Monday, March 11, 2013

Mini Rants

I had a rough day at work, I broke one of my favorite earrings tonight, and the kids were little nightmares at the end of the evening because of the whole daylight savings issue- tired, but not sleepy, etc., etc. So I feel like letting some little rants out into the world. We will return to our usual happy, upbeat programming tomorrow. Or Wednesday. Or sometime soon.


I can not accurately convey how little I care about whether or not any other woman changes her name when she gets married.

Last week, the discussion of this topic was all over my Twitter stream and some of the blogs I read (and like!) and all I could think is: Really? With all the issues facing women today, this is the one we're going to fight now?

Don't get me wrong: I did not change my name when I got married and I'm grateful for the feminists before me who fought that battle and made that an option.

And I get that there is still work to be done normalizing that as an option in some circles.

But still, I'd prioritize equal pay, real maternity leave, better protections for breastfeeding women in the workplace and out in public, more women in C-level jobs, better awareness of/protections against rape and domestic violence, and end to the stereotype that women aren't "good" at math and science, and probably at least five other things that aren't coming to mind right now over the issue of whether or not a woman who changes her name when she gets married is still a feminist, or even work towards further normalizing the idea that a woman does not need to change her name when she gets married.

Heck, I'd change my name right now for equal pay and a promise that no one would ever again try to tell me that the reason there aren't more women in STEM fields is that girls just don't like/aren't good at those subjects.

And sure, I get that the name change situation is a symptom of a larger culture that minimizes women and their identities and their contributions... but that's just it. It is a symptom, and not even a very annoying one, really. I'd rather we tackle the causes, or at least the more annoying symptoms.

But that's just me. If you want to fight the good fight about women not changing their name when they get married, carry on.


To all the various people yelling that businesses "should" do something- be it allowing workers to work from home, or paying for better health care for their workers, or reducing their environmental impact, or anything, really:

Businesses do things based on business cases, not vague "shoulds." Sure, sometimes a business leader thinks something is the moral or right thing to do, and just does it, and hooray for them. Except, of course, when I disagree with whatever they decide is the moral or right thing to do.... (Yeah, I'm looking at you, Chick-fil-A.)

If there is something you think a business should do that they aren't doing? Try making a business case for it. As in, try to explain why doing this thing will make the business more money. Because- news flash!- that's what businesses exist to do. Make money.

And if there are things we as a society want to have businesses do, but that won't make businesses more money? Well, that's why we have government. We make laws, and then the business case is "breaking laws is risky/potentially expensive." (And yes, I realize this hasn't worked so well in the past, but I'd argue that is a problem with weak laws/weak penalties/weak enforcement, not a problem with the general idea that laws are a way to change things.)

Other things we can try: moral outrage/shaming, consumer boycotts... but really, in most cases, laws are the most effective.


A little bit more about expecting businesses to provide things that are in the public good... I think this is a big part of why our health care system is so completely screwed up here in the US, even for people like me, who are rich and have employer-provided health insurance. Think about it: the people who make the decisions about what insurance options I have available have to make a business case for the options they choose. I think this skews the market. The people making the decisions are optimizing on price and the appearance of good coverage (to keep the employees happy). And so I end up with plans that cover all sorts of extra fluff I don't want or need (discounts at gyms that have no location within 20 miles of my house, 20 acupuncture visits a year, and whatnot) but that make me jump through 8 different hoops to get the nasal steroids that DON'T make my nose bleed. Or maybe I'm supposed to try acupuncture for the nosebleeds?


WTF is with these "build a basket of random crap to auction off" fundraisers? Pumpkin's school is doing one, and we've been guilted into contributing to a basket, but it just seems like the least efficient way to raise money ever. All the parents buy some crap to put in the basket and then there is a silent auction among the parents to buy the baskets full of random crap. I really doubt that the baskets will be auctioned for an amount that covers the cost of the random crap in them. Wouldn't it be much more effective (and less time-consuming!) for all of us parents just to write the school a check for whatever amount we can contribute?

I guess this is supposed to be a "fun" fundraiser and get more parents involved. The illogical nature of it really bugs me, though.


Somebody keeps parking waaaay too close to my car at work. It is always the same car that does it, and they leave me so little space that one day I had to climb in from the passenger side. Part of me wants to figure out who it is so that I can hate them. Part of me thinks it is probably better if I never know, since whoever it is, I have to work with him/her.

The rational grown up part of me will just start parking in a different area of the parking lot.


Add your own mini rants in the comments!


  1. Cecilia2:30 AM

    My daughter started school this year, southern hemisphere... We are currently buying easter eggs, to put in baskets at school for raffle prizes that we are selling tickets for..... And I'll probably end up buying the large majority of our allocated tickets. I'd lve to just hand over $20 and be done,

    1. I don't know anything about your school, but that is a viable option at ours. No one ever tells you that, but I've just said to the teacher, "No, thanks. We aren't coming, don't give us tickets, here is a check made out to the school." They're happy, I'm happy, and I didn't waste a bunch of time or buy crap no one needs!

      W.S., wonderful rants!

