International food quiz

by July

How Many Of These Foods From Around The World Have You Actually Tried?
Are your tastes ~international~?

We have so many more international food choices among local restaurants and grocery stores than even a few years ago, even if we don’t live in big cities..  It wasn’t too long ago that the variety of dishes in this article could only be had by traveling outside the United States.

Take the quiz.  What are some of your hits and misses from the list?  Do “international” dishes make up a big part of your regular meals?

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Air Conditioning in Schools

by honolulu mother

My older son pointed me to this paper on Heat and Learning, which as the abstract explains suggests that hot classrooms contribute substantially to difference in academic performances across regions and socioeconomic groups, and that air conditioning classrooms is a solution:
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We provide the first evidence that cumulative heat exposure inhibits cognitive skill development and that school air conditioning can mitigate this effect. Student fixed effects models using 10 million PSAT-takers show that hotter school days in the year prior to the test reduce learning, with extreme heat being particularly damaging and larger effects for low income and minority students. Weekend and summer heat has little impact and the effect is not explained by pollution or local economic shocks, suggesting heat directly reduces the productivity of learning inputs. New data providing the first measures of school-level air conditioning penetration across the US suggest such infrastructure almost entirely offsets these effects. Without air conditioning, each 1° F increase in school year temperature reduces the amount learned that year by one percent. Our estimates imply that the benefits of school air conditioning likely outweigh the costs in most of the US, particularly given future predicted climate change.

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My son fully agrees that non-air-conditioned classrooms impede learning — most classrooms at the high school he recently graduated from, and that his younger siblings still attend, are not air conditioned.  In fact, lack of air conditioning is problem for Hawaii’s public schools generally, and despite efforts to get air conditioning into more classrooms the expense of doing so has limited its spread.
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Have you, or your children, had experience trying to learn in hot classrooms?  Do you agree that it makes it significantly more difficult to learn?  And, do you think air conditioning should be considered an essential part of school infrastructure?

Open Thread

Let’s hope for a calm week on the regular threads.    Not so sure about the political threads.

Wed –  Points and Other Rewards (S&M)

Th –    Air Conditioning in Schools (honolulu mother)

Fri –  International Food Quiz (July)

Mon –  Home Alone – Playing Hooky for Adults (AustinMom)

No More Alcohol, Study Says

by Risley
is a bit of a downer but is consistent with what I was recently told by an oncologist—that they have lowered the “one drink/day” limit for women trying to avoid breast cancer to 3 drinks/week. For ages, we’ve been told a drink/day is better than *not* having a drink/day, so this new guidance was very surprising to me. From the article, it’s clear it’s not only breast cancer that’s an issue. (FWIW, the oncologist also told me 2 drinks/day *doubles* a woman’s risk of breast cancer).
What I wonder is how many Totebaggers will change their habits based on this new guidance.    I’ve been amazed at how many people (including science/medical types) have told me to ignore the 3 drinks/week limit. I’m a rule follower!! (Not for everything, but for something like limiting my risk of breast cancer, I am.)
The broader question is how many sacrifices we are willing to make, and/or how many obligations we are willing to take on, for our health. Prophylactic prescriptions? Avoidance of, or limitations on, of certain foods, beyond the basic “watch caloric and fat intake” and now, for me at least, alcohol?

I thought everybody did that!

by honolulu mother

This article (post?) lists things that various people who grew up wealthy assumed everyone did, only to learn in college or early adulthood that they were not typical.  A couple of them (11 and 13) seem more like signs of being financially secure rather than wealthy as such, but it’s still an interesting list and an amusing thing to think about.

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What things did you think were standard, as a child, only to later learn they were particular to your family or some other particular group?  I’m not limiting this to things reflective of family money — count in the military brats accustomed to PCSing every few years, the small towners accustomed to everyone being fixated on the preferred local sport, the professor kids thinking everyone’s parents have PhDs.

Our [job title] are too educated

by Rhett

What else could we do to increase the efficiency of the educational system?

Or as Dylan said,  20 years of schoolin’ and they put you on the day shift.  (Mémé)

Our doctors are too educated

By Akhilesh Pathipati
August 13
Akhilesh Pathipati is an ophthalmology resident at Harvard University’s Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

I had just finished an eye examination for one of my patients and swiveled around to the computer. It was clear that he needed cataract surgery; he was nearly blind despite his Coke-bottle glasses. But even before I logged in to the scheduling system, I knew what I was going to find: He wouldn’t be able to get an appointment with an ophthalmologist for more than three months. Everyone’s schedule was full.

Moments like these are far too common in medicine. An aging population with numerous health needs and a declining physician workforce have combined to create a physician shortage — the Association of American Medical Colleges projects a shortfall of up to 100,000 doctors by 2030.

Policymakers have proposed many solutions, from telemedicine to increasing the scope of nurse practitioners. But I can think of another: Let students complete school and see patients earlier.

U.S. physicians average 14 years of higher education (four years of college, four years of medical school and three to eight years to specialize in a residency or fellowship). That’s much longer than in other developed countries, where students typically study for 10 years. It also translates to millions of dollars and hours spent by U.S. medical students listening to lectures on topics they already know, doing clinical electives in fields they will not pursue and publishing papers no one will read.

Decreasing the length of training would immediately add thousands of physicians to the workforce. At the same time, it would save money that could be reinvested in creating more positions in medical schools and residencies. It would also allow more students to go into lower-paying fields such as primary care, where the need is greatest.

These changes wouldn’t decrease the quality of our education. Medical education has many inefficiencies, but two opportunities for reform stand out. First, we should consolidate medical school curriculums. The traditional model consists of two years of classroom-based learning on the science of medicine (the preclinical years), followed by two years of clinical rotations, during which we work in hospitals.

Both phases could be shortened. In my experience, close to half of preclinical content was redundant. Between college and medical school, I learned the Krebs cycle (a process that cells use to generate energy) six times. Making college premedical courses more relevant to medicine could condense training considerably.

Meanwhile, the second clinical year is primarily electives and free time. I recently spoke with a friend going into radiology who did a dermatology elective. While he enjoyed learning about rashes, we concluded it did little for his education.

In the past decade, several schools have shown the four-year model can be cut to three. For instance, New York University offers an accelerated medical degree with early, conditional admission into its residency programs. The model remains controversial. Critics contend that three years is not enough time to learn medicine. Yet a review of eight medical schools with three-year programs suggests graduates have similar test scores and clinical performance to those who take more time.

Finally, we can reform required research projects. Research has long been intertwined with medical training. Nearly every medical school offers student projects, and more than one-third require them. Many residencies do as well. Students have responded: The number pursuing nondegree research years doubled between 2000 and 2014, and four-year graduation rates reached a record low. Rather than shortening training, U.S. medical education is becoming longer. The additional years aren’t even spent on patient care.

Done right, this could still be a valuable investment. Intellectual curiosity and inquiry drive scientific progress. But that’s not why most students take research years. I conducted a study showing that less than a quarter do so because of an interest in the subject matter. The most common reason was instead to increase their competitiveness for residency applications.

And because having more research published represents greater achievement in academic medicine, students are presented with a bad incentive to publish a large amount of low-quality research. Many of my peers have recognized this, producing more papers than many faculty members. It’s no surprise that there has been an exponential increase in student publications in the past few decades, even though a majority are never cited.

Medical schools need to realign incentives. This starts with the recognition that students can do valuable work even if it doesn’t end up in a journal. It’s time we get them out of school and in front of patients.Too

Traveling with your adult children

by July

There is nothing like traveling with your adult children to make you feel dazzled and impressed that they are truly all grown up, competent citizens of the world. And there is nothing like traveling with your adult children to remind you that they are still your children and sometimes you need to take care of them.

Is this a trend, as the NYT suggests?  What is your experience, from your perspective as both a parent and as an adult child?  What are your observations?  Pros and cons?

From the kids’ perspective:

How To Have An Adult Vacation With Your Family — Without Losing Your Mind

Open Thread

I have two weeks plus 2 days of posts scheduled, so I need some new ones, especially on everyday subjects.    Thanks to the less frequent post contributors who have been stepping up, including Finn for yesterday.   I will include next Monday in the list from now on, but if events indicate a change I reserve the right to move it.

Wed –  Traveling with Adult Children (July)

Th –  Our [job title] are too educated (Rhett)

Fri –  I thought everybody did that! (honolulu mother)

Next Mon –  New guidance on Alcohol (Risley)

Starter idea for today.   If you were a baseball player, what would you use as a walk up song?   For the sports-challenged among you, here is an example of a walk up song.   NSFW dialogue later in the clip.

The “Price” of Parenthood

by Finn

 

An economic mystery of the last few decades has been why more women aren’t working. A new paper offers one answer: Most plan to, but are increasingly caught off guard by the time and effort it takes to raise children.

The share of women in the United States labor force has leveled off since the 1990s, after steadily climbing for half a century. Today, the share of women age 25 to 54 who work is about the same as it was in 1995, even though in the intervening decades, women have been earning more college degrees than men, entering jobs previously closed to them and delaying marriage and childbirth.

The new analysis suggests something else also began happening during the 1990s: Motherhood became more demanding. Parents now spend more time and money on child care. They feel more pressure to breast-feed, to do enriching activities with their children and to provide close supervision.

