made Trendy

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Is Nagging Really Emotional Labor?

by AustinMom

Before we go any further, I don’t think this a women’s only issue. After reading the article, I thought about our circle of friends and could only identify two couples where this “emotional labor” seems to be taken on by the male rather than female partner.

Maybe this article hit home because in the past few weeks, I have done several of these things that require the preliminary leg work, but feel thankless in the end. I agree my partner takes on specific household chores and does things I ask, but it is those things that take this emotional labor that he runs the other way from. And, his response is exactly like the author’s husband – make one phone call, decide it is too much effort, and try to change the “request” or do it where it causes me other work.

Totebaggers – Does your family resemble this dynamic, regardless of gender?

WOMEN AREN’T NAGS—WE’RE JUST FED UP

Job transitions

by Honolulu Mother

In this request for advice to New York Magazine’s Ask a Boss, an employee leaving a nonprofit worried that her soon-to-be-former boss expected her to still be available after her planned departure for another job:

‘I Quit, But My Boss Won’t Let Me Go!’

Have you ever had a previous job try to follow you to your new job? Do you have any tips for smooth transitions, both for leaving the old workplace in good shape to carry on without you and for preparing to hit the ground running in the new job?

Can We Agree to Disagree?

by AustinMom

This New York Times article came though just after I had blocked two “friends” on Facebook. I rarely block anyone on Facebook because they hold opposing views to mine. However, when their comments moved from respectfully disagreeing to name calling and spewing hate, I was done. I was wondering how we got to this point where we cannot agree to disagree on something, but we choose to only interact with people and in forums where we agree.

The article, which I found very interesting, talks about how you have to understand an idea or position before you can disagree with it. From Amazon to Facebook to the news channels we select, we tend to favor and consume more of the goods, services, ideas and positions we agree with. I purposefully listen to a talk radio show that I almost always disagree with the host. I don’t do it to torture myself as one friend suggested, but to try to be open to at least understanding a different point of view.

What troubled me most in this article is that students on college campus – a place I always thought of as one to explore various points of view – is the place that disagreement seems to be least tolerated. And, this builds on some comments I have seen on college discussions about does the college campus hold the same political viewpoint as my family that I thought were isolated.

Totebaggers – Do you see a trend of limiting your exposure to those media sources and people you agree with? Do you agree that we have lost the art of disagreement?

The Dying Art of Disagreement

Do Your Teens Get Enough Sleep?

by Honolulu Mother

It’s reported that very few teens get an adequate amount of sleep — on the order of 15% — and this is bad for them in a host of ways ranging from general health to mental focus, as discussed in this Psychology Today article:

Your Teen Needs More Sleep

This seems to go along with the recent suggestion that much of what is classified as ADHD could actually be a sleep disorder:

Could some ADHD be a type of sleep disorder? That would fundamentally change how we treat it.

I push my kids to get to bed at night, but there are challenges such as high homework loads, group projects where the group wants to meet online late at night, and of course the every-present electronic temptations. And of course since I get up earlier in the morning than they do, if I want to get enough sleep myself I can’t be staying up to make sure everyone really gets to bed at the time promised. So, I find that school vacations always start with the kids sleeping half the day as they catch up.

Do your teens and younger children get 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night? If not, is this a concern for you?

Open thread

Today we have an open thread all day.

Locally we celebrate Columbus Day in a big way, but I wonder if that will soon change.

Should the United States Celebrate Columbus Day?

Here’s the NYT’s opinion on how “symbols of hate” should be treated.

Robert E. Lee, Christopher Columbus … and Pétain?

Should I throw out my Dr. Seuss books?

Dr. Seuss museum to replace mural after complaints of racism

Twitter Wars

by Honolulu Mother

I was amused to read about this recent Twitter war between two science museums:

Man accidentally starts Twitter war between Natural History and Science museums

Much preferable to some other Twitter wars we’ve recently seen.

Do you prefer your Twitter wars between celebrities, politicians, venerable institutions, businesses, or brands? Or do you prefer to mix those categories? What Twitter war would you like to instigate?

Wolf vs. Coyote?

by WCE

This ODFW quiz will help you learn to distinguish between wolves and coyotes. (15 questions) It also showed me how I can improve in an area in which I initially have no knowledge. I am more confident that I could distinguish a wolf from a coyote at a glance after taking this quiz. Previously, I had just assumed all such animals are coyotes, since coyotes are more common.

Coyote and Gray Wolf Identification

Are You Doing What it Takes to be a Superager?

by AustinMom

This article came out a while back, but it just came across my feed again recently. I have seen a mild decline in my partner who retired 7 years ago. I saw it in myself after returning to work with a “hard” after 8 months off event though I did mentally stimulating things. Before I saw this article, I fell into the category of thinking engaging things and mild exercise would be enough. After reading the article and looking at people around me, I can see those superagers around me and they all have the characteristics of doing “hard” mental and/or physical activity. Totebaggers, are you doing what it takes to be a superager?

