The Mrs. Has A New Blog

Allow me a moment of personal privilege. I have lots of things I’d like to write up for my blog, but don’t have enough time right now. In the meantime, my wife recently relaunched her blog about cheerful home design. While I had initially tried to get her to use WordPress, we moved her over from Blogger to Squarespace. In the end, it turned out to be a good platform for her to be able to design the site how she wanted.

There are two things that drive me absolutely batty about the platform, though.

  1. It is basically impossible to link to a post on your site without knowing the exact slug. You can pull up a list of pages, but not a list of posts.
  2. There is no common media gallery, every image lives within the specific post you are working on. So, if you need to reuse an image in another post or page, you need to upload it again.

Also, I don’t want to even guess what kind of JavaScript voodoo they have running there.

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529 Moon Shot

Save or Die

It's impossible to escape the temptation to compare student loan payments to mortgage payments. Both are methods of post-funding “American dreams” using either direct federal funds or rely heavily on federal guarantees. Both are highly profitable and “too big to (let) fail”. Both represent a de facto securitization of middle class salaries by a blend of federal agencies and Wall Street.

At least a mortgagor can sell their home in a healthy housing market to extinguish mortgage debt. The security backing student loans isn't so liquid: the salary of the college graduate. This asset, too, can be sold, but only in installments of time for decades.

My goodness, Eddie Smith has written a real barn burner about paying for college. As the father of two daughters (and hopefully more kids in the future), the skyrocketing cost of higher education infuriates me. The scenario that Eddie didn't discuss, and which I think is the most likely, is that as the country liberalizes, state-run colleges and universities become free.

While I agree with Eddie that it'd be bad for society to lose those in the liberal arts, I know far too many of my peers with Medevial Art History or Youth Ministry majors that cost $80,000-100,000 and earn all of $40-45,000/year. There needs to be some check-and-balance system so that people stop paying for degrees that they can never pay off out of their future earnings.

My wife and I are both unbelievably blessed that our college educations were paid for either directly or indirectly by our parents. My parents set up a business that I had to manage and then the earnings were mine to pay for school. I hope to be able to do something like that for my kids so they still have to work hard for their education, but without needing to wait tables.

This dovetails well with the article that Bradley Chambers referenced:

The more and more I use online learning from places like Lynda.com, Codecademy, and even Audible.com to supplement gaps in my personal knowledge and technical training, the more I'm hopeful that somehow, non-traditional learning will gain traction and pop the bubble of assembly-line learning found in most higher-ed today. And just in case that doesn't happen, I'm working my tail off to save for my kids.

The billionaire’s typewriter

Still, I wouldn’t say that Medium’s ho­mo­ge­neous de­sign is bad ex ante. Among web-pub­lish­ing tools, I see Medium as the equiv­a­lent of a frozen pizza: not as whole­some as a meal you could make your­self, but for those with­out the time or mo­ti­va­tion to cook, a po­ten­tially bet­ter op­tion than just eat­ing peanut but­ter straight from the jar.

I’ve never understood Medium. This quote just about sums it up for me.

My Grandma’s 100th Birthday

My grandma was born 100 years ago today. Unbelievable. She left this world in 1998 but my parents, as well as my aunts and uncles, have done a great job preserving her legacy. Here is a little note my aunt sent out this morning:

One hundred years ago today Mom was born. Sometimes I wish I could share something with her. There is so much in my life for which I could thank her.

I like to remember her creativity, her skilled hands, her devotion to her children, her ability to teach us to work and what a hard worker she was. She loved beauty and music and pleasing people with her cooking. She could make a piece of meat tender and tasty. She could turn an old house and horrible kitchen cupboards into a welcoming home. How often did we hear “it’s a reasonable facsimile” as she made something for us.

To my younger siblings I should apologize because Don and I probably benefited most from the vigor of her youth. She stenciled T-shirts for all of Don’s softball team. She sang in church and around the house. She dressed dolls for me. She gardened and canned and froze vegetables, not to forget the chickens and the rabbits and other animals.

You younger ones home was like a 3-ring circus with the garden, the food preservation plus a garbage business being run out of the kitchen with drivers there morning and night, Don’s musician friends, my high school friends and parties, plus your sports and activities and Mom at times was just plain worn out.

But again, cherish the good times, the popcorn and Pepsi, and devotion of our parents (in their own way). Remembering Patty’s poem: “We shared lots of secrets, the same Mom and Dad. We shared lots of good times, don’t think of the bad. Our memories we’ll cherish with love without end. I’m glad you’re my sister/brother. I’m glad you’re my friend.”

Happy Birthday, Grandma!

Down with Homework?

Down With Homework!

On top of causing stress, more homework means kids have less time for other activities. There’s less opportunity for the kind of learning that doesn’t involve traditional skills. There’s less chance to read for pleasure, make friends, play games, get some exercise, get some rest, or just be a child.

This argument would be more compelling if kids really were going to read, play games, or exercise instead of doing homework. The more likely outcome would be more consumption of brain-deadening media.

High school teacher Leslie Frothingham watched her own two children struggle with enormous quantities of homework in middle school. The value of it never seemed clear to her. “What other ‘job’ is there where you work all day, come home, have dinner, then work all night,” she asks, “unless you’re some type A attorney? It’s not a good way to live one’s life. You miss out on self-reflection, community.” Thus, when she became a teacher, she chose to have a no-homework policy.

Also, does Ms. Frothingham not know anyone in the professional world? In today's workplace many, many people have to work in the evening.

I was really disappointed by this article. I'd hoped it'd be a little more well argued.

Family Dinner

Families are definitely eating faster. According to a 2011 survey of 1,000 teens by the National Center for Substance Abuse at Columbia University, 32% of families spend 20 minutes or less eating dinner. That compares with 26% eating dinner at this pace in 2009, the prior survey year.

via Does It Count as a Family Dinner If It’s Over in Eight Minutes? – WSJ.com.

This strikes me as funny. Now that we have kids we cannot finish dinner in any less than 30 minutes.

Another reason it stinks to be a Twins fan

Harmon Killebrew and Kirby Pucket are dead. Brian Harper was our last solid catcher, and Bert Blyleven has dropped the F bomb on live TV. Can live as a Twins fan get any worse?

According to the WSJ, yes it can. In an article about the strike zone:

While umpires’ individual tendencies vary, some teams end up benefiting from blown calls more than others. The Milwaukee Brewers have benefited from 55.3% of the incorrect ball-strike calls in their games this year, an MLB high. (It hasn’t helped much: The Brewers are buried in fourth place.) The Minnesota Twins have benefited from an MLB-low 44.3% of such calls.

via The Umpire Calls That Replay Won’t Fix – WSJ.com.

Women Selling Positive Pregnancy Tests on Craigslist

Pregnant women across the country have taken to Craigslist to sell positive pregnancy tests for about $25 a pop.

Some ads suggest buyers use the tests to finally get longtime boyfriends to propose. Others suggest pranking mom and dad. And one even suggests asking for money for an abortion and then using it to go on vacation.

What kind of sick world do we live in where having a positive pregnancy test is used as a weapon?

via Women Sell Positive Pregnancy Tests on Craigslist – ABC News.