The people most surprised by the demands of motherhood were those the researchers least expected: women with college degrees, or those who had babies later, those who had working mothers and those who had assumed they would have careers. Even though highly educated mothers were less likely to quit working than less educated mothers, they were more likely to express anti-work beliefs, and to say that being a parent was harder than they expected.

Though the study did not analyze fathers’ role in depth, it found that their beliefs did not change significantly before and after having a baby. They were less likely than women to say that parenthood was harder than they expected.

 

Totebaggers tend to plan their lives more than most, so parenthood was likely planned by most of us.  Were you caught off guard by the price of parenthood?  Did the actual price of parenthood affect subsequent decisions whether or not to have additional kids?

What’s on your walls?

by Finn

DS just asked my thoughts on renting a framed print from a university museum for $30/semester.
 
Besides being an interesting concept that was never an an option that I knew of during my college years, it got me to wondering: 
How are your walls decorated?  Framed prints?  Family photos?  Commissioned paintings? 

 

School Lunches

by Houston

Here is an article advocating simple, fuss-free lunches that your kids will actually eat.

https://qz.com/quartzy/1370144/back-to-school-why-a-boring-school-lunch-is-just-fine/

Do you agree, or do you and your family like more variety and creativity? Do you pack lunches for your kids and yourself or do you buy lunch? What do you and your kids eat for lunch? Any lunch questions or suggestions?

I rotate between 2-3 sandwiches and 2-3 snacks for DS. This simplicity helps keep my shopping list straight forward. I usually eat leftovers. DH does a mix between sandwiches and leftovers.

Reefer Madness ?

by WCE.   (Title by Mémé)

Marijuana is legal in Oregon. I didn’t vote for legalization for all the reasons described in this article. I was satisfied with “medical marijuana” and didn’t much care about prescriptions to treat depression and irritable bowel syndrome. I don’t think marijuana should be a Schedule 1 (highest risk of abuse, no medical use) substance. How should public policy balance the risks and benefits of relatively low risk recreational substances like alcohol and marijuana? How should the costs of abuse be paid?

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2018/08/americas-invisible-pot-addicts/567886/

The Empty Nest – Plans and Parental Reinvention

by Louise

This week I heard from a far relative who had just gone back to work. Her only son is in high school, she is an engineer who gave up her job once she had her son. I wasn’t expecting her to get a job at nearly fifty years old. On thinking about this I realized that over the years I had heard of women heading back to work once their kids reached the end of high school. They could spend a good ten to fifteen years in the work force.

Some of us on the other hand are looking to cut back or quitting as soon as that last tuition bill is paid. I have always felt my best has yet to come or if put negatively yet to grow up…

How old is too old…?
Too old to get married….to have kids…..to take up a musical instrument…..learn a new sport..
What are your plans for the empty nest years ? Any advice from Totebaggers who are already on this phase ? Do other things tend to occupy your time – elder assistance comes to mind.

 

Labor Day Open Thread

Topics for the Rest of the Week

College and college prep is on everyone’s mind, so I suggest a pre college topic for Education Thursday.    I composed the headline for WCE’s topic (title of a  1930s educational film).    And I can’t estimate the betting odds against a  Friday Fun topic from Finn.

Tu — The Empty Nest (Louise)

Wed  – Reefer Madness (WCE)

Th  –   School Lunches  (Houston)

Fri  –  What’s on your Walls?  (Finn)

Invisible disabilities in the Workplace

by S&M

We often discuss how to navigate the education system for our children with special issues.   As they   move up and out into the big wide world including employment, those “kids” will need to take on the task of negotiation themselves, in a very different environment.

Open Thread and Holiday Schedule

Thanks to Denver Dad for Monday’s topic.

Wed – Invisible disabilities in the Workplace (S&M)

Th – why don’t kids go into the trades? (Denver Dad)

Fri. – 100 Skills Everyone Should Know. (RMS)

No post for Monday, Labor Day.

That is the day I will be sorting through all the recent submissions. The list of repeat contributors is growing.

Teaching girls to stop saying “sorry”

by Denver Dad

My wife found this article about Barbie trying to teach girls to stop
saying sorry when it is not needed.
https://www.today.com/parents/vlog-mattel-s-barbie-addresses-girls-sorry-reflex-t134385?cid=public-rss_201807264385?cid=public-rss_20180726

I’m coaching a 10U softball team and the habit is very noticeable with some
of the girls. They sah sorry almost every time theu miss a ball or such.
What do people recommend to try to help the girls break the habit?

Don’t hire me for this job!

by Rhett

 

I was watching a very good documentary about a women who stole $53 million from the small town of Dixon, IL over 20 years.

https://www.allthequeenshorsesfilm.com/

In the end, they talk to the new comptroller about all the process she had to put in place to make sure it didn’t happen again: dividing up responsibilities, making sure multiple people had to sign off on checks/payments, strict auditing, etc. Which got me thinking, “Wow, I’d be terrible at that job. I tend to trust people and I hate paperwork and process.”

With that in mind, what jobs would you be terrible at?

Do Selective Colleges and Employers discriminate against Introverts?

 

Personality traits and income (Houston).

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-08-09/personality-affects-pay-extroverts-earn-more-than-introverts

How has your personality affected your career choices and income? Do you see a similar or different trend with your spouse?

WaPo article reproduced in full.  (Denver Dad)

Do Harvard and other elite universities illegally discriminate against Asian American applicants?

I’m not sure. But there’s another group of people who definitely face routine prejudice in college admissions. They’re the quiet types who keep to themselves, often preferring a relaxed evening at home to a rowdy night out. They like to study alone, not in groups. And they’re often the last ones to speak up in class.

I’m talking about introverts, of course. And if there’s one thing we’ve learned from reports on the recent lawsuit against Harvard University’s admission system, it’s that introverts routinely get the short end of the stick.

The lawsuit alleges that Harvard has engaged in unlawful “racial balancing” by systematically discriminating against Asian Americans, who were given lower “personality” scores by admission officers. It’s a hard charge to prove. If an Asian applicant received a lower personality score, how can we know if that’s because she was Asian?

We can’t, without evidence. But here’s what seems apparent: Harvard’s “personality” evaluation favors people who are outgoing, gregarious and comfortable in the spotlight: in a word, extroverts.

Consider this example, which the New York Times drew from the hundreds of documents that have been filed in the Harvard lawsuit. An Asian American applicant was described as a “hard worker,” but “would she relax and have any fun?”

Other Asian American candidates were characterized the same way — industrious and high-achieving but often lacking in “distinguishing excellence” (or “DE” in admissions shorthand). Nor were they likely to be seen as “leaders,” the figures who stand out from the crowd by standing in front of it.

And that’s what our elite schools are looking for, unabashedly and unapologetically. When Harvard says it wants people with a “positive personality” who are “widely respected” — two other criteria the Times extracted from the court filings — it’s not talking about the kid who will stay in her dorm room on Saturday night to study or watch a video. Introverts aren’t always shy — sometimes they can be quite chatty — but they also need time alone.

And they definitely don’t need to be the center of attention, which makes them markedly less attractive to admissions committees. Colleges want the applicants who will take the bull by the horns and the campus by storm! That means joining as many groups as possible and ideally being the president of each one. And it means participating in — maybe dominating — every available conversation, in and out of class.

That would be defensible if we knew that extroverts were more intelligent or successful than other people. But they’re not. As Susan Cain shows in her indispensable 2012 book, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” extroverts have us snowed. We perceive people who talk a lot — and, especially, those who talk quickly — as more able. And there’s zero evidence for that.

Ditto for the presumption that they make better leaders. As Cain shows, there are plenty of introverts — including Bill Gates and Charles Schwab — who have become famously effective leaders. They govern by example rather than charisma, by listening rather than talking.

Going back to the 1950s, some colleges have argued that the corporations that hire graduates — and that also donate millions to the colleges — preferred the “gregarious, active type,” as one dean told sociologist William Whyte, author of the 1956 classic “The Organization Man.” The dean added: “We see little use for the ‘brilliant’ introvert.”

That’s still generally the case at our selective universities, as recent research on admissions suggests. Never mind that not all of our students intend to enter the corporate world, or that a wealth of research demonstrates that introverts can flourish in that world as much as extroverts can. We want “strong” personalities, who make their mark in public performance rather than behind the scenes.

And we’re sticking with that story, despite evidence that Asians are less likely to display these traits than Westerners are. Cross-cultural studies have demonstrated that people in the East tend to emphasize traits such as humility and hard work, while Americans more often favor cheerfulness and enthusiasm.

So do our admissions policies. I don’t know if that makes them racially discriminatory. But I do know that they’re scientifically indefensible, especially in light of everything we have learned about personality over the past half-century.

This week, the rest of the Ivy League — including my employer, the University of Pennsylvania — closed ranks behind Harvard, defending the use of race in college admissions and emphasizing “the profound importance of a diverse student body for their educational missions,” as the schools wrote in a friend-of-the-court brief. I agree with them. I just wish they were friendly to diverse personalities, not just diverse races. Without that, we’ll end up with students who look different from each other but think and act the same.