    2. The thing that really kills me about this fundraiser is that at the beginning of the year they had a donation drive and said that would be the only fundraiser. So we wrote a nice big check and thought we were done! Ha! It turns out they just meant that they wouldn't ask the kids to sell candy or wrapping paper or anything.

  2. At my kids' school, the children *make* something (on school time, all together) that is then auctioned off. I still can't see why I would pay $50 for a tchochtky made by a bunch of 4 y.o.s, but at least I don't have to participate, or fund it in any way. I do not want to be involved.

    I agree with the gov't/business/health care stuff. Whenever someone says businesses should provide paid maternity leave, I'm like, umm, never going to happen, and also, should they? Like health care, I think that's a gov't responsibility. Businesses can kick in maybe, to extend leave or provide some salary, but expecting businesses to provide this is absurd.

    Normally, I am pretty rant-y, but today I'm abroad, am getting plenty of sleep, working, eating well, no kids. No complaints. Except the rain!

    1. Oooh! Enjoy your trip.

    2. I second Erin's comment and Cloud's rant. We are so fearful of "big" government that we fail to realize only the government can enact laws for real change in terms of major stuff like health care/maternity leave. Businesses won't do it unless everyone has to, which would level the playing field and not "penalize" those who allow longer leaves etc..

    3. One addition, though- Google recently DID lengthen their maternity leaves, because they had a staff retention problem. But that was a case in which they gathered the data, made a business case, and made the change. I still think that if we want universal maternity leave, we'll need to legislate it.

    4. Anonymous12:26 PM

      Add to that that there's always a worry that mandate will hurt the people they're intended to help. Depending on how maternity leave is structured (who pays for it, gov't or company? do men have to take leave? do men get to take leave?), it could lead to employers preferring to hire male employees to female all things equal, because they will potentially cost less, and hiring discrimination is very difficult to prove.

    5. I'd vote for a certain amount of family leave time per child - let's say up to 6 months, that can be used by one person, or two people divided however the people choose. That way men and women are both eligible but no one is required to take a certain amount of time just to use the benefit. If men have it available, more will take it and it might ease the potential discrimination angle.

    6. the milliner8:10 PM

      What @Erin describes is pretty much what we have here in Canada. There is a certain amount of maternity leave (16 weeks if I remember correctly), and there is a certain amount of paternity leave (4 weeks maybe? can't remember) and the rest is parental leave that can be taken by the mother or father (maybe 30 or 36 weeks...all is so foggy...5 years ago for us!).

      So, all this is fantastic. Though I'd imagine that in the majority of the cases the mother takes the majority of the leave. BUT, we have the luxury of having the option.

      And, all that being said, and though I am very happy we have a government backed system instead of a private system, we still have our issues. In our province, it's impossible to get a family doctor for many, many people. It took me 5 years before I got one, and even then it was just because it was DH's doctor. And the only reason DH got this family doctor is because he's an 'interesting case' (heart transplant).

      But yeah, still very happy with our system (and grateful for the things we DO have) even if it's not what it used to be when I was growing up.

  3. Anonymous6:12 AM

    The acupuncture thing is probably California's fault. It's a state mandate in many states.

    I 100% agree with you on the private provision of public goods thing (that's the technical jargon for what you're talking about). Business will *always* underprovide public goods. There's economic proofs that show this. (If you can make a business case for it, then it isn't a public good, btw.)

    I think there's been a recent political shift wherein tea partiers somehow think that businesses are warm and fuzzy and act like government and thus don't need government intervention... but that is about as true now as it was in the late 19th/early 20th centuries. And for the same reasons as now-- to buy political power. In the end it doesn't work and you get the New Deal.

    If you find out who owns the car, you can ask them not to park so close. In fact, you could leave them a signed note.

    Those fundraisers that cost more than they bring in and take effort drive me nuts. We do have a very nice modernistic painting that DC1's preschool class did as a group when he was 3. You know those paintings where you say, "it looks like a bunch of preschoolers splashed paint on the canvas"? Turns out preschoolers can make them too.

    1. Gah! So states will mandate extra coverage like acupuncture but not mandate that everyone should have basic coverage??? We are such a such a screwed up country.

      The problem with finding out who owns the car is that then I would always think of them as a jerk who parks too close. And what if it is someone I have to collaborate with? I'm leaning towards deciding I need more exercise and parking out in a more distant spot.

    2. Anonymous7:27 AM

      The extra coverage like acupuncture only covers employer-sponsored plans. Under ERISA it cannot cover plans in the private market. Sometimes these mandates are good ideas because they save everybody money and fix a failure in the private market. Sometimes they increase moral hazard. Sometimes they don't have an effect at all. Mandating that everybody have basic coverage like MA did is a lot more difficult of a proposition.

      If they apologize and had no idea and change their behavior, wouldn't that make them no longer a jerk? But if you're not assigned parking spots, avoiding also makes sense.

  4. Can you leave an "fyi" note on their car. Like a "hey, I know these spots are kinda tight, but I had to use my passenger side so as to avoid dinging your car with my door.