How do you become a superager? Many labs have observed that these critical brain regions increase in activity when people perform difficult tasks, whether the effort is physical or mental. The road to superaging is difficult, though, because these brain regions have another intriguing property: When they increase in activity, you tend to feel pretty bad — tired, stymied, frustrated. Superagers are like Marines: They excel at pushing past the temporary unpleasantness of intense effort. Studies suggest that the result is a more youthful brain that helps maintain a sharper memory and a greater ability to pay attention.

This means that pleasant puzzles like Sudoku are not enough to provide the benefits of superaging. Neither are the popular diversions of various “brain game” websites. You must expend enough effort that you feel some “yuck.” Do it till it hurts, and then a bit more.

In the United States, we are obsessed with happiness. But as people get older, research shows, they cultivate happiness by avoiding unpleasant situations. This is sometimes a good idea, as when you avoid a rude neighbor. But if people consistently sidestep the discomfort of mental effort or physical exertion, this restraint can be detrimental to the brain.

How to Become a ‘Superager’

Postponing ‘adult behavior’

by MooshiMooshi

This pretty much sums up my two teen boys. At 15 and 17, neither one dates, drinks, or drives. Their friends are all the same. They don’t even seem to have any interest in girls (or boys). I thought teens were supposed to be a hotbed of hormones. Was it something in the water?

Not drinking or driving, teens increasingly put off traditional markers of adulthood

What publications do you read?

by Finn

Louise recently asked for some advice on science magazines, but let’s expand that to publications in general.

What publications do you read, and would you suggest to your fellow totebaggers? Do you read hardcopy versions? Online? Kindle or other electronic copy?

What publications do you subscribe to, including online subscriptions? Are there any particular publications you subscribe to because you think they deserve your financial support?

Utility usage

by Finn

I was catching up on bills, including our utility bills, and took note of our usage over the past year. We’ve been averaging about 400 kwh/month of electricity, and just under 100 gallons/day of water. Our water usage has definitely been impacted by having lived through both a drought and electricity shortage, and we’ve also recently upgraded most of our toilets to 1 gpf models.

How much do you use? Have you taken any steps to conserve?

Open thread

Today we have an open thread all day.

This perspective on how to spend your free time caught my eye.  MMM might agree with it, depending on the goals you selected.

what do you like to do in your free time?

I’ve posed a question which I think is silly. It makes no sense to me at all. At best — I do not understand it.

Here’s a shot at a better one: what goals do you like to set for yourself, had you the time to work toward them?

Laundry!

by Honolulu Mother

It’s been quite a while since our last laundry post — more than two years, I should think, since I’m not seeing any listed under the Home & Garden tag or as a separate topic. So, I hereby declare it to be open season on laundry talk! As well as other housekeeping tips and questions folks may have.

In our laundry news, I have been using those wool dryer balls that you drizzle with lavender oil or something similar for a couple of years now, though intermittantly. We never have to worry about dryer cling in our climate so I can’t say how they do with that, but they do an ok job of unclumping clothes in the dryer and (with essential oil) lightly scenting them. Obviously this is fussier, not to mention more Totebaggy, than just throwing in a dryer sheet. So one could argue that the 30 seconds I spend dosing the dryer balls and tossing them in the dryer could be better spent folding clothes so that we would actually catch up with it all and people could sit on the laundry-folding couch.

What’s new, laundry-wise, in your neck of the woods?

The next Amazon location

by July

Dear Amazon, We Picked Your New Headquarters for You

Amazon has set off a scrum among cities that are hoping to land the company’s second headquarters — with the winner getting the prize of a $5 billion investment and 50,000 new jobs over the next two decades. We’re offering to help, using Amazon’s own criteria to identify a winning city.

A local news story highlighted Brooklyn and Bayonne, New Jersey as contenders for Amazon’s new headquarters.  High housing costs may be a negative factor for these locations.

Would you like Amazon in your city?  Can you make a strong case for or against your city?  Which nearby businesses, large or small, do you value?  Which do you wish would go away?  Are nearby commercial areas — office, retail, or other types — thriving?

Totebag Approved

by Louise

It’s been a while since we had a post on our favorite products. If you have any products or shopping websites that you want to share let’s hear of them.

It’s not far from the holiday shopping season, so if you are doing some early shopping let us know if you had some good finds.

Apples

by Honolulu Mother

Apparently the Honeycrisp was just the beginning — Big Apple is planning newer, more amazing apples to take over our grocery shelves.

Honeycrisp was just the beginning: inside the quest to create the perfect apple

I like Honeycrisp quite well, but I liked Pink Lady before they were cool (or at least before they were in the big boxes). My daughter always wants to get Ambrosia apples. But of course we have a more limited apple selection here as the only locally grown apples are mountain apples (which though good are not technically apples). Do you have a favorite apple? Do you live in apple country? And what do you do with your apples — eat them all out of hand, bake with them, make applesauce or cider?

Disaster preparations

by July

Considering recent events, do you want to share ideas on disaster preparedness?

After Sandy we lost power for about a week, but still had gas and water.  But this WaterBOB Emergency Drinking Water Storage (100 Gallons) looks like a good idea.  (It’s currently unavailable.)

I can personally recommend this Portable Power Pack, which can be recharged in your car or at home.