 

Real Estate

by Louise

We haven’t discussed real estate in a long time. I have been watching very escapist fare namely Escape to the Continent on Netflix.
I am interested in what buyers want in a house and the compromises they have to make. Of course, the series features beautiful locations in Europe.
Any real estate transactions closer to home ? Any real estate shows worth watching ? How about growth and prices in your area ?
https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/markets/as-nashville-rapidly-expands-residents-worry-the-metropolis-is-growing-too-fast/ar-AAyNMFr?li=BBnbfcN&srcref=rss

Open Thread

Thanks for all the submissions, including Monday’s post from RMS

Wed –  Real Estate (Louise)

Th –  Introverts – College Admission/Income/Employment  (Houston, Denver Dad)

Fri –  Don’t Ever Hire me for this Job!  (Rhett)

What “alternative therapies” have you found most effective for your own illnesses and ailments?

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

Many of the insurance-covered treatments don’t work for back pain, but the non-insurance-covered treatments do, at least to some extent. Yoga, tai chi, massage, etc., are more effective than surgery and opioids. As a decades-long back pain sufferer, I have found that massage and yoga go a very long way towards keeping my lower back pain in check.

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/8/4/15929484/chronic-back-pain-treatment-mainstream-vs-alternative

Politics Open Thread, Aug 19-25

suggested by NoB, who said

the author’s (Colin Woodard’s) book “American Nations” went a long way toward helping me understand other parts of the US.

It is much better to click through to the full NYT article  because there are detailed maps with text that I can’t paste here.

from NYT

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the most significant and abiding divide in American politics isn’t between city and countryside, but rather among regional cultures. Rural and urban places certainly have distinct interests and priorities, but in our awkward federation their differences have taken a back seat to the broader struggle between our constituent regions.

Sectionalism isn’t, and never has been, as simple as North versus South or an effete and domineering East against a rugged, freedom-minded West. Rather, our true regional fissures can be traced back to the contrasting ideals of the distinct European colonial cultures that first took root on the eastern and southern rims of what is now the United States, and then spread across much of the continent in mutually exclusive settlement bands, laying down the institutions, symbols and cultural norms later arrivals would encounter and, by and large, assimilate into.

Understanding this is essential to comprehending our political reality or developing strategies to change it — especially as we approach a momentously consequential midterm election.

 

Tracing our history, I’ve identified 11 nations, most corresponding to one of the rival European colonial projects and their respective settlement zones. I call them Yankeedom; New Netherland; the Midlands; Tidewater; Greater Appalachia; Deep South; El Norte; the Left Coast; the Far West; New France; and First Nation. These were the dominant cultures that Native Americans, African-Americans, immigrants and other vital actors in our national story confronted; each had its own ideals, assumptions and intents.

 

Look at county-level maps of almost any closely contested presidential race in our history, and you see much the same fault lines: the swaths of the country first colonized by the early Puritans and their descendants — Yankeedom — tend to vote as one, and against the party in favor in the sections first colonized by the culture laid down by the Barbados slave lords who founded Charleston, S.C., or the Scots-Irish frontiersmen who swept down the Appalachian highlands and on into the Hill Country of Texas, Oklahoma and the southern tiers of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri.

The Quaker-founded Midlands, the swing region of American politics that makes up a great swath of the heartland, has often been the physical and political buffer between rival regional coalitions, its pluralistic, community-oriented culture at peace neither with the Yankee’s utopian drive to engineer social improvements nor Southern culture’s emphasis on individual freedom above all else. It played the kingmaker’s role again in 2016.

Pundits speak of the “solid South,” but Yankeedom has had stalwart allies as well. The people of the slender Pacific coastal plain from San Francisco to Juneau, Alaska, have backed the same horse as the Yankees in virtually every contest since their states joined the union, and in opposition to the candidate favored by the majority of people in the interiors of their own states. Yankees have long found partners in the Dutch-founded zone in and around New York City and, in recent decades, the sections of the Southwest that were effectively colonized by Spain in the 16th to 19th centuries.

The cultural differences between these regional cultures have a greater effect on our politics than the size and density of our communities. I ran the numbers for the past three presidential elections, comparing the voting behaviors of rural and urban counties within each “nation.” In five regional cultures that together constitute about 51 percent of the United States population, rural and urban counties voted for the same presidential candidate, be it the “blue wave” election of 2008, the Trumpist upheaval of 2016 or the more ambiguous contest in between. In the Deep South, Greater Appalachia, New France and the Far West, rural and urban majorities supported Republican candidates in all three elections, whether voters lived in central cities, wealthy suburbs, mountain hollers or the ranches of the high plains. In El Norte, the Spanish-colonized parts of the Southwest, both types of counties — empty desert or booming cityscapes — voted Democratic.

Recipe Swap, Harvest Edition

by Honolulu Mother

We haven’t had a recipe swap post for a while!  Since it’s late summer and most of you are experiencing a seasonal bounty of produce, let’s focus this one on ways to use up all of those gorgeous fruits and vegetables — what are your favorite recipes for zucchini, basil, corn, other produce?  All recipes are eligible, though, you’re welcome to post your hearty winter fare or pantry-based staples too.

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I’ll start us off by sharing one that’s primarily pantry-based, though it does use some fresh basil.  And it’s a worknight quickie for the Instant Pot!
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Penne Alla Vodka for Instant Pot
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(adapted from Instant Pot Italian by Ivy Manning)
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2 TBSP unsalted butter
3 medium garlic cloves, sliced or squeezed through a press
2 TBSP tomato paste
1 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes (or diced)
1/4 cup vodka
16 oz dry (uncooked) penne
pinch of red chile flakes (optional)
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup or more fresh basil leaves, torn in small pieces
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Put the butter in the pot, select saute, and adjust to normal / medium heat.  When the butter has melted, add the garlic and cook till fragrant, 45 seconds.  Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until it begins to brown, 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes and vodka and simmer for 1 minute to boil off some of the alcohol.  Press cancel.
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Add the rigatoni, red chile flakes (if using), 3 1/4 cups cold water, 1 teaspoon salt, and several grinds of black pepper.  Lock on the lid, select the pressure cook function, and adjust to low pressure for 6 minutes.  Make sure the steam valve is in the “Sealing” position and that the “Keep Warm” button is off.
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When the cooking time is up, quick-release the pressure.  Remove the lid.  Add the cream and stir to combine.  Let the pasta stand in the pot, uncovered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow the sauce to thicken.  Stir the cheese and basil into the pasta and season with salt and black pepper if needed.

Life changing tech at school and work

by S&M

We often discuss our favorite new gadgets.    But let’s look at the ways you can use technology or even mechanical improvements  to change your life, not just how to be lazy about the light switch.     An example might be kids and adults with anxiety or other quirks/disabilities who need to be able to wear earbuds with soft music to get them through their work/school days.     Or the use of word processing software for children for whom handwriting is a barrier to completion of assignments.     Not to speak of medical conditions that can be ameliorated by improvements.

How have electronics & other tech developments changed the way you or your loved ones live?

What would you do if the [Stuff] really hit the fan?

suggested by Rhett and others.

Milo wrote:

We would need to address different tiers of hitting the fan.

Off the top of my head, in loosely increasing order of severity:
1) 90% crash in stock market
2) 50% nationwide unemployment
3) exponential inflation of the dollar (taking wheelbarrows of cash to buy a loaf of bread)
4) major war on our soil/Red Dawn
5) total breakdown of civil law/roving marauders and bandits
6)  outbreak of deadly pathogen or disease

I originally was going to post this a Friday fun topic, but Totebaggers are known for contingency planning, and I have considered all of the above at one time or another.  I would rank them a bit differently than Milo, since I actually expect number 6 to happen with a rapid 25% reduction in world population, possibly within my lifetime.

 

Open Thread

Thanks to L for Monday’s post.    And there are many  new submissions while I was traveling,  so the queue will fill up soon.

Wed –   What would you do if the [stuff] hits the fan? (Rhett et alii)

Th   –  Life changing tech for school/work (S&M)

Fri  –   Recipe Swap, Harvest Edition (honolulu mother)

Sleeping during a performance

by Honolulu mother

This Washington Post article raises the question:

Why pay $100 and more for a theater ticket if you sleep during the performance?

The author sets the scene:

The esteemed Manhattan theater in which I spent several hours on a recent Saturday night might as well have been a dormitory. Up and down the rows and aisles, people could be seen in various states of drowsy repose. A woman in the row ahead of mine had her head thrust all the way back, as if she were paying the audience member behind her to shampoo her hair. A younger man at the opposite end of the row behind me was fighting to stay awake, his droopy head snapping back to upright each time his eyelids became heavy. The woman next to me slept through the entire first act. She opted not to return for the second.

He goes on to raise the question of whether, apart from being an expensive way to take a nap, sleeping at the theater is also a disservice to the performers themselves:

Do people attending plays and musicals have a moral obligation to the performers to try to stay awake? Would earlier curtain times offer some mitigation of crowd fatigue? I recently talked about the impact of audience snoozing with a highly regarded director of contemporary and classical plays, and what he told me shed light on how even one sleeper can take the air out of a performance. Sometimes, he said, actors can lose their edge at the sight of dozing spectators. (Many times, I’ve seen people in seats in the front row hunched over in slumber.) When the actors exit the stage, the idea can be conveyed to other members of the cast waiting to go on that, well, tonight is just not a good house. And being human, the cast, the director said, might perceptibly deflate, maybe even pull back a tad on the reins of their performances.  