    We have similar fundraising events with our daughter's school. Fortunately, we're also disconnected enough to be oblivious as to whether there's any sort of negative talk towards parents who just write checks instead. We pick-and-choose the events/functions that line up with our family priorities. (So the pancake dinner we went to as a family and met up with other family friends lined up with our priority for family dinners and building connection with friends. The night where if you went to Chick-fil-a the restaurant would give a small donation to the school... not so much.)

  5. We still have a few weeks before DLS starts here .Falls handily when we go back to Italy where there is that 1 hour time difference.

    As for the fundrasing, a nice thing our school does is for parents to offer/donate a service, like a night of free babysitting, or gardening, or an hour of maths tuition or 1/2 hour massage etc, which is then auctioned.Beats the usual hamper or used toys, and brings in a nice sum for the school.

  6. Awesome rant. Amen - WHO CARES about name changing?! I saw that this week, too, and I even participated in a blog discussion where seemingly intelligent people disagreed with me. It's not a feminist litmus test, people! Gah!!

    Also, I really don't recommend you leave this type of note on the offending parker's car:

    Nope, I don't recommend that at all. (Unless, of course, it's your last day on the job and nobody's looking).

    Don't even get me started on school fundraising. Here's my check, now go away.

  7. Rant: I hate every single school fundraiser I've ever seen. We also do the "random baskets of crap." What I really hate are the crap the kids are supposed to sell to other people. I don't impose them on my neighbors or workmates, but I always feel compelled to buy them from the kids myself, so we buy awful Little Caesar's pizza-making kits (the worse pizza ever), as well as awful cans of popcorn or cookie dough or other sugary-fat crap. The pizza is really the worse, though.

    1. Anonymous8:33 PM

      We just give a check without buying anything.

    2. the milliner8:19 PM

      Us too...I'd rather pay to keep the crap out of my house.

  8. I've left polite notes on coworkers car re: the parking issue, signed (of course) and providing my email address in case they want to discuss further. So far no one's boxed me in twice with the same car, so maybe it's working ;)

    The worst was when I parked next to a wall, and the other guy was too close on the driver's side AND I was 8 months pregnant. Luckily TJ was home and just picked me up, and we got my car later in the evening :(

    1. I had something similar happen when I was ~7 months pregnant with Pumpkin. I got boxed in on both sides, and there really is no squeezing when you're that pregnant. I had a hatchback at the time, so I ended up climbing in from the back.

  9. the milliner8:27 PM

    With you on the name thing. Just don't care. Priorities elsewhere. In our province, women automatically keep their maiden names. You have to pay and apply to have your name changed to your husband's (or vice versa I suppose). So, it becomes more of a non-issue here.

    We've given DS my last name instead of DH's (it's the norm to give the husband's last name to the kids, so, in a way, same issue). But again, I don't care (about what last name other people give to their kids). We happened to give DS my last name because DH really wanted to. I didn't have a preference (other than hyphenation, which would have been my preference if we both didn't have long last names).

  10. the milliner8:35 PM

    So, I'm a little late to the party, but I'm going to give you my mini rant(s) anyway.

    1st: So, our company is laying off 10% of it's workforce, primarily in our head office which I work at. Rumor has it that our department's turn is coming tomorrow. Or Friday. Or next week (depending on who you talk to). I wish they'd just get it all over with. I don't even effing care what happens anymore (ok, well I'll care if I get sacked without a package of at least 5 months to find a new job). So many issues are coming up on the project we're working on now (a nightmare in it's own right for other reasons beyond our control) that my answer in the last few days, to the inevitable issues that arrive, has often been 'whatever' or 'we're not reinventing the wheel here, we just need to get the damn X approved'. I didn't realise how much I was saying it until my project coordinator says "You know there's a big problem when the milliner says 'we're not reinventing the wheel here'. Argh! Let it be done already!!

    2nd: Blogger annoys me that I cannot correct or revise my text in a blog comment, when I'm on my phone or iPad, without it being a major PITA. I would comment more often if this didn't happen.

    That is all...thanks for the space to vent!!

    1. @the milliner - Hang in there! Layoffs suuuuck.

    2. I'm sorry Blogger is a pain. One of my long term ideas is to migrate to a different platform... but that has yet to make it to the top of the projects priority list!

      I hope the layoff uncertainty is settled soon. I agree with @hush. Layoffs suck.

  11. Thanks @hush & @cloud. Well, as it turns out, I got the axe today. With a decent package happily. My brain is a emotionally fried, but I'm kind of looking forward to having my days to do stuff for a while. Lunches! Massages! Days at the spa! De-cluttering the house! Going to yoga! Doing stuff I hate to do at night because I'm so tired, but will happily do during the day! And oh yeah, find a new job. :)

    re: Blogger: I'm actually hoping that Blogger will fix the situation. I mean, I can't be the only one reading/commenting on blogs from an iPad!!

    Have a good weekend.

    1. I'm sorry you were laid off, but glad you finally got the answer. I hope you have a week or two to just rest before going out on the job hunt.

  12. Anonymous12:54 PM

    Very mini rant: Google is getting rid of Google Reader!


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