Christmas Eve open thread

Merry Christmas!  Today and tomorrow we can chat here on any topic as we enjoy the holiday.

Upcoming topics:

Tuesday  —  No post
Wednesday  —  Share your holiday party disasters  (S&M)
Thursday  —  What motivates really rich people?  (WCE)
Friday  —  Weird news: Unloved books  (Rhode)
Sunday —  Politics open thread
Monday  —  New Year’s Eve open thread

Parents in the school lunchroom?

by Swim

Ban on parents at school lunchrooms roils Connecticut town

The headline made me roll my eyes, but a paragraph in the article made me think of our discussion earlier this week about eating out and ‘fast food.’

Other districts have wrestled with lunchroom visitation policies including Beaverton, Oregon, where restrictions were added last year because many Indian and Pakistani families were bringing warm lunches from home daily for their children. The elementary school added a rack where parents can drop off lunches, and the district assesses visit requests on a case-by-case basis, district spokeswoman Maureen Wheeler said.

I’m not familiar with the idea of bringing lunch to school at lunchtime, but bringing in a warm lunch from home (which I’m equating with home cooked and therefore ‘healthier’) sounds like a habit to encourage and the solution seems to meet the needs of the parents, students and school staff.

National parks in crisis

by Denver Dad

Totebaggers are fond of our national parks, but now the parks are becoming victims of their own success. What do people think should be done to maintain them?

Horseshoe Bend is what happens when a patch of public land becomes #instagramfamous. Over the past decade photos have spread like wildfire on social media, catching the 7,000 residents of Page and local land managers off guard.

According to Diak, visitation grew from a few thousand annual visitors historically to 100,000 in 2010 – the year Instagram was launched. By 2015, an estimated 750,000 people made the pilgrimage. This year visitation is expected to reach 2 million.

Crisis in our national parks: How tourists are loving nature to death
As thrill seekers and Instagrammers swarm public lands, reporting from seven sites across America shows the scale of the threat

Tuesday open thread

Open thread all day today.

Upcoming topics:

Wednesday  —  National parks in crisis (Denver Dad)
Thursday  —  Parents in the school lunchroom? (Swim)
Friday  —  You Must Buy… (Louise)
Sunday —  Politics open thread
Monday  —  Christmas Eve open thread

Retiring Abroad

by Ada

Here on the Totebag it seems that most people imagine retirement as getting closer to kids. Maybe it’s my phase of life (I love my kids and have SO much closeness with them) but a little space seems nice. I see my parents 4-5x per year; if I lived in Ecuador, I could make the trip to visit the grandbabies/museum openings/bail hearing at roughly the same frequency.

Also, due to my line of work, I see a lot of people who deeply regret the retirement choices they made – the 66 year old who find out he has a year to live, for example. Of course, they are statistical abnormalities, but their stories stick.

Retirement in America? Too Expensive.
A new book examines the lives of expats in Ecuador and their struggle to stay in the middle class.

Weird News: Shark theft

by Rhode

Here’s the original.

Thieves snatch shark from San Antonio Aquarium, wheel it out in a baby carriage

Yes – the video is real. Thieves snatched a shark from an aquarium using a baby carriage. It’s like a Bugs Bunny cartoon come to life.

But the culprits did not get away.

Suspected shark thief in San Antonio Aquarium heist charged with felony robbery

Felony. Imagine the conversations in jail… “I’m in for stealing a shark.”

A ‘cash-free future’?

by Flyover

Many societies are becoming more and more cashless. Some restaurants won’t even take cash anymore. I usually take $200 from the ATM at a time, and this will usually last me at least six weeks. The NYT says that in Sweden, which has moved towards cashless more quickly than some other countries, “the government is recalculating the societal costs of a cash-free future.”

The article also references the fact that some tech types in Sweden are implanting a microchip into their finger which can be used to pay for things.

Thousands Of Swedes Are Inserting Microchips Under Their Skin

(Although it’s still a TINY number — “thousands” of Swedes are doing this, but the country has a population of 10 million.)

Cell phones and kids

by Louise

Cell phones – particularly as it concerns kids. I am finding that a lot of parents of older kids are taking phones away as discipline tools. What about the younger kids ? I see cell phones quietly being given to keep kids entertained. Of course there is question of when to give kids a cell phone – what is the Totebag consensus ?

I find myself texting my kids after they leave the house and before they begin school and conversely they text me when they are done with school – all mundane matters. Is that good or bad ?

Tuesday open thread

We have an open thread all day today.

Upcoming topics:

Wednesday  —  Cell phones and kids  (Louise)
Thursday  —  A ‘cash-free future’?  (Flyover)
Friday  —  Weird News: Shark theft  (Rhode)
Sunday —  Politics open thread

Leaving or staying in your hometown after college

by WCE

On going to college from the Blackfeet Indian Reservation:

The Blackfeet Brain Drain
Some Native kids who leave to pursue education find themselves stuck between a longing to help their community and the lack of viable employment back home.

We’ve talked about winning the geographic lottery at birth, which occurs when you are born/grow up somewhere with professional job opportunities. One of the reasons some people are reluctant to invest in higher education is that they don’t want to move and their communities have few jobs with returns to higher education.

The gift post!

We have ideas from two totebaggers:

From Swim:

Gifting gone wrong, and of course it’s opposite – gifting gone right.

From Houston:

Help: Are you having trouble finding that perfect gift for a friend or family member? Ask the Totebag community for suggestions.

Traditions: What are your family’s gift giving traditions? Have they changed as you’ve had kids, or your kids have grown up?

It’s all about me: What are you hoping to receive as a present? Do you buy yourself a present during this time of year?

Complaints: Complain about any aspect of holiday gift giving. Grinches welcome!

Generation Z

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

Did I already submit this? Anyway, it’s a report (that I’m not going to pay for) about how to teach Generation Z. The description page actually touches on all the relevant issues. What do you think, you parents of Gen Z? Are your kids “skeptical and money-conscious”? (Good. They’ll make excellent Totebaggers.)

The New Generation of Students: How Colleges Can Recruit, Teach, and Serve Gen Z

Tuesday open thread

Talk amongst yourselves.

Since we still have many good topics in the pipeline, this week we will only have one open thread.  I’ll continue to schedule only one open thread per week as long as we continue to have a generous flow of submitted posts.

Here’s a starter.  Nate Silver got a lot of disagreement on this tweet.  Feel free to rank the months in your city, in NYC, or anywhere else.

Upcoming topics:

Wednesday  —  Generation Z  (Rocky Mountain Stepmom)
Thursday  —  Work life balance can mean tough trade-offs  (Fred)
Friday  —  The gift post!  (Swim & Houston)
Sunday —  Politics open thread

What is the Most Influential Book of the last 20 years?

by MooshiMooshi

This article, from the Chronicle of Higher Ed, asks this question to a number of scholars. Not surprisingly, many of the books that are listed are dense reads. Some are overtly political; others have to do with culture, or the arts, or even the place of humans in a world of algorithms. I am definitely going to put some of these on my reading list. And of course, I started wondering what books I think are important. There are two ways to think about this. Which recent book or books are most influential to my own way of thinking? And which recent books or books are most influential to people in our society in general? What would you list? I am all ears, because I might find even more books to add to my already staggeringly long to-read list.

The New Canon
What’s the most influential book of the past 20 years?