However, he never really gets to the question that immediately occured to me:  Just how sleep-deprived are we all?!  Snoozing through a powerpoint is fodder for jokes, and powerpoints are, well, soporific, but you have to be genuinely tired to sleep through the dramatic climax of an opera.  The second question that occurred to me was, of course, is this a business opportunity?  I can purchase old theaters, install comfy chairs, and instead of paying all that money to screen first run films, I’ll simply turn the lights down and run a soundtrack of relaxing massage music for two hours!
Do you fall asleep during performances or movie screenings?  If so, does it bother you?  And do you think theaters can or should do anything to help patrons stay awake?
For the Friday Fun aspect, Mémé adds a link to a favorite Everly Bros song about falling asleep at the movies.

Corporations and Social Change

by Louise

Here is an article (behind paywall, but there are numerous others on the same topic for free – M.) about Starbucks. It has to walk the line between negative publicity when it asks guests to leave (or calls law enforcement on them) or lets them stay even if they don’t buy anything.

The other corporation in the news is Amazon, with the question of affordability in whichever city it chooses as HQ2.

What do you think about corporations and social change, especially in the age of social media where an immediate response is required. What about long term impacts in cases like Amazon. Do they owe the cities they operate in, anything more than their success or should they try to do more as corporate citizens ?

https://www.wsj.com/articles/starbucks-says-drug-use-sleeping-unacceptable-as-it-clarifies-guest-policy-1526918854

Open Thread

Admin coverage will be spotty this week.    If your comment appears to get hung up in moderation or spam, please try again with the Lark/Lemon extended handle method.    The three dots don’t always work.

Thanks to Swampy for Monday’s topic.

Rest of the week:

Wed-   Corporations and Social Change (Louise)

Th  –    Student Loans and Career  (WCE)

Fri –    Sleeping at the Theater  (HM)

Politics Open Thread, Aug 5-11

starter from WCE

Interesting article on a location-focused tax benefit to help disadvantaged areas like Fresno, California. Economists quoted seem to agree it will likely help disadvantaged areas, but not the MOST disadvantaged areas, but disagree over whether not helping the MOST disadvantaged areas is acceptable policy.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/07/how-do-we-help-this-place/565862/

What did you love about History Class?

by Houston

Controversy! History! AP! Multiculturalism!

What do you think about the new changes to AP History outlined in the article below? How were history classes taught when you were young? What changes do you suggest be made?

History is one of my favorite subjects and I still enjoy reading about it. My favorite topic is ancient (i.e. Roman, Greek) military history. What is your favorite topic in history? Why?

https://www.economist.com/democracy-in-america/2018/06/15/teachers-protest-against-changes-to-a-high-school-history-courseHis

Productivity and Scheduling

by Houston

Let’s talk about productivity. Please share your tips on maximizing productivity and minimizing distractions. Are you most productive in the morning? In the evening? Are you a list-maker? Do you use a timer?

I have the problem outlined in the article, and am now trying to schedule more back to back meetings or errands to increase my productivity.

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/06/people-are-bad-at-being-productive-in-a-limited-time/562745/

And from L

Have you used any of these productivity tips when your output was lagging? What other strategies would you suggest?

https://www.nytimes.com/guides/business/how-to-improve-your-productivity-at-work

 

Open Thread / Gone Fishin’

Mémé is traveling for two weeks.   I will check in late evenings and mornings, but only from handheld devices. A flurry of new submissions, thanks especially to the first timers, caused postponement  of a few previously scheduled posts.

I suggest that travelers post in two places.   Once to the daily page and once to the permanent Travel page.     Or post for the record with lots of detail  to the travel page and  select some excepts as highlight/lowlight for the daily page.     The water cooler factor of the daily back and forth seems to be the preferred and more effective interaction method for most readers.

Thanks to Dell for Monday’s post.

Rest of the week

Wed –   Productivity and Scheduling  (Houston, L)

Th –      What did you like about History Class?   (Houston)

Fri –     True Crime Favorites  (Rhett)

Are the Humanities essential to a University?

Is it not only  unnecessary but wrong to try to justify Humanities degrees as having any practical or job related application at all?

 

by Houston

This is interesting to me, as none of my family members studied humanities in college, except me (including aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, husband’s family….). Neither of my kids is interested in humanities. Humanities are giving way to STEM and STEAM in K-12. Kids are encouraged to code, and not necessarily to read, as they grown older. Can we save the liberal arts degree?

https://www.chronicle.com/article/Stop-Trying-to-Sell-the/243643?key=m1JvRRyygNd0EHj5AaFoO0ti00iCHCUA2K5ZxC8dMYxDxHtupVA2vVdwCkhaYR63dmtqcHlDbzFCVllkSGhIczZsMXBNMGRlUVpJWFdFUjRSR1cxNS01VnN2SQ

Open Thread

This week I would like to give a shout-out to our most consistent and prolific topic contributors, in no particular order.

Louise, L, Houston, Honolulu mother, S&M, WCE, Rhett.    There are a number of others who send something in every other month or so.   Thanks to all of you as well.   The objective is to increase the number of participants in the latter group (like alumni giving statistics-by-class, no amount is too small/ no topic too trivial).     Controversial topics are welcome, but will likely be posted to the Politics page.

From now on I am going to insert the post authors on this list, with mention of the Monday post author.   (S&M sent in the topics for yesterday and next Monday)

Rest of the week:

Wed –   What is your work environment?  (mash up L and Louise)

Th –  Humanities in the University  (Houston)

Fri –  Dry Cleaning and Alternatives (HM)

Setting Personal Boundaries

Text taken/modified from a seminar description sent in by S&M

Did anyone directly teach you about boundaries?
No? Me neither. Don’t you wish someone had?
Most of us fumble through, making mistakes over and over before we hopefully learn from them. Much of that can be avoided though, with a little bit of clarity.
Here’s one of the biggest mistakes people make:
They confuse “I can’t take it anymore” with their Boundary. These are not the same thing! Your boundary is crossed much earlier.
We’ve become so good at delayed gratification. It seems like if we can just tolerate an uncomfortable situation a little longer, it might resolve without any drama.
Then the tension mounts.  By the time we take action, it’s not calm and measured…but it could have been! We missed the opportunity. We could have handled it well, if we’d been more attuned to our boundaries and taken action sooner.
What are some of  your boundaries and what do they feel like?
Our teenaged children’s ability to experiment safely depends on them feeling and defending their boundaries, especially in social and/or intimate situations.   How can we help them to identify their boundaries and assert them in time?

How do you like to waste time?

by Houston

What are your favorite ways of relaxing or taking a break (i.e. wasting time)? Please don’t mention the Totebag–We are not wasting time! We are…..having productive conversations with like minded people. Very edifying!

https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/surf-internet-websites

I have two favorites: Watching make up reviews on You Tube, and playing Solitaire (I’m old school that way) Please share your favorites–maybe I can waste even more time!

Legacy admissions vs diversity

by Fred  (WSJ article in full)   Please use to kick off Education Thursday

As Harvard, Notre Dame, Georgetown and others pledge to increase diversity, admitting the children of alumni at higher rates complicates their efforts

Top colleges have pledged to become more socioeconomically diverse, but the admissions edge many give to children of alumni may make that goal harder to achieve.

At the University of Notre Dame, the University of Virginia and Georgetown University, the admission rate for legacies is about double the rate for the overall applicant pool, according to data from the schools. At Princeton University, legacies are admitted at four times the general rate, or roughly 30% compared with about 7% overall over the past five years, the school says.

Legacy applicants at Harvard University were five times as likely to be admitted as non-legacies, according to an analysis of admissions data from 2010 through 2015. The numbers—33.6% for legacies and 5.9% for those without parental ties—were submitted in a June court filingfor a case claiming Asian students are being discriminated against in the name of greater diversity at the school.

All of those schools have signed on to or plan to join the American Talent Initiative, a Bloomberg Philanthropies-backed effort to enroll 50,000 more low- and moderate-income students by 2025.

Concerns over the legacy advantage reflect broader unease about competing priorities in admissions. Diversity initiatives have led to complaints by white students that minority students have a leg up. Meanwhile, highly qualified Asian students say they should get more slots based on academics. Both say long-standing traditions like legacy admissions soak up coveted spots.

Advocates for considering legacy status argue that favoring the children—and, in some cases, grandchildren—of graduates helps maintain an engaged and generous alumni base and lets students serve as ambassadors to new campus arrivals.

Cornell University President Martha E. Pollack has said legacy admissions help perpetuate “a Cornell family that goes on for generations.” In an interview with the student newspaper in May, she said the practice isn’t about giving preference or an advantage to legacies, but such a designation is one of many “balancing factors.”

Critics say giving legacy applicants any preferential treatment undermines diversity initiatives, especially for schools that aren’t growing.

“I really don’t see how our best universities can continue to justify this practice,” said William Dudley, Federal Reserve Bank of New York president, in an October speech. “Such an approach only preserves the status quo and constrains economic mobility.”