The next step before getting a full-house generator could be this Honda 2000 Watt Portable Generator with Inverter for $999.  Any opinions?

What tips do you have on surviving hurricanes and other similar events?  An added complication that was particularly apparent in Florida is how to help elderly parents manage these disasters.  Have you considered changes to your disaster preparations after recent hurricanes?  How confident are you that our government will be there to support us with the vital services needed after any future disasters?

Halloween already?!

by Honolulu Mother

The Halloween stuff has been showing up in stores since late August or early September, and 2/3 of my offspring already have costume plans — inflatable T-Rex costumes, which they’re also trying to talk some friends into getting, so they can go as a pack of T-Rexes. Possibly they were inspired by this series of videos:

Are you ordering / working on Halloween costumes or decor already, or are you reading this post and thinking, “Even on the Totebag we’re doing Halloween already?”

Is this your bag?

by S&M

Porn didn’t necessarily need to be discussed with kids ten years ago, but now it’s pretty much unavoidable. What conversations have you had with your kids about it? Do you have “grownup” movies and toys at your house? How do you, um, handle that around kids?

In one family I know, a teen decided the fuzzy tip of a Sharpie felt good. The parents believe any kind of masturbation to be sinful, and were extremely upset at the colored genitals. I’m pretty sure their hollering and tears were not how they had envisioned that part of their parenting. The following more thoughtful communication is from someone in a closed Facebook group. I repeat it with permission.

He likes to know which things are safe, and which things are unsafe and why. I started with telling him that I know it’s easy to accidentally stumble onto porn on the internet, and what to do if that happens. The part that he wanted to ask about again was when I told him how seeing those kinds of images and videos has made a lot of people unhappy with their own bodies, have unrealistic expectations of other people’s bodies and likes, and that it can get you hooked on certain thoughts which is a bummer because it’s best to find out what you like through your own thoughts and experiences rather than fixating on something you saw someone else do on a screen. I told him that when he’s old enough to have a physical relationship, he’ll be a better partner if he’s interested in finding out what makes him tick that way rather than going into it trying to act out something he saw someone else do.

Another person posted the following video.

Around our house, it’s pretty simple. Since I don’t have sex, toys, or movies (and I only like the first of those three things), there’s very little to talk about. I do occasionally make comments to let him know we can talk about it any time, but so far he hasn’t taken me up on it.

‘Embarrassment of riches’

by July

What the Rich Won’t Tell You

This article touched on a few points relevant to Totebag discussions.  Here’s one.

And, as they try to be “normal,” these wealthy and affluent people deflect the stigma of wealth. If they can see themselves as hard workers and reasonable consumers, they can belong symbolically to the broad and legitimate American “middle,” while remaining materially at the top.

The author suggests that such attitudes deter us from pushing for more income distribution.

Your thoughts?

Calculus for Kidlets

by Ada

It must be time for another calculus topic, right?

I found this article interesting, though a bit naive.I agree with the premise (and might even buy the book and subscribe to the newsletter!).

5-Year-Olds Can Learn Calculus

Basically:

Finding an appropriate path hinges on appreciating an often-overlooked fact—that “the complexity of the idea and the difficulty of doing it are separate, independent dimensions,” she says. “Unfortunately a lot of what little children are offered is simple but hard—primitive ideas that are hard for humans to implement,” because they readily tax the limits of working memory, attention, precision and other cognitive functions. Examples of activities that fall into the “simple but hard” quadrant: Building a trench with a spoon (a military punishment that involves many small, repetitive tasks, akin to doing 100 two-digit addition problems on a typical worksheet, as Droujkova points out), or memorizing multiplication tables as individual facts rather than patterns.

Far better, she says, to start by creating rich and social mathematical experiences that are complex (allowing them to be taken in many different directions) yet easy (making them conducive to immediate play). Activities that fall into this quadrant: building a house with LEGO blocks, doing origami or snowflake cut-outs, or using a pretend “function box” that transforms objects (and can also be used in combination with a second machine to compose functions, or backwards to invert a function, and so on).

Of course, there is concern that the Tiger Moms will take this too far (not clear exactly how they can be more Tigerish), and, separately, the poor children will be left behind. The author asserts that any “semi-literate” adult can lead kids in this kind of exploration, but I am skeptical the author has ever seen a “semi-literate” person try to teach math.

However, math instruction is one of the reasons I decided to remove my children from the school system. I don’t need them to be accelerated, but I want them to find joy in it. The focus on getting all kids to a certain standard has sucked all magic out of math (at least in the way I have seen it implemented).

The resources we will use this year are Beast Academy and Life of Fred. I find these to be whimsical and thought provoking, though BA does have some serious computation expectations. I also love Kangaroo Math (a international competition that is the only source I could find for challenging math for very young kids). The difficult but solvable practice problems are for kids as young as first grade.

Do your kids love math? Did you? What do you think schools should do differently? How can I get my kids to be the youngest to pass the AP Calc exam ever and win some kind of homeschool award and validation?

Today’s Juggle

by Louise

It’s been more than eight years since I began reading and slowly contributing to this group. At that time, I was really feeling the stress of the juggle. Two young kids, a full time job, a move, then a new job in a new city….

