On A Job I Want That No Longer Exists: Professional Letter Writer

I once had a job writing thank-you and condolence letters for various top administrators at a university. I really enjoyed writing the condolence letters, because it involved researching interesting people's lives, but the thank-you letters got a bit old. There are only but so many ways to say "Dear very rich person, thank you for increasing the amount of inequality in the world by ensuring that the business students have ever more lavish facilities while the poor suckers over in social work and education continue to be screwed." Some thank-you letters were fun to write, but in the aggregate they were just depressing.

Posted on March 24, 2014 at 12:32 pm 0

On High School Age Interns

I totally had an "internship" in high school! What happened was that I lined up a summer volunteer gig at a local non-profit, because I had a job in the mornings and was worried that I was going to be bored in the afternoons. Halfway through the summer someone told me that having an internship looked impressive on college applications, so I asked them if it was ok if I called it an internship, rather than volunteering. They were like "yeah, sure, call it whatever you want," so I put on my college application and subsequent resume that I had an internship. I have no idea whether that would fly these days or whether everything is more formalized.

Posted on March 12, 2014 at 12:02 pm 0

On 18-Year-Old Sues Parents for College Money

@TheDoctorsCompanion "But then I think about what happens when the parents can’t even afford college. In NY child support goes till your 21, does this mean children can sue for things their parents don’t even have?" That's a different issue, because if your parents are willing to fill out a FAFSA and can't pay, then you're eligible for need-based student aid. The issue is for students whose parents could pay but won't. Except in very limited circumstances, the parents' income is still taken into account for financial aid purposes and those students aren't eligible for need-based aid until they're 24. The reason that the financial aid system works this way is that a whole lot of parents would refuse to pay otherwise, but it does mean that some students end up completely SOL. And this is not an especially egregious example of that phenomenon. Some parents refuse to pay for college because their kid comes out of the closet or starts going to the wrong church.

Posted on March 5, 2014 at 2:08 pm 0

On Adult People Are Asking Other Adult People Their SAT Score in Job Interviews

I did well enough on the SATs to be a national merit finalist, and I think it's a stupid, stupid question. Also, SAT scores correlate closely with parents' income, so it tends to favor applicants from privileged backgrounds.

Posted on February 27, 2014 at 1:59 pm 0

On What One Food Item Would You Eat for the Rest of Your Life?

Oh, and I have been craving pizza all day, and that article didn't help.

Posted on February 26, 2014 at 5:57 pm 1

On What One Food Item Would You Eat for the Rest of Your Life?

@LookUponMyWorks See, I think he does have an eating disorder, and it sounds like he kind of knows it. He's seeing a therapist about it. He would like to be able to go to a restaurant that doesn't serve pizza, and he can't. I think that he's sort of developed a way of talking about it that normalizes it, but I don't think it's normal, and I feel bad for him.

Posted on February 26, 2014 at 5:56 pm 0

On Calculating the Costs: Breakfast Edition

I'm a breakfast eater. I know lots of people don't like breakfast, but I get really cranky at around 10:00 if I don't eat something first thing in the morning. I like to make baked oatmeal on Sunday and then eat it every morning for the rest of the week. This week I made Budget Bytes' apple pie baked oatmeal, which is yummy and cheap. The only problem is that it's so yummy that I have to resist the temptation to eat it when I get home from work.

Posted on February 25, 2014 at 12:25 pm 0

On How Are the MOOCs Doing?

I took one. I didn't finish it but did complete enough to get the certificate. I really enjoyed it, and I thought I learned a lot, but I think it's completely ridiculous to think of them as a replacement for college. They're more like a replacement for continuing ed, like the non-credit bike repair class that I took at the local community college.

Posted on January 27, 2014 at 5:47 pm 0

On Righteous Non-complaining and the Cost of Participation

@zb The thing is, it took a fair amount of complaining to my friends before I thought "you know what, this really is messed up, and I should stop complaining to people who can't fix it and talk to the people who have some say." It was hard to talk to the party folks about it: it meant revealing that I was in a really different financial position than they all are and assume their members to be. Before I did that, I needed confirmation that it really was a problem and reassurance that I wasn't going to be making a fool out of myself if I raised it. I think that complaining is often a precursor to taking more effective action, and a culture of righteous non-complaining has the effect of ensuring that legitimate issues never rise to the surface.

Posted on January 24, 2014 at 4:48 pm 2

On Righteous Non-complaining and the Cost of Participation

One the one hand, I see where you're coming from, and I think a lot of people whine endlessly in situations where they should just shut up and deal. On the other hand, if people never discuss or acknowledge the things that they don't like about the organizations they're members of, then they can't really change those things. And sometimes things need to be changed. I could righteously non-complain about the fact that my local Democratic party holds almost all of their events at venues that aren't accessible by public transit, and I could have chosen not to be involved in local politics when I wasn't able to get to their meetings. But complaining made them aware of the problem, and now they at least have a note on their website that invites would-be participants to contact them if they need a ride to a meeting. So which is better: me getting to feel smug about being a righteous non-complainer, or an important local institution making some small steps towards being more inclusive?

Posted on January 24, 2014 at 1:21 pm 2