A handful of elite schools, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and California Institute of Technology, don’t consider legacy status in admissions.

A coalition of groups focused on supporting first-generation college students circulated a letter in February calling for a dozen schools, including Brown University, Duke University, Swarthmore College and Emory University, to review their legacy admission policies.

“Anything that’s unpopular, has a discriminatory history and doesn’t have the data to back it up, deserves a second look,” said Shawn Young, a public policy major who has coordinated the campaign at Brown.

Legacy preferences, which historians say were originally developed to keep Jewish students from prestigious colleges in the early 1900s, generally benefit applicants who are wealthy and white, as they reflect the student body from a generation earlier.

Calling legacy admissions a “classist, racist institution,” Brookings Institution senior fellow Richard Reeves said, “There is an inescapable hypocrisy of an institution saying, ‘We are going to be open and meritocratic,’ and maintaining a hereditary privilege.”

Schools say it is a false choice, and they can give consideration to legacy status while increasing a class’s racial and economic diversity. Legacies made up roughly 5% of the applicant pool and 15% of this fall’s entering class at the University of Virginia. The school also says it has near-record-high numbers of minorities and first-generation college students, at 34% and 11%, respectively.

“We need to keep doing a better job of finding high-ability, low-income students to apply,” said Don Bishop, associate vice president for undergraduate enrollment at Notre Dame. Legacies outnumber first-generation college students there by more than three to one.

Schools that do weigh legacy status generally state as much, but say it doesn’t make any candidate a shoo-in.

Diana Brown, a rising senior at Cornell University whose mother also attended the school, has had classmates question her qualifications because of her legacy status. Photo: Diana Brown

On an alumni website, Duke says its admissions officers “give special consideration to these applicants, including an additional round of review.” The school also says academic achievement is the most important factor in admissions.

“ ‘Special consideration’ refers to the longstanding practice of the dean of admissions and his staff carefully reviewing applicants whose parents or grandparents are alumni before final decisions are made,” said Michael Schoenfeld, Duke’s vice president for public affairs and government relations.

Columbia University’s undergraduate admission website refers to a “slight advantage” for “extremely competitive” candidates whose parents attended Columbia, while Harvard’s site says that among “similarly distinguished applicants,” those whose parents attended Harvard’s undergraduate college “may receive an additional look.”

Mr. Bishop and representatives from other schools say much of the differential in admission rates can be explained by legacy applicants’ higher academic credentials and cultural fit. They say legacies also enroll at higher rates than other accepted students.

Diana Brown, a 20-year-old rising senior at Cornell University, recalls a freshman-year classmate questioning her qualifications because her mother was a hotel-school graduate who remains involved in the alumni community.

Ms. Brown said her high school grades were strong, and she has performed well in college, so she now brushes off people’s comments.

“I obviously know that I’m qualified and I deserve to be there,” she said.

Wellness Culture vs Natural Causes

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

Barbara Ehrenreich has a new book out,  Natural Causes.

Once associated with play, exercise is now closer to a form of labor: measured, timed, and financially incentivized by employers and insurers. Like any kind of alienated labor, it assumes and intensifies the division between mind and body—indeed, it involves a kind of violence by the mind against the body. Ehrenreich is tired of being told to “crush your workout,” of being urged to develop “explosive strength” through a “warrior” routine. She cites the copy from an advertisement for a home fitness machine: “A moment of silence please, for my body has no idea what I’m about to put it through.” Exercise, for some reason, has become a struggle to the death. As Oscar Pistorius—the amputee and Olympic runner convicted of murder in 2015—has tattooed on his back, “I beat my body and make it my slave / I bring it under my complete subjection.”

As the title of the article suggests, it’s really a much deeper critique of the idea that we have total control and agency over our bodies, and also suggests that more attention be paid to social justice and less to trying to control something that’s fundamentally out of our control — our mortality.

https://newrepublic.com/article/148296/barbara-ehrenreich-radical-crtique-wellness-culture

 

Open Thread

With summer travel, the reserve of topics, especially light hearted or lifestyle ones, is getting thin.   Because of upcoming travel by the two admins,  during the two weeks starting  July 29 the site may occasionally be on autopilot.   Please keep ’em coming!!

Wed- Wellness Culture

Th — Legacy Admissions

Fri — Time wasters

Honoring requests of deceased loved ones

by Rhode

We’ve talked fairly frequently about members of our families passing on and the requests they’ve made. We talk about writing everything down to ease the strain on the surviving family. But we’ve never really addressed the surviving family side.

I never thought about this until my dad passed. I knew he wanted to be cremated and his ashes scattered. Until recently, Catholics were not to be cremated. While the Vatican changed its position, and deceased Catholics can be cremated, their ashes cannot be scattered.

Any reservation I had about scattering his ashes had nothing to do with Catholic law. My issues were solely legal. I knew he wanted his ashes scattered on public and federal land. So I had a few options: (1) get permits (2) don’t ask don’t tell (3) don’t do it. I explored option 1 getting frustrated at the state of NY, and ended up following option 2. I couldn’t bring myself to not fulfill his wishes. I had plenty of reasons not to – “not my responsibility” was top on my hit parade. This was his wife’s (now widow’s) job, but she left him at the funeral home for six months while she planned her move to Florida. But at the end of the day, I couldn’t stand the thought that he would sit somewhere and be forgotten. My moral conviction to honor his wishes outweighed any issues with potentially breaking a law.

This led me to wonder about other cultures and how they handle death and funeral practices…

Click on  TED for a ~14 minute video is a fascinating look at life through death, and the transition of a person from living to ancestral. Text summary here (if you can’t watch the video).

Have you been privileged to witness a funeral tradition unlike yours? Or, when honoring requests, have any of you been asked to do something that you cannot honor?Honor

Politics Open Thread, July 15-21

Here are some thoughts from WCE on land/wildlife management as a starter.

While we were at White Sulfur Springs, one of the topics of conversation with random locals in the hot pool was wolf management and their interaction with cattle. This article describing someone treed and rescued in Washington brought those conversations to mind. Mr. WCE saw lots of wolf sign and few young elk while hunting last year, suggesting that many calves are being killed by wolves. One of the challenges of environmental and wildlife management is the rural/urban divide. When should decisions be made democratically vs. by people most affected by the decisions or by wildlife managers?

https://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2018/07/student_rescued_after_climbing.html#incart_std

Life’s little luxuries

by Becky

I’ve been thinking lately about the little luxuries in life that make me happy.

This started because I spend too much time reading news and politics, and it’s making me cranky. So I have been making a concerted effort to spend some time each day on things that I know make me happy. In addition to nightly walks with DH, I am making more time to read.

As I crawled into a freshly made bed to read, the first time I’ve read in bed in more than a year, I realized that to me this is the ultimate in luxury. I enjoy the quiet, the soft lighting, and the chance to just relax and take my mind off the day.

What are little things that feel like a luxury to you?

Weighing Student Privacy vs Suicide Risk

Article suggested by Rhett on a Hamilton College Student

Should colleges notify  parents if they become aware of a student “at risk?”

Have student privacy rules gone too far in keeping the tuition payers in the dark about everything in their student’s life, including grades or academic probation  or health center admissions or unpaid campus bills?

The Downside to Changing Your Eating Habits

by Honolulu Mother

A while ago I ran across this article by a woman who tried eating in a more French style (or her understanding of that) for a week, and found that not only were there lifestyle elements that made it challenging for her, she also felt that by the end of the week the differnet diet was having a negative impact on how she felt.  She’d been eating a lot more bread than usual and blamed that for feeling extra hungry during the day, and she was also tired of bread.

(If you use an adblocker you’ll need to pause it and reload the page to read the article.)
The article made me muse about how much a dramatic change of diet, by itself, can throw off how one feels all day and in some cases (such as we discussed a couple of weeks ago here!) can give you serious digestive upset when it’s combined with unfamiliar microbes in a place you’re visiting.  I don’t think this is necessarily a question of one diet being objectively better than another, so much as that our gut does adjust to the foods we usually eat.  And indeed, science has been looking at the relationship between “gut microbiota” and diet in recent years, e.g. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29332901 .
On a personal level, when we travel to the mainland it seems like we end up eating more fries and sandwiches and less rice and shoyu/garlic/ginger based flavors generally, and after about a week we need to cook or seek out a suitable restaurant.  (I’ve already planned on this for our Europe trip — Paris and London have plenty of options but I don’t want to be out in the French countryside and realize that everyone is craving rice!)  I don’t see this as a matter of one diet being more healthful than another, so much as a habitual diet having a powerful, powerful effect on what food makes us feel right.
For people trying a dramatic change of diet for health reasons, I’m sure this increases the challenge — not only are you perhaps getting fewer calories than you’re used to, but what you are eating isn’t what your body is craving.
Have tried a different diet than usual, whether as part of a regimen like Whole 30 or just as a side effect of travel?  Did you notice changes in how you felt?

