Teatotaling

by S&M

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

Teetotaling Made Trendy

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Is this your bag?

by S&M

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

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

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

Another person posted the following video.

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

Food finds

by S&M

What are you eating these days? I don’t mean matzoh balls, Cadbury Creme eggs or springtime asparagus. What have you recently started eating? Have you “columbused” any good new-to-you foods?

I came across Chobani roasted red pepper dip in the deli section recently. I like that company’s Greek yogurt, so I gave this a try. Yum! It’s good on all the standby crackers and veggies. I’ve dived into a couple of “old” foods with renewed vigor. Since learning that scallops, which I once thought of as an occasional treat, are pretty much straight protein and no fat, I’ve eaten them nearly every other day. Lunch today was pasta, scallops sautéed with leeks, and the dip as a sauce. I’ve also put scallops into salads, often with sun dried tomatoes. Another thing that’s new to me is protein powder. I haven’t figured out very many ways to use it yet, other than stirring it into Greek yogurt. It can supposedly be substituted for up to half the flour in baked goods, but I chicken out every time I think I’m going to try that.

My issue with gluten seems to be over now. It expanded until corn and rice, which have no gluten, were also giving me problems, and then one day I had to have a bite of something my son was eating because it looked so good, and I was fine. That means I can renew all my old favorites. I’m glad because quinoa takes more time and attention to make than couscous. I can put water on the stove, chop veggies, pour the water over the couscous, saute the veggies, and dump them over the grain with a squirt of lemon juice and a little EVOO in ten minutes. Another old thing that’s new again are pizzelles, for the simple reason that the very thin waffles don’t have many calories or fat grams. I tell myself that they are cookies, and I can eat the whole thing.

So what’s new on your table?

Happy travel

by S&M

This post mentions the famous (I think) free 3-day Reykjavik layover from Iceland air. It got me thinking about other possible things to do on layovers, like the Air and Space Museum right next to Dulles. Then I started reminiscing about past layover “wins”.

Flying between Ethiopia and Germany, I had my flights rearranged in Entebbe as Clinton (and AF 1) delayed our departure. When I got to Rome, I had an 8 hr layover, and didn’t want to hang out in any more airport space. I rode the subway into the city, not sure where I was going, but happy to be out of the airport (I was 32, single, and childfree). As I came up from the station, most of the crowd seemed to be going in one direction. I saw no reason to swim against the tide. I continued to move along for a couple of blocks before the people ahead of me handed over their bags for someone to search. The whole crowd seemed to be lining up. Huh? Random security checks on the sidewalk? I looked around and realized we were at the gates of the Vatican. I went on in, no ticket required, and found myself standing in St Peter’s Square, just outside the Basillica, with hundreds if not thousands of people. What now? The pope? I was joking to myself, but sure enough, the crowd at one end parted, cheers went up, and there was the famous Popemobile, with the pontiff smiling and waving as he drove through the crowd. He drove around a bit before he gave a brief welcome and blessing and I think that was it. It was a bit of a surreal experience.

Another time, I knew in advance that my son and I would have an 11-hr layover after flying across the Pacific. We had nearly missed our outbound flight in LAX, so I was fine with the wait, but with a 3 year old? We took a cab to the beach, played in the surf, slept in the sun, ate in a cafe, and were refreshed when our redeye began.

So how ’bout it? Do you have any good layover stories, intentional or not?

Layovers Don’t Have to Suck: Escape the Airport and Explore

Who needs a NMSF house?

by S&M

We’ve discussed not so smart technology before. Now it seems the pendulum is really swinging back, from “cram in all the tech” to “moderate tech” to….what?

I don’t feel the need to have internet access for every single thing. We’ve had motion-detector lights in the bathrooms for several years. They get us to the potty in the middle of the night, but don’t blind us. During the day, it’s nice to avoid the very loud fans that come on with the overhead lighting in there. (Aside: I know one visitor to Germany, where these are de rigueur in public facilities, who recalls the lights going out  too early, and living in terror the rest of her trip, afraid that it would happen again.) The following made me laugh “those of us that just want to wake up in the morning feeling like our body loves us back don’t need a bunch of touchscreens. We just want a cup of coffee to pep up so that we don’t walk into our office screaming at everyone”. I love my little mocha pot, and sometimes use a simple pour-over cone. Works for me. And grilling? Isn’t that all about getting in touch with the primal lure of fire?

How about you? Do you embrace a dumb house?

LOW-TECH WAYS TO LIVE THE HIGH LIFE AT HOME

Shopping across the gender divide

by S&M

Most of us would have no problem stepping across the baby blue/pink divide to pick up an item for our children, but for ourselves, as adults? Have you purchased or do you use items not designed for your gender? Why or why not?

My feet are size 10 in women’s, size 8 in men’s. I’ve bought men’s shoes twice: my leather Converse for high school basketball and a pair of oxfords. The BB shoes were ok, but the others never felt right on my feet. Maybe it was just the shoes, I don’t know, but that put me off buying men’s shoes. 20 or 30 years ago, I bought “men’s” bikes because the crossbar made them more stabile. I consider the tools I own to be gender neutral. Some were my grandfather’s. When I chose the others, color was not a consideration.