I can’t believe the amount of time that has passed since then. Over the years, I learnt the art of taking and asking for flexibility at work. I managed to get my kids to activities after school some weekdays. I continue to work, which at one time was becoming increasingly difficult with the juggle.

Now, things are changing again as my office is moving and location change will mean more commute, but it is not too bad. It will be close to DS’s potential HS, so I can pick him up if he wants to do after school clubs.

How does your juggle look today? It may be different with grown kids but aging parents in the picture. Others may have changed jobs or office locations, kids may be doing extra curricular activities that add to the juggle. Let’s revisit where it all began.

Saving Stuff for Children and Grandchildren

by Honolulu Mother

This Washington Post article had some suggestions on what items might be worth holding on to for children or grandchildren:

Just because an item doesn’t spark joy doesn’t mean you should toss it

In brief, the author (who helps people declutter) says that it’s worth setting aside a few things intended to be passed on to children and grandchildren, but choose (1) not too much — a couple of items, not a whole collection; (2) mostly small items; and (3) items that have special meaning.

We are not at a downsizing stage of life right now. We do regularly give away outgrown books and clothes, but we’re not looking at those with too much of a sentimental eye. (With some exceptions — my daughter didn’t want me to get rid of the Humphrey books, books about a classroom hamster written at about an 8-10 year old reading level.) So while this advice sounds ok to me, it’s not something I’ve had much cause to think through.

For those of you closer to this topic either as givers or recipients, what do you think of this approach?

The future of libraries

by July

Libraries changing offerings in response to public demands

Changing patron tastes and needs are inspiring local libraries to transform themselves to remain relevant.

It was once forbidden to drink, eat or talk in libraries, but now formerly silent sanctums throughout Westchester County are offering cafes, cooking classes and Zumba to get the public through the doors.

“It’s all a part of lifelong learning,” said Susan Thaler, deputy director at the Yonkers Public Library. “Checking out books is an important part of our mission, but it’s not all our mission.”

Have you seen this in your local libraries?  What changes should be encouraged?  Many retail stores are going through a similar evolution, trying to find ways to attract shoppers by offering them experiences in addition to merchandise.

Do you like your local library?  When will we see the end of most paper books and the shrinking of library shelf space to a small fraction of current proportions?  What’s the future of libraries?

Labor Day open thread

by July

We have a Labor Day open thread all day.

Here’s something to try.

Find your True Cost of Living

There are many cost of living rankings out there, but most of them give cost of living averages for the “average American household.” Here’s the issue – the “average American household” doesn’t exist. Income and expenses vary widely between a single millennial to a household of two parents and three kids. Our cost tool explores the costs and expenses of living in a place based on your own, specific needs.

The True Cost of Living tool allows you to add details like household size, income, occupation, and even food preferences.

 

Desperation Dinners

by Honolulu Mother

On the old site some years back we once had a topic on desperation dinners: those old faithfuls that you can throw together from what’s in the freezer and pantry on those nights when everyone’s hungry, time is short, and nothing was planned. Some suggestions from that topic were recorded in the Juggle Cookbook:

The Juggle Cookbook

I suggest we do an update now, in honor of Sky’s return to work. What do you turn to when you get home at the end of the day and realize that nothing’s been planned for dinner?

Some of our desperation dinners are pesto pasta (jarred pesto that lives in the fridge, toss in grape tomatoes or chopped tomatoes or whatever is around that seems like it could go in); creamed tuna on rice and creamed chicken on rice with peas; sausages from the freezer either pan-fried with butter or broiled or done on a Foreman-type grill with micro-steamed veggies and smashed potatoes on the side; boneless skinless chicken thighs defrosted just enough to cut up stir fried with whatever veg we have around and some sauce from the mason jar of generic stir-fry sauce (house-made) that lives in the fridge, with rice.

What are your household’s desperation dinner?

Summer regrets?

by July

Do you feel a tinge of regret because you have not made the most of your summer?

Maybe you feel as if you didn’t take full advantage of the sunny beaches, fun fairs, and good food of summer.  Maybe that summer bucket list was mostly left untouched.  Do Facebook and Instagram photos make you feel as if you had a boring summer by comparison?  Do you have the August blues?

August Blues Are Like Sunday Blues, But for a Full Month

…  If you’re a summer hater, you’re antsy to be done with it and move on already, and if you’re a summer lover, you’re probably feeling some panic about it coming to an end. In both cases, too, there is likely guilt over not having done enough with this time, because what season comes with more pressure to “make the most” of it than summer?

What about you?  Any late summer regrets or other anxiety?  Or are you feeling you’ve taken full advantage of the warm weather and are ready to move on to autumn?

What have been the best and worst parts of your summer so far?  (We still have Labor Day!)