Open Thread plus mini starter

Topics for this week:

Wed –  The Downside to Changing Your Eating Habits

Th – Student Privacy vs Suicide Risk

Fri – Life’s little luxuries

 

SPAM TRAPPING:   Several more posters have been getting caught in spam.   One person suggested that it relates to clearing cookies or other privacy settings on your browser or device.    I observe that almost the posters who are occasionally held up have handles that are words in ordinary language or appear to be place names.    Perhaps in the spam catching algorithm identifies them as bot generated handles.   We work on it, but at midday I am often out and can only free it up when I get home.

PRIVACY INITIATIVE:   The administrators may have bitten off more than we can chew in promising the complete change for July 1.    Please be patient.   We have other things going on in our lives, and most of this has to be done by “July” since for some reason “Mémé” doesn’t have the right sort bulk editing functionality for WordPress.

The fact that my administrative view in WordPress is limited provides a nice segue into a starter topic.       There are websites that work and display completely on my desktop Mac but not on my husband’s desktop PC (and I have logged into them via Google Chrome on both, so it is not browser specific), and vice versa.   There are mobile versions that lose partial functionality on the Ipad but not on the Android phone and vice versa.   Tech savvy folks, why is this?   Help!!!!

 

 

 

 

Relationships with our parents as they age

by S&M

Milo mentioned no longer being able to tease his parents about certain topics (I can’t recall teasing my parents ever having been appropriate). Louise commented on expecting her parents to call when they get home from a long trip, which I think many of us do. After months (maybe over a year) of me pointing it out plainly, my mother may be beginning to realize that when she refuses to put things into words, or thinks things go without saying, I probably won’t have any idea what she’s thinking.

How has the relationship changed for you over time?   For older posters, are you seeing changes in the ways your launched adult children relate to you?   For those who no longer have living parents, please share your past experiences.

College Admission DeBrief

by Houston

This article reviews several changes to the current college admissions process in the US including a lottery and limiting the number of schools to which students can apply. What do you think about these options (other than the fact that some could be illegal). Parents of high school seniors: how did the college application process go for your child?   How are the plans for the actual departure going?   Parents of high school juniors: how are you preparing for the coming college application process?

https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2018/04/college-admissions-antitrust/559088/

Travel Topic and Schedule for the Week

There will be no topic tomorrow on the holiday, the college process recap topic  on Thursday, July 5 and no new topic on Friday    Back to regular schedule next week.

If it’s from Apartment Therapy, you know it’s from me [S&M]

We’ve discussed the pros and cons of packing cubes so often that most people on the blog can probably tell you who does and doesn’t use them. But what about other travel organizers? This article, which first came out a year ago, includes a variety of organizers to take on the road.

I can vouch for the usefulness of a toiletries bag, but it has been years since I used the folding one from LLBean with a hook on it. I think my mom uses the one I gave her, but she checks luggage. We almost always carry everything on, so our bottles of liquids are much too small to take advantage of that bag. What I use most often is a little one from American Airlines that has a mesh compartment and a couple of pockets. I love it, and am surprised ti’s held up so well for several years. I wish I could find similar for sale, for when it eventually gives out. On the other things on this list—that’s a swanky looking jewelry organizer, and an itinerary that required so many baubles would probably be pretty luxe as well. Sigh. Not my life. I’m a sucker for things like the $5 organizer bag, but doubt I’d actually use it or the tech accessories thingy. Further downhill, replacing my usual system with a passport wallet would probably throw me into disarray, and the thought of a special bag just for bras makes me laugh. I’m on the fence about laundry bags; of course it’s useful to separate dirty things from clean, but if I shift things around in my packing system, then it doesn’t all fit together the same way. Besides, when I’m traveling, the only things that I absolutely rule out re-wearing because of hygiene are undies, and those don’t need a whole bag. Even a shirt with something dribbled down the front can work as a layering piece. I note that many commenters mention plastic bags and clear vacuum bags. I’ve been using vacuum bags recently (I like U-Haul’s much better than Zip-Locks; they’re harder to rip and easier to zip), and compression cubes are the one type that make sense to me.

What about you? What are your favorite travel organizers? Do you replace your usual daily routine when you travel, or expand it greatly?

https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/the-organizing-accessories-expert-travelers-always-have-in-their-suitcase-244212

Medical Issues, Cost, Quality of Life

by Louise

Recently there was some discussion of premature babies and the cost immediate and ongoing. I have also become aware of people in my community (in their 40s) who are on the list for organ transplants. This has involved ongoing fund raising within the community.
What has been your experience with medical issues ? How have families managed costs ? Did people do everything to save their loved ones, regardless of the quality of life or the cost ?

2018 Politics Open Thread, Jul 1-7

This week we start with WCE’s submission of an article that attacks  liberal thinking and motives (the word evil can be found).    I requested conservative sources – please do not assume that she endorses every assertion.

https://imprimis.hillsdale.edu/the-case-against-liberal-compassion/

Because the MSM articles we post on the regular threads often have a culturally liberal slant, I haven’t solicited far left ones to provoke discussion here, seeing the politics page as a place where the moderate to right wing viewpoints usually start us up.    However, if any of you debate lovers have anything that is left of NYT/Vox/Slate, send it in.

Who Needs Calculus? Not High Schoolers

by Fred

A topic that seems perfect for our group   WSJ article reproduced in full.

Who Needs Calculus? Not High-Schoolers

They’d be better off taking AP statistics or computer science.

By James Markarian

Thousands of American high-school students on Tuesday will take the Advanced Placement calculus exam. Many are probably dreading it, perhaps seeing the test as an attempt to show off skills they will never use. What if they’re right?

I started thinking about this recently when my 14-year-old daughter was doing her pre-calculus homework. I couldn’t help wondering: Is this the best direction for children her age? Students need skills to thrive in the 21st-century workplace, and I’m not convinced calculus is high on that list. Sure, calculus is essential for some careers, particularly in physics and engineering. But few eighth-graders are set on those fields.

It’s clear, on the other hand, that the American economy has entered a new age of data. Workers increasingly must analyze reams of numbers to improve products, increase sales or cut costs. Maybe high schools should spend more time on subjects like statistics and probability.

The Labor Department estimatesthat “statistician” will be one of the fastest-growing job categories over the next decade, faster than “software developer” and “information security analyst.” The pay isn’t bad either: The median statistician made $84,060 in 2017.

Yet in 2016 nearly 450,000 high-school students took an AP calculus exam. Fewer than half that took the statistics test, and fewer still took an AP exam in computer science.

Calculus classes have expanded dramatically in high schools since the 1980s. Intense competition for elite colleges is probably pushing students to take calculus because they hope it will increases their chances of admission.

But if high schools “teach to the test,” gearing classes to help students pass the AP exam, it could be counterproductive for students who wind up choosing physics or engineering. When college comes around, they may struggle if they are allowed to skip first-semester math classes even if they haven’t truly grasped the basics.

I’m not saying high schools should stop teaching calculus, but perhaps colleges should reconsider awarding credit for it. Changing the incentives could encourage students to take subjects relevant to their ambitions. Statistics and probability are much easier to apply to real-world problems, such as traffic analysis or election polling, which helps keep adolescents engaged. Failing at math is sometimes cited as an “academic trip wire” that causes students to drop out of school.

There’s evidence that parents already favor a change in curriculum. In a 2015 Gallup poll, 9 of 10 parents said computer science should be taught in schools, but many districts don’t teach it well. The education system is not aligned with the reality of today’s workplace.

One positive shift is that outside opportunities for learning have greatly expanded. Millions of people world-wide have signed up for MOOCs, massively open online courses, which facilitate self-directed study. Popular courses include machine learning, data science, and the programming language R, which is widely used in data science and statistics.

So spare a thought on Tuesday for the half-million teenagers drudging through derivatives. I hope the test gets them into the colleges of their dreams, but how much it will help them build careers is uncertain. As for the next generation of high-schoolers: Statistics is calling. You might like it, and it can get you a good-paying job—in all probability.

Mr. Markarian is chief technology officer of SnapLogic.

Appeared in the May 15, 2018, print edition.

 

How to Survive your 40s

Rhett suggested an article from the NYT by Pamela Druckerman, author of Bringing Up Bébé.   She has a new book coming out.

merlin_137655687_191ba2fb-1c74-4b88-b503-f7a00d5e68a3-superjumbo

Click here for full article

Excerpts

If you want to know how old you look, just walk into a French cafe. It’s like a public referendum on your face.

When I moved to Paris in my early 30s, waiters called me “mademoiselle.” It was Bonjour, mademoiselle” when I walked into a cafe and “Voilà, mademoiselle” as they set down a coffee.

Around the time I turned 40, however, there was a collective switch, and waiters started calling me “madame.” These “madames” were tentative at first, but soon they were coming at me like a hailstorm. Now it’s “Bonjour, madame” when I walk in, “Merci, madame” when I pay my bill and “Au revoir, madame” as I leave. Sometimes several waiters shout this at once.

On one hand, I’m intrigued by this transition. Do these waiters gather after work for Sancerre and a slide show to decide which female customers to downgrade? (Irritatingly, men are “monsieur” forever.).  The worst part is that they’re trying to be polite. They believe I’m old enough that the title can’t possibly wound.

This has all happened too quickly for me to digest. I still have most of the clothes that I wore as a mademoiselle. There are mademoiselle-era cans of food in my pantry.