5 Items You Should Buy From the Men’s Section

So how about it? What do you own that might be considered not gender-appropriate? How did you make the choice to buy or use it? Do you feel any repercussions from either crossing that line or following it too closely?

Trade-offs between privacy and security

by S&M

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

The Wealth Report 2017

Privacy is rapidly becoming an unattainable luxury

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gifted vs. high-achieving

by S&M

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

The Truth About ‘Gifted’ Versus High-Achieving Students

Surprised by Shaker style

by S&M

Whaaaaaat?

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

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

Or we could talk cupboards, if you want.

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

Your retirement location and home

by S&M

The Wealth Report

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

 

Devious decluttering

by S&M

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

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

Weather the weather

by S&M

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

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

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

The Rise and Fall of DARE

by Honolulu Mother

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

DARE: The Anti-Drug Program That Never Actually Worked

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

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

How did your home get its ‘look’?

by S&M

This could go two ways–home offices or decorators.

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

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

5 Fantastic Home Offices We Love

Wealth concentration

by S&M

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

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

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

 

 

Big projects

by S&M

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

10 Ways to Reset Your Kitchen for the New Year

Sex Ed

by saacnmama

My son recently brought home a paper from school:

Your son/daughter will be receiving instruction about AIDS/HIV/STDs in the 7th grade. Because of the present lack of a medical solution to AIDS/HIV/STDs, prevention has been identified as the only viable alternative for controlling AIDS/HIV/STDs. Education is the first step to prevention.

The six areas of study will be

• Abstinence
• Facts concerning AIDS/HIV/STDs
• HIV and the immune system
• The transmission of AIDS/HIV/STDs
• Risk behaviors and preventative practices
• A general overview of other sexually transmitted diseases
• Peer pressure refusal skills

Emphasis will be placed on abstinence from sex and drugs as the most effective ways to prevent AIDS/HIV/STDs.

This unit will be taught in Science class. They are just wrapping up a unit on mitosis and meiosis, so this follows logically. Over the years, I have answered lots of questions from my son. Our approach has always been biological. Explaining that the reason sex feels good so that people and animals will do it and procreate, but they sometimes do it “extra” because of that good feeling, makes sense to me as long as he sees no other reason for it. I do not know if the state we live in (Florida) is one of the states required to focus on abstinence, but that would not surprise me. This article gives some interesting information on abstinence teaching and why it may not be most successful at reducing disease and teen pregnancy. The approach it seems to suggest would be very hard to implement as just one parent, because it involves societal values.

The days of the biological scientific approach are limited. His schoolmates apparently give him plenty of examples of sexual desire at work, and he reported that one of the principle ways girls at the first and only school dance he’s been to danced was running their hands up and down their own bodies. I am sure it will not be too long until circuits are connected and his lights and buzzers start going off. He has already begun to ask me questions about my own experiences (beyond the initial “you did that once? I know you did, to make me”). I have far more experience than I think is healthy to discuss with him. I have already mentioned that I did not do a good job picking out a husband or his father (to which he snorted and agreed), that I do not want him to follow in my footsteps, that I want him to have a long and good relationship with his partner. Right now, the system is powered down and this sounds good to him. When his questions become more detailed and insistent, my plan is to switch to “don’t kiss and tell”, including how girls’ reputation, more than boys, can be ruined by this, and that he should never discuss what or he someone else has done sexually.

All of us have been through this ourselves, “in the Dark Ages”, and many of you have guided one or more youngsters through it. What do you recall, and what recommendations can you make?

Peeps Must Die

by saacnmama

We’re having a party! This Saturday, ‘saac is inviting his nerdiest friends over to destroy Peeps, a la http://www.toadhaven.com/Peep%20Science.html or the website peeped search dot com. The “science” will be entirely tongue in cheek, but the humor and creativity should be full-on.

I haven’t figured out yet if it will be indoors or out. If they’re indoors, they would be in the kitchen, where they could heat the suckers up on the stove (or in the oven), nuke ’em, and pour various things over them in the sink. Outside, we’d probably go to the shelter next to the pool. We’d take a bucket or two of water, and they could use the charcoal grill. When they’re done grilling, I could make Providence’s pizza while they jump in the pool. I’m not knocking myself out for this one, but am very open to your suggestions on how to make it easy and fun.

Do You Use Math Much?

by saacnmama

You’ve Been Cutting Your Cake Wrong All Your Life

We talk about calculus enough in here, and have made a few jokes about its use beyond the classroom. At my undergrad university, either calculus or formal logic could be used to fulfill one of the liberal arts requirements. In other words, the value of calculus was seen not in being able to derive anything, but in following steps to make an analysis. How do you use your math background? Using simple algebra to calculate exposed area per volume of remaining cake could be one way to test out this method of cake cutting. Where else is math handy for you, and what level math do you use most often?

Do Schools ‘Require’ Helicopter Parenting?

by saacnmama

Teacher sends father a stern note scolding him for his daughter’s ‘unhealthy’ pack lunch of ‘chocolate, marshmallows, a cracker and a pickle’ – unfortunately for the school, dad’s a doctor

We’ve had lots of sideline chatter about “requirements” to be helicopter parents recently. If we want to bring it front and center, this is as good a starting place as any.