Popular Majors at Selective Versus Nonselective Colleges

by Honolulu Mother

We have argued before about the value of majors that don’t directly tie in to a well-paid job. A recent 538 article notes that students at selective colleges are the ones more likely to be going into, say, social sciences or performing arts, while their peers at less selective colleges focus more on technical or directly job-related fields:

Students At Most Colleges Don’t Pick ‘Useless’ Majors

The article suggests that it could be that the selective school undergraduates assume they’re going on to graduate school so the undergraduate major matters less, or it could be that they expect their college name and network to open doors even where their major isn’t pre-professional. I would note also that more selective schools may not even have the pre-professional majors. Have you noticed this effect, and if so do you have thoughts on what causes it?

Smartphones have ‘destroyed’ young people

by Ivy

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

As a Gen Xer I am still shocked that kids have no interest in driving because it was such an important rite of passage for everyone that I knew or saw on TV/movies in the 80’s and 90’s.

Have the parents of older kids seen this shift in their households away from physical get togethers with friends towards social media? Does any of this ring true?

Our families and The Rules

by Louise

I have thought of myself as being more of a strict parent but lately I have been amazed at the rules some of my neighbors set. A big one is no sugar or nothing remotely unhealthy. Another one is reading for two hours every night. Yet another is no tablet devices for the kids. There are other practices like no lunch on weekends, eat whatever is in the pantry or fridge that are more lax.

What are your family rules? Are they stricter or more relaxed than the ones you had growing up?

The rural poor

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

I think this article is interesting, but I can’t decide if it’s too political. I have a bad feeling it might be. It’s from the Wall Street Journal, but I’ve saved it to my Google Drive so that it’s accessible.

STRUGGLING AMERICANS ONCE SOUGHT GREENER PASTURES—NOW THEY’RE STUCK

It’s about how the rural poor aren’t migrating to where the jobs are anymore. They’re too comfortable where they are, and yet they have no prospects where they are. It’s a far cry from earlier generations who just got up and moved. They fear immigrants are taking their jobs, and yet immigrants are the ones leaving everything they know and coming to the cities. It’s a difficult situation to resolve.

Open thread

We have an open thread all day today.

Are watching the solar eclipse today?  Are you tired of the hype?  Is anyone in the total eclipse zone?  In any case, you can watch live streaming of the event from wherever you are.

Check out NASA’s solar eclipse interactive map to get details on your location.

How To Stay Sane During a Solar Eclipse
The terrifying beauty of totality is best confronted in a crowd.

If you won’t see the total solar eclipse, here’s when your next chance will be

Seeing anything strange today?

Football – a debate

by Louise

With fall fast approaching, we return to sports at all levels – school, college and pro. A big one is football.

I was discussing football with my kid and he mentioned that students were out of school due to football related concussions. I happened to have lunch with a bunch of people and one guy was very opposed to his kid playing football. Then, I watch Last Chance U where football seems to be the only way out for young men from disadvantaged backgrounds. They want to play in spite of concussions hoping that they will be recruited to big football schools. I was troubled by this.

Next, I see this article on CTE.

CTE found in 99% of studied brains from deceased NFL players

What do you think ? Do you think football will continue as is or will people slowly turn away ? Will kids continue to play given the emerging research ? Discuss.

Vermin

by Honolulu Mother

Here’s a topic to make everyone cringe: What problem creatures tend to infest homes or yards in your area, and what do you do to fight them off?

In Hawaii, we don’t have cold winters to knock back the insect population, and we have flying cockroaches of a size only seen in most mainlanders’ nightmares, colloquially known as B-52s.

You can sprinkle borax along all your walls, and put out Hoy Hoy traps regularly, but they *will* get into your house, and on a still and muggy night lovelorn roaches will take to the air.

We also have centipedes (mostly outside, thank goodness) in our insect arsenal, and of course termites are responsible for a great deal of property damage. And we have the usual rodent suspects. And while I wouldn’t personally class them as vermin (because they eat termites and other bugs), geckos are a constant presence in Hawaii homes.

What unusual vermin does your area have? And, do you have any vermin-fighting tips?

Dress up for kids

by L

I thought we could talk about dress-up clothes and behavior for kids (since it is on my mind). How many Totebaggers’ kids have been in weddings? How old were they? From where were their outfits sourced? What would you consider “too much” to spend on a flower girl or junior bridesmaid dress? Or a navy blazer for boys? Do you let your kids run wild at weddings and/or get their fancy clothes filthy?

The last time one of my kids was in a wedding was when #1 was 2, and I borrowed a dress for her that time and had to walk with her down the aisle. Now all 3 of ours will be in our nanny’s wedding next year, so I will have to buy all their outfits.

Pets!

by laurafrombaltimore

What pets do you have? What do you like best about them? What drives you nuts?

I’ve recently posted about fostering kittens, and about how in the process I was adopted by a rescue cat who was missing a leg (thanks to some pitiful excuse for a human being who thought it would be fun to shoot her). We have now taken “Shelly”* home, and here are the first pictures of her making herself at home in the kids’ dump zone. She is sort of ridiculously sweet and friendly given what she went through.

*”Shelly” is what the shelter named her. Please give us some better ideas, we’re running low on creativity.