But the world keeps telling me that I’ve entered a new stage. While studying my face in a well-lit elevator, my daughter describes it bluntly: “Mommy, you’re not old, but you’re definitely not young.”

I’m starting to see that as a madame, even a newly minted one, I am subject to new rules. When I try to act adorably naïve now, people aren’t charmed — they’re baffled. Cluelessness no longer goes with my face. I’m  expected to wait in the correct line at airports and show up on time for my appointments.

And yet brain research shows that in the 40s, some of these tasks are harder: On average we’re more easily distracted than younger people, we digest information more slowly and we’re worse at remembering specific facts. (The ability to remember names peaks in the early 20s.) You know you’re in your 40s when you’ve spent 48 hours trying to think of a word, and that word was “hemorrhoids.”

These days, when I think, “Someone should really do something about that,” I realize with alarm that that “someone” is me.    It’s not an easy transition. I’d always been reassured by the idea that there are grown-ups in the world out there curing cancer and issuing subpoenas.  In an emergency, I’ve always trusted that grown-ups — mysterious, capable and wise — would appear to rescue me.

I’m not thrilled about looking older. But what unsettles me most about the 40s is the implication that I’m now a grown-up myself. I fear I’ve been promoted beyond my competence. What is a grown-up anyway? Do they really exist? If so, what exactly do they know? Will my mind ever catch up with my face?

Open Thread with Starter

Wed – How to survive your 40s

Th – Who Needs Calculus?

Fri – What’s in your Inbox/Mailbox?

Note:  There will be only two discussion topics posted during the following week that includes Independence Day.     Thanks for sending in some new ones to fill up the rest of the month.

 

Here’s a Vox interview (Guy promoting a book) as a starter for today.

https://www.vox.com/2018/5/8/17308744/bullshit-jobs-book-david-graeber-occupy-wall-street-karl-marx

Possible NSFW alert.  The full form of BS appears in the title and throughout the article.

Pair Novels With Your Destinations

by saacnmama

Skimming through a Popsugar list of ways to have a better European vacation, (https://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/Europe-Trip-Tips-43838449#photo-43838992 )  I found this direct hit for the Totebag crowd. It combines travel with fiction.

If you think reading guidebooks before embarking on your journey paints the picture, try devouring a delicious plot that captures the culture, scenery, and must dos of a destination all at the same time. There isn’t a destination anywhere (not just in Europe) that isn’t written about prolifically.
 As an example, if Cinque Terre is on your bucket list, read Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter first.

Pair Novels With Your Destinations

 

Totebaggers,  suggest pairing of literature, art or film with your previous, scheduled or wish list destinations.

Open Thread

Retention policy update:

Here are the latest poll numbers: 

94 total
29% / 28     don’t care
35% / 34     3 months or shorter
35% / 34     6 months or longer
The administrators have decided to go with 4 months public access, starting July 1.  It will be 4 previous months plus  the current month.      Older posts will not be permanently deleted immediately, but held for at least a year as private.

 

Since education is the most popular topic by far, occupying the Open Thread two weeks ago and the Politics page (perfectly civil discussion) last week,  we will try out Education Thursday to go with Relationship Monday and Open Tuesday.

Offline, we received a observation that some types of topics don’t get a lot of traffic with the implication that we would be better served by providing different ones.    So we are asking people outside of the usual group of 5-8 to submit things of interest to them with a story or a link.     And be aware that summer is slow.   Fewer people are in need of a workday time-filler.

Topics for the rest of the week:

Wed-  Paying workers off the books

Th—   Alternatives to College

Fri–   Pair Novels with your Destinations

 

 

Are Americans too attached to their pets?

by MooshiMooshi
This article, which is from the National Review, presents the idea that we have become too close to our pets and that this is getting in the way of forming real relationships.
I think in some cases, there could be some truth in that. But sometimes people become obsessed with pets because they fill a gap. I know someone who wanted kids, but her husband did not, so now that they are older she fills in by doting on her cats and dogs. She posts endless photos on social media just as we do with our kids, and she even paints portraits of them. I think it helps her, though.  I see many other parents bringing dogs and cats into their lives as their children migrate off to college and jobs. On the other hand, a friend of mine from college collects cats. He has never managed to have a longterm relationship, and I think the 6 or more cats at any time in his apartment are one of the barriers.
In this era of floof and blep and emotional support peacocks, have we gone too far in adoration of our animals?

What do you keep in the fridge?

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

I refrigerate ketchup, mustard, flavored vinegars, hot sauce, and basically anything else that I can wedge into the fridge. I got this from my mom. DH thinks that not all condiments have to be refrigerated. How about bread? Nuts? Flour? Peanut butter?  The current stick of butter in the dish?

 

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

by WCE

Interesting article on the limitations of machine learning

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/05/machine-learning-is-stuck-on-asking-why/560675/

“In that case, what do you think about free will?

Pearl: We’re going to have robots with free will, absolutely. We have to understand how to program them and what we gain out of it. For some reason, evolution has found this sensation of free will to be computationally desirable.

Hartnett: In what way?

Pearl: You have the sensation of free will; evolution has equipped us with this sensation. Evidently, it serves some computational function.

Hartnett: Will it be obvious when robots have free will?

Pearl: I think the first evidence will be if robots start communicating with each other counterfactually, like “You should have done better.” If a team of robots playing soccer starts to communicate in this language, then we’ll know that they have a sensation of free will. “You should have passed me the ball—I was waiting for you and you didn’t!” “You should have” means you could have controlled whatever urges made you do what you did, and you didn’t. So the first sign will be communication; the next will be better soccer.”

The post header is, of course, the title of the Philip K Dick story on which Blade Runner is based (inserted by Mémé).    The TV series Westworld also explores issues of robot consciousness.    What do you think about machine learning in general and the wider issue of “free will” in machines?    What would you like to see in your lifetime?

 

 

 

Identity and Clan

by Louise

The Rachel Divide

A very interesting documentary is out on Betflix about a white woman by birth who has identified as black.   (Rachel became notorious a few years ago because she was an NAACP official.    She was a white bio child, whose family adopted several black sibs, and she allied herself with them against the parents, altered her hair and complexion.)

Beyond the exploration of her actions and motivations,  the film raises wider questions about identity.   Who we are, who are our people and our community.   It many a time rears its head when we think about adoption, relocating far from our places of birth.    It also appears when we participate in an activity historically associated with one group or another.

In a nation where we can be who we want to be (or at least are lead to believe so) discuss what identity means to you.

What happens when the group you identify with (either by origin or your active choice) rejects you in public and in subtle ways?     How do you deal with and move on from that?

Open Thread

Please participate in the poll.   Regulars, lurkers, those who are waiting for a final policy to determine whether to continue.    We two administrators followed people’s comments both on and off line and came to radically different conclusions about what group really wants.   We need hard data.

Topics for the rest of the week

Wed –   Identity and Clan

Th – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Fri – What do you keep in the Fridge?

 

Following up with old Classmates

 

Have you kept touch/regained touch with old high school (or college) friends? Were you surprised at how well or poorly they turned out? Not just financially, but emotionally, spiritually, that they just became good, cool people, or got really boring?

On some blog or other, an inveterate FB old acquaintance seeker really couldn’t understand why people from high school and college would not want to re-connect with her.   Here are some of the reasons she tried to imagine for their refusal to engage.

  •  They are now different people with totally different lives and interests.
  • There are aspects of their past they don’t want to re-live.
  • Their plate is already full of friends, acquaintances, and relatives
  • She was a jerk to them, without knowing, and they don’t want to be part of her self discovery narrative.
  • They really don’t know or remember her.

Has anyone from those days tried to reconnect with you, for good or for ill?

 

Non-travel Wish/Bucket List

by Rhett

Unfulfilled Bucket List Items

I’ll give mine.

1. Go to an event requiring a tuxedo. Ideally white tie.

2. Attend an auction.

3. Conduct business while being fitted for a custom made suite, like guys do in the movies.

Who will clean your self driving Uber?

by L

Unforeseen problems with self-driving cars: who will clean them? https://slate.com/technology/2018/05/who-will-clean-self-driving-cars.html?via=article_recirc_recent

Being one of those people who gets carsick easily, I can foresee this being one of the most important reasons for me not to buy a self-driving car. (On long trips, I always drive so I don’t get sick.)

What unanticipated problems do you for see for on-the-horizon  technological advancements or have you already encountered with those already introduced?

Summer plans

Fred wondered if we had already done a formal post on summer or other vacation plans.     Not expressly, but the discussion meanders into that territory frequently.

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer season in many parts of the country (but not New England) .   Also, there are still many posters dealing with child care gaps during the summer, as well.    How are you dealing with the kids’ schedule?

Winemama is considering a trip overseas, her first. She would appreciate a review of how to find cheap airfares and other tips for travelers.

Kerri asked for summer reading suggestions for adults and children, and wonders what was on your or your kids’ high school summer reading lists.

If you have firm plans, what are they? If not, or you’re just dreaming about something, what are you thinking about?

Open Thread

Totebag 30 day challenge week 4 will go live on Thursday.   I’ll put it on the top level to remind everyone.

Anyone who still has privacy concerns or requests should email one of the admins. We will respond offline.

We are unable to figure out why the name “Lark” ends up being flagged as spam.   Perhaps it has joined the list of names used by Russian girls who want to be your friend.   Lemon’s post of last week just had too many links and went into pending approval.

Upcoming posts.

Wed –  SUMMER PLANS

Th –  WHO WILL CLEAN A SELF DRIVING UBER?

Fri –  NON-TRAVEL WISH/BUCKET LIST

What is GDPR and why should I care?

topic submitted by saacnmama

From an internet article.

If you’re a person on the internet, you’ve probably been getting a lot of emails from companies about privacy updates, all related to a new law that just went into effect in the European Union: the General Data Protection Regulation, known as the GDPR.

1. What is the GDPR?

It’s a set of data privacy laws that was approved by the European Parliament in 2016, and after a two-year transition period, it’s now law. It affects any company that handles the personal information of anyone in Europe, and that means any company that does business in Europe, even if it’s based in the United States or somewhere else in the world.

It’s much stronger than privacy regulations in the United States. It basically says that companies have to get explicit permission to collect and use your data, and that they have to let you see what they’re storing and allow you to remove it. If you’re in the EU, that is. 

2. Why is the EU putting new regulations in place (and why isn’t the United States)?

The EU, being made up of lots of different countries, has a lot of rules around privacy and data collection and how data should be stored by companies not based in Europe. So really simply, the GDPR is an attempt to create one set of rules that everyone can follow, and it happens to enact the most consumer-friendly set.

The United States essentially has no federal privacy regulations around data collection, use and notification. The difference is really cultural; privacy is considered a human right in Europe, and of course, it’s a much more regulation-friendly environment. American citizens have a lot less concern about trading information for free goods or services, like email, maps, chat or photo sharing, and it hasn’t seemed necessary.

3. What do the new privacy regulations mean for users in the United States?

It depends on the company. In the short term, it means a lot of emails about updated terms of service and privacy policies, which you’ve already probably noticed. But some companies, like Microsoft, have said that it’s going to make the rules of the GDPR standard for every user, even people in the United States. So in theory, that could mean that you could call up Microsoft, ask to see what personal information it has about you and maybe ask Microsoft to delete it.

4. What do businesses need to do to comply?

First, they have to figure out if this applies to them. It applies to any business that processes the information of anyone located in the EU. There are probably some businesses that don’t realize that their mailing list is international.

And even if they don’t understand exactly how to comply with the new rules — because they are a little bit vague — experts say that they at least have to make a good-faith effort to get consent from people in the EU to collect and use their information.

5. What does the future hold for new privacy regulations? Could this be a new standard?

That’s the hope of a lot of privacy advocates. It is likely to have a trickle-down effect on big companies, at least. It will just be easier in the long run to have one set of behaviors for how you treat personal information . And it could lead other jurisdictions to craft new privacy rules in the image of the GDPR. California is working on very strong regulations, for example.

It’s also important to note, though, that this will have a lot of downstream impacts on companies, especially small ones that can’t take the risk of large fines if they expand into Europe.    So the big will stay big and get bigger.

Totebaggers, have you been reading the new privacy notices?   Are you planning to take any action to examine the data held on you?    Are you actively concerned about privacy issues in general?

Note:   Our site was established under an earlier version of WordPress that allows fully anonymous comments with no requirement to provide an email address.  (Some posters have routinely filled in the box, but it is not necessary.)    So far an update has not been forced on us.   We therefore do not request or “monitor” personal data.    We also do not engage in economic activity.

2018 Politics Open Thread, Jun 3-9

From WCE

This article on fiscal capacity- many red-leaning states lack enough rich people to tax to provide adequate public services- summarizes what is a primary reason for the political divide. Areas with wealthy people to tax lean blue, and neither the affluent blue areas nor the less affluent red areas truly “see” the other. Both New Mexico (blue) and Utah (red) are exceptions to the general rule. Other countries including Canada do more to equalize the provision of public services.

https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/04/teacher-protests-funding-difficulties-red-states-underlying-cause/

Weddings, Proms, Graduations and Parties

by Louise

It’s the season for celebrations. The Royal Wedding was perhaps the biggest such media event of the year. Do you have any celebrations coming up ? Are you the host or hostess or a guest ? Have you looked at an invitation dress code and wondered what to wear ? Any trusty outfits you routinely dust off and wear again ?
Let’s talk about celebrations, the trends, the fashions and departures from custom.

Apparently, some people like to Cry

by Mémé

This article from the NYT piqued my interest.   You see, I HATE to cry, and rarely do.   Sentimental stuff doesn’t turn on the waterworks.    Most of the the crying I have done in my life after childhood is the hard, ugly, devastated and/or frustrated kind.     The only kind I have ever found cathartic is the one associated with biological reaction to a sudden physical injury.

The author states:

I cry. I am a crier. Crying releases the anger and frustration. Crying gets the sad out, and it humbles me in a good way. In the aftermath of crying, I experience clarity of thought and a burst of productivity.

And then she lists her favorite ways to make herself cry.   In the internet era, she likes to seek out soldier surprise homecoming videos, tragic gofundme campaigns.   And there are the old standbys –  books like Beaches, TV shows like This is Us, and apparently daytime TV such as Ellen deGeneres.

Are you someone who finds crying a welcome release?   Do you seek it out?   What odd things make you cry?

 

That which does not kill us, makes us stronger

 

A high school friend is sailing from California to Florida. He has done a number of things in his life, military, acting, private investigator and is now retired in his early 50s and sailing from California to Florida. One of the many refreshing things about his FB posts are his refusal to worry about material possessions. He has lost a house in a wildfire, rebuilt it, wrote a how to book about the process, and generally refuses to worry about lots of stuff.

Someone expressed recently expressed concern about a big storm/potential hurricane in the Gulf, and his response was basically: I’ll ride it out, or get behind a sea wall and get a hotel. If the boat sinks, I have insurance and will buy another one.

I recall in high school he was as worried as the rest of us about how life would pan out. Now, not so much.

Have you been able to navigate life challenges and jettison baggage/concerns/worries because, well you faced a challenge, saw it through and realized that it was handle-able?

5 Chores You Should Never Skip (Even If You’re Busy)

 by saacnmama
From the site Apartment Therapy

1. Making the bed

2. Doing the dishes

3. Picking up dirty laundry

4. Quick countertop swipes

5. Vacuuming common areas

The complementary list of weekly(?) chores that they think can be skipped if you are busy.

1. Mopping

2. Scrubbing the shower

3. Taking out the trash

4. Doing laundry

5. Organizing your entryway, dining room or coffee table

These are so different than mine! When I make the bed during the day, it makes no difference to me.  I fold back the sheets to air out when I wake up, and pull them straight sometime before going to bed.  What is really worth making time for is putting things away.   I have no trouble rinsing dishes off as they’re used or tossing things in the hamper, or even in the washing machine, as long as that next step isn’t blocked. What about you? What are your “must do” chores to keep your home clean?

 

Memorial Day Open Thread

Here are the topics for the rest of the week :

Tu – 5 CHORES YOU SHOULD NEVER SKIP

Wed – THAT WHICH DOES NOT KILL US, MAKES US STRONGER

Th – SOME PEOPLE LIKE TO CRY

Fri –  WEDDINGS, PROMS, GRADUATIONS

Totebag challenge week 3 will go up Wednesday.  The final challenge day in June is a Friday, so weeks 3 and 4 will be Eight Days a Week.

 

 

2018 Politics Open Thread, May 27- Jun 2

“I’m sick and tired of old men sitting around in air conditioned rooms here in Washington, dreaming up wars for young men to die in.” — George McGovern

Memorial Day is a time to remember and honor those who died in military service.     In my (Mémé’s) opinion, there is no greater honor than to stop adding to their number.

 

 

What’s in a (middle) name?

by Mémé

From time to time we have discussions on names, and trends in names.   Unfortunately, the anonymous nature of the site means that we can’t relate much of anything about the actual names used in our families.

Do you have a middle name?   Do your kids have them?    Is there something in your ethnic or regional background that dictates what is used as a middle name or how many or the order?    What about using two or more last names from both sides of the family?  How about Saints’ names?  Or the Southern custom of using  a family surname for a middle name and going by that instead of the more vanilla first name?

And if you feel like it, please share some of your real ones.    In my immediate family the middle names are  Biblical:   Asher, Isaiah, Ruth, Elizabeth, Jochebed (pronounced yō-‘HEH-but, Moses’ mother), Abraham.   Except for me.  My 1950s mom was assimilated in the fashion oand didn’t want to be ethnic, so it is Beth to honor my late grandmother, Beile (BAY-luh).

Are Bookstores Relevant?

by Lemon

I came across this opinion piece and was taken aback at the thought that Barnes & Noble may disappear. I love bookstores and love that there is a B&N five minutes from me. I often go with my kids so they can explore and find books that interest them. We’ve adapted to their changes (smaller store, much smaller kids section with no reading nooks or chairs to lose yourself in a book, and less staff), and it looks like we may have to adapt some more.

We are avid users of our library too but there is something about an outing to the bookstore that we love to do as family.

Would you be sad if Barnes and Noble closes? Do you think Amazon is to blame? Will you use the library more or seek out independent booksellers?