8/15/17 UPDATE:  SECOND PHOTO ADDED

 

Can Money Buy Happiness After All?

by Honolulu Mother

The Washington Post found a recent study so interesting that they reported on it twice:

Yes, you can buy happiness – if you spend it to save time

One surprising way money can buy happiness, according to scientists

In the study, people were given $40 and told to spend it on some fun item, and then given $40 again the next week and told to spend it on something to save them time. They reported greater happiness from the purchase than the fun-item group. The study concluded that you can buy more happiness from spending on anything from take-out to a yard service or weekly cleaners than from spending the same amount on material things.

We may be in the Totebag minority in not having a cleaning service or yard service, and we also go pretty light on the dining out or takeout. My first reaction was to wonder if my household is missing a good thing here. My second reaction was to wonder if the study had really accounted for hedonic adaptation, i.e. the idea that if you normally take care of some task yourself but one time you have someone else do it for you, it feels *great*, but if you always outsource it, that just feels normal. For example, when I get back from a vacation I always have a few days of adjustment to the idea that no, really, we do have to provision and prepare all the meals and yes, we really do have to go back to work. Then I settle back in and the routine feels normal again.

So what does the Totebag think? Is outsourcing pesky tasks really a surer route to happiness than saving for a family vacation or other goals? Or is this study missing a distinction between outsourcing something as an occasional treat versus routinely?

Open thread

We have an open thread today all day.

Here’s a topic on my mind.

How to Pack a Suitcase

Many of you will be pleased that packing cubes are recommended.  Right now I’m looking for a more efficient toiletry bag, one that hangs on a hotel door hook..

In shopping for a rolling bag recently I noticed that four wheels (spinners) seem more popular than two wheels.  I prefer two wheels because it’s slightly more compact and I don’t notice the extra ease of a four-wheeler.

At what age did your children become mostly responsible for packing their own suitcases?

Cord blood banking

by Finn

In a recent discussion, Ada posted this link:

A stem cell transplant helped beat back a young doctor’s cancer. Now, it’s assaulting his body

It describes someone who had leukemia, and used a stem cell transplant as
part of a treatment regimen, but it is now causing him problems.

This led me to wonder whether he’d not be having these problems if he had
his own stem cells as a source for the transplant.

It also led me to today’s questions:

Have you banked your kids’ cord blood? If not, why not?

The Good Old Days

by Louise

Posters mention now and again their days as children and young adults. I find these a fascinating description of time and place.  Though most of our experiences may be positive, some may not be.

These days pictures and slide shows on Facebook pop up to remind us what happened a couple of years ago.  But prior to that there was just memory, faded pictures and some of you have mentioned home movies.

Describe your good old or bad old days.

What Feature Do You Wish Your Home Had?

by Seattle Soccer Mom

The recent NY Times obit about Frances Gabe, inventor of the self-cleaning house, had me thinking about features I would like in a house. From the NY Times:

Ms. Gabe, a once-celebrated inventor who died in obscurity late last year, was the creator, and long the sole inhabitant, of the world’s only self-cleaning house….

“Housework is a thankless, unending job,” she told The Ottawa Citizen in 1996. “It’s a nerve-twangling bore. Who wants it? Nobody!”…

In each room, Ms. Gabe, tucked safely under an umbrella, could press a button that activated a sprinkler in the ceiling. The first spray sent a mist of sudsy water over walls and floor. A second spray rinsed everything. Jets of warm air blew it all dry. The full cycle took less than an hour.

Runoff escaped through drains in Ms. Gabe’s almost imperceptibly sloping floors. It was channeled outside and straight through her doghouse, where the dog was washed in the bargain.

Frances Gabe, Creator of the Only Self-Cleaning Home, Dies at 101

My dream is for a recirculating shower – clean water while I get clean – then a switch I can flip so the water recirculates (and is reheated) while I stand, guilt-free, under the lovely warm water. What’s your dream feature?

Reading the Fine Print

by Honolulu Mother

I have to admit, I don’t usually read the lengthy terms and conditions that one sometimes needs to click to accept for a software installation or to use an organization’s wifi. So I would have been one of the (great majority of) people blithely agreeing to manually unclog sewer pipes or paint snail shells here:

22,000 People Agreed to Clean Toilets by Logging on to Wi-Fi

For waivers for things like horseback riding or ziplining, I’ll at least skim through to make sure nothing looks out of place. But I’m not reading those particularly closely either — yes, I know there are risks, and it’s not like the terms are open to negotiation.

Are others more careful readers of the fine print? Have any other skimmers or skippers been burned by the casual approach?

Totebag AUGUST 2017 30-Day Challenge Kick-off — August 1-4

Today is the first day of the August 2017 Totebag 30-Day Challenge.

All participants will choose their personalized activity.  Use the comments to let us know if you are participating and what activity/goal you have selected.  During the week you can check in with your progress.

Next month we will have a new 30-day challenge.  Maybe we’ll make it a regular thing.

(We also have a regular post today so don’t miss it.)

Let’s go! Good luck to all of us!

Guilty pleasures

by July

What’s your latest guilty pleasure?

Martha Stewart sounds a bit totebaggy.

“My guilty pleasure is not at all interesting: It’s a spoon of really good organic peanut butter, or a slice of American cheese from my housekeeper’s drawer. I steal American slices sometimes — in the plastic, it’s so horrible. But it’s such a good snack. I eat pickled herring as a late-night snack before I go to bed because it’s savory and good. I like liverwurst, and I know how bad it is now. I love squeezing it out of the tube and just eating calves’ liverwurst.” – Town & Country, June 2017

Some of you may relate to some of the guilty pleasures confessed by these women, including trashy TV, reading all the time, and property (?).

25 Famous Women on Their Guilty Pleasures

Since I follow some celebrities and other people with fabulous lifestyles on Instagram, I can relate to this one.

“Following Justin Bieber on Instagram.” – The Guardian, July 2016

2017 30-DAY CHALLENGE INTRODUCTION

by July

A few people expressed interest in a new 30-day challenge, similar to the one we did last year.  Here are a some activities, suggested from last year and from other sources.

  • Do It Now (Take care of a small chore each day.  Examples might include changing a closet light bulb, cleaning out your refrigerator door shelves, or doing a Goodwill run.)
  • Planks
  • 10,000 Steps or other walking/running
  • Exercise
  • Reading
  • Decluttering, including the 30-Day Minimalism Game where you start off getting rid of one thing the first day and then keep increasing each day until on the last day you get rid of 30 things.  (Tricky!)

We don’t all have to select the same activity.

Respond in the comments if you’d like to participate and with any other suggestions.   We can start on August 1 or another time.  We can even make it a two-month interval (August and September) and let participants choose their most convenient 30 days.  Share your thoughts.

College majors, career paths, and salaries

by July

Students’ career paths after college are often surprising and difficult to predict given students’ majors. Not only do students from the same major transition into a surprising variety of occupations, they also earn very different incomes: to take one example, the 3.4 percent of English majors who become managers earn a median salary of $77,000, while the 8.3 percent of their counterparts who become elementary and middle school teachers earn $51,000. Different career paths and the associated earnings differences for students with the same college major are pervasive and important for understanding both the benefits of college majors and of college itself.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, we have calculated annual median earnings for men and women of various ages who have graduated with a particular major and entered a given occupation. For each group of college graduates, we show the most common types of jobs, as well as the fractions of graduates who are unemployed, out of the labor force, and employed full- or part-time. In addition, among each group of workers with a particular major, we show the range of annual earnings and the percent who obtained education beyond a bachelor’s degree for the most common types of jobs. This interactive is intended to be a resource for those who seek a better understanding of how their college major can be used, as well as those interested in how college specialization and the labor market interact.

You can play with the interactive charts at The Hamilton Project.  Unfortunately these charts don’t take into account one of our favorite topics, college selectivity.

Companies moving back downtown?

by MooshiMooshi

Are companies really moving back downtown?

The Washington Post is reporting that after years of corporate headquarters moving to the suburbs, the reverse is now happening.

As companies relocate to big cities, suburban towns are left scrambling

And of course, this means that opportunities for well paid jobs become even more concentrated in an handful of big cities.

I think there is another interesting quote, somewhat buried in the article.

… Years ago, IT operations were an afterthought. Now, people with such expertise are driving top-level corporate decisions, and many of them prefer urban locales.

“It used to be the IT division was in a back office somewhere,” Emanuel said. “The IT division and software, computer and data mining, et cetera, is now next to the CEO. Otherwise, that company is gone.

Perhaps this is why the current tech bubble feels less bubbley to me.
Do you notice either of these trends?

What Weird Food Do You Order Online?

by Honolulu Mother

This NYMag article, and the one on cult condiments linked at the bottom, made me think of the various oddball food items I get from Amazon.

I Only Want to Cook With Things in Tubes

We buy the little tubes of hollandaise and bearnaise sauce (the Christian Poitier stuff — it’s pretty good!), curry pastes, sausage casings, fancy maraschino cherries from Tillen Farms, all of them things that if found locally at all will be pricey specialty items.

I’ve also been known to order Irish-style bangers and white and black puddings from some outfit in NJ. And I have to admit, I’m very tempted by a place in Maine that does smoked haddock, if I can ever talk myself into paying the shipping. (It was that year I spent in Ireland way back when that formed these particular tastes.)

What foods do others order online? Any that you’d recommend generally?

Babies born with opioid addiction

by L

Caring for babies born with opioid addiction – what are Totebaggers’ thoughts? What policies would help? What do you think about this mother’s chances of gaining custody? How about her naming choices?

A tide of opioid-dependent newborns forces doctors to rethink treatment

Also:

When the Mother of an Opioid-Dependent Newborn Hears, ‘You Can’t Have Your Baby’

Fashion pet peeves

by July

One of my pet peeves, men wearing shirts with long shirt tails hanging outside their pants, came up in a recent post from Ann Althouse.

Untuckit is a profitable new business that sells a men’s “shirt with a shorter hem that is designed to be worn to be untucked”.  It’s a neater alternative to longer, sloppier shirt tails and is marketed as suitable for casual work dress.

Additionally, the tucked-in t-shirt is now in style.

What do you think, tucked or untucked?  Do you have any fashion pet peeves?  What’s a look, for men or women, that you cannot abide?

Open thread

We have an open thread all day today.

Last week I started a 30-day challenge to improve my balance.  I selected some daily exercises, including standing on one leg and  a One-Legged Squat Reach.  But the one-legged squat proved too challenging (especially for my left leg), so instead I bought a Wobble Balance Board and am trying out a few basic exercises with it.

Last year I was successful with my 30-day plank challenge so I have high hopes for this balance project.  If anyone wants to do a group 30-day challenge similar to the one we did last year let me know and I can set it up.  In the meantime I’ll post periodic updates on my progress.

Taking down David Brooks

by MooshiMooshi

I usually try to tour the conservative websites each week to see what is being discussed (except for WSJ because of its paywall and Breitbart because it is just too icky). While I think there are better sites than RedState – it reminds me of Huffington Post with its generally breathless tone and overheated headlines – but sometimes they really get it and this takedown of the obnoxious David Brooks column really hit the nail on the head. It is hilarious. I find myself agreeing with much of it (ok, ok, not the school choice point which I think will lead to more stratification, not less, and in fact Stella Artois is a working class beer, in France anyway). After reading David Brooks smarmy column:

How We Are Ruining America

read read the RedState takedown and giggle.

David Brooks And The DOA Column: A RedState Autopsy

Americans Wary of Being Alone with Opposite Sex

by Seattle Soccer Mom

From a poll conducted on behalf of the NY Times:

  • 25% think private work meetings with colleagues of the opposite sex are inappropriate.
  • 30-40% say it’s inappropriate to be in a car with someone of the opposite sex.
  • Nearly two-thirds say people should take extra caution around members of the opposite sex at work.
  • A majority of women, and nearly half of men, say it’s unacceptable to have dinner or drinks alone with someone of the opposite sex other than their spouse.

These findings surprised me. I supervise both men and women and have weekly meetings (one on one) with the people I supervise. My office door is generally open unless we’re doing a performance review or discussing sensitive information. I wouldn’t be able to do my job if I couldn’t meet with men. I was surprised that 25% of the people in the poll said this would be inappropriate. I’ve also been in cars with men when we’ve gone to off-site meetings – not a big deal. I was surprised that so many people thought this would be inappropriate.

Totebaggers – what do you think of the poll results? Any that you agree or disagree with? Here’s a link to the article:

It’s Not Just Mike Pence. Americans Are Wary of Being Alone With the Opposite Sex.

Are you afraid of wiping out your savings?

by Lauren

There are very few financial decisions that I disagree with my husband about, but we don’t agree on whether we need long-term care insurance. I read this article and reminded him about my concerns about certain illnesses that can wipe out even large amounts of savings. I’ve seen this with some of my friends with parents or grandparents that lived for many years after a stroke, or even my grandmother that survived 9 years after she exhausted her savings at the age of 90.

Do you have concerns about this situation?

Open thread

by July

Open thread today all day.  To start off, here’s a question for you.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done for love?

That question comes from this Q&A a Day: 5-Year Journal.

The Q&A a Day Journal shows you what was going through your head each day—for five years of your life. Simply turn to today’s date, answer the question at the top of the page, and when you finish the journal, start over. As you return to the daily questions again over the years, you’ll notice how your answers change, or don’t!

So, what’t the craziest thing you’ve done for love?  Did it work out well?

What do you think of this journal or other ones that allow the writer to jot down short entries?  Do you keep a journal or sometimes wish you did?

Amazon Prime Day and more

by July

Are you looking for deals on Amazon Prime Day?

Though Prime Day is technically Tuesday, July 11, this year, it officially begins at 9 p.m. ET on Monday, July 10.

Let’s share Prime Day deals in the comments to this post today and tomorrow.  Also share good buys from other retailers and post your consumer questions.

ALSO:  Send in post topics because otherwise we’ll be seeing lots of open threads.

2017 Politics open thread, July 9-15

What political comments do you have this week?

This video shows world leaders preparing for their group photo.  I like seeing their facial expressions, especially Putin’s.  Do you think Merkel wears bright colors on purpose so she’ll stand out?

Emmanuel Macron jostles his way to the front of G20 photo to stand by Donald Trump

If you want to read commentary on the “fake news” about this video you can check out Ann Althouse’s blog.

The three P’s of perseverance

by July

… The seeds of resilience are planted in the way we process the negative events in our lives.

Sheryl Sandberg’s latest book is about building resilience.  Have you heard of the “three P’s”?

… After spending decades studying how people deal with setbacks, psychologist Martin Seligman found that there are three Ps — personalization, pervasiveness, and permanence — that are critical to how we bounce back from hardship,” Sandberg said. …

Here are more details.

Sheryl Sandberg spoke about her husband’s death in public for the first time in an emotional speech

Resilience is a critical life skill.  Some people seem to possess an abundance of resilience, but how much of it is is nurture and how much nature?  In other words, how much can be taught?  Do you think teaching about the three P’s can help?  Looking around you at relatives, friends, colleagues, and others, do you understand why some are more resilient than others?  Or is it mostly a mystery?  What are your thoughts?

Something else to consider. Are totebaggers as a group highly resilient, or is it more that they have not been severely tested?