By: Revanche

Links & snippets

September 30, 2012

XKCD is one of my favorite webcomics and this interview with the creator just affirms my love.

This story about Lonni Sue, a once-accomplished illustrator, who became ill with encephalitis and lost all her memory is just chilling. She only remembers her mother and her sister and has to relearn everything, including basic life functions.

Seemed like this graduate advisor’s column on the difficulties of life as a married couple in academia could have been instructive or interesting but instead, just struck me as a little bit odd in some places. Maybe it’s just me and my huge sphere of privacy, to be broached only if you’re invited to my inner circle, but while I personally seek and heed advice given in good faith, I’m also put off by these paragraphs:

The couple didn’t consult me when they got engaged, and they haven’t asked for my guidance since. They are Midwesterners, and together they radiate a niceness that almost burns your skin. They might consider inquiries about their marital and academic status too forward; or maybe they suspect that my advice might bring them down.

Their romance is really none of my business. Still, I can’t help being intrigued by the trend they seem to represent. In the past eight years, I’ve witnessed more than a dozen graduate students take a similar plunge. The marriage rate in our department rivals our placement record. If an alien landed and surveyed our program, the creature might assume that we were operating a dating service or a fertility clinic. What’s gotten into the youth of today?

It really seemed like the goal here was more like nostalgia crossed with a Type-A’s need to control (takes one to know one) been thwarted recap of everything that’s gone wrong with the youth of today.  Just me? Have a look.

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In the decidedly less freakish, Funny About Money has identified that Time is Relative.  So. Very. True.

This is why I put up with so much less bullshit in my life and give one reason: I’m too old for this.

Speaking of being old for things, is getting laundry done amicably really such a fraught issue? Oil and Garlic shared the labor divide in her household. It works well for them. I’m just confused why chores involve wars. It’s not that PiC and I are the most patient people in the world because seriously, no. But we’re at the point where: if it gets done, and we’re both putting in what time and energy we can, then fine. NBD. Good enough. He gets 80%+ credit anyway because frankly, I can’t do an equal physical amount around here but I do all our taxes,  financial planning, negotiating, knee-busting on lowlives and hooligans, all the talkin’ and follow-up with people. To each, their strength.

Does that work for anyone else or do you need to have a strict division of labor? Or some other thing?

~~    ~~    ~~

To distract myself from the big canine medical drama that I’ll write up later, I’m working on  …..

Taxes: The things that were once fun, aren’t anymore.  My eyes are burning out as we speak, while I pore over 2011’s taxes and my brain tries to figure out who?what?where?whu?

Itemizing is a new thing in my life. Itemized PiC’s taxes for him last year. And I have now discovered that the Form 1099-G: Report of State Income Tax Refund is like a new little Devil.

Would you believe this bugger says:

“It may be taxable to you if you deducted the state or local income tax paid on Schedule A (Form 1040). Even if you did not receive the amount shown, for example, because it was credited to your state or local estimated tax, it is still taxable if it was deducted. If you received interest on this amount, you should receive Form 1099-INT for the interest.”

So: If you itemized last year and deducted it, and got a state refund, this becomes a taxable item. And if you ended up not coming out ahead, you’re still getting taxed anyway. SUCKER.

For a stupid moment, I thought, this’ll be next year’s headache, but as it turns out, nope. What a jerk.

Now I’m going down blind alley after blind alley wondering, why are you asking for all this information?  I’ve never even touched Schedule L, I can’t give you figures from that!

I’m starting to think of this tax software as a sadistic psychopath. Yes, as opposed to the soft and cuddly kind. Leave me alone. Everything is wrong in my world when taxes are horrible. They’re supposed to be fun.  Right, Kay Bell?

13 Responses to “Links & snippets”

  1. moom says:

    I didn’t see the column in the Chronicle as weird or anything. Being married to another academic and wanting a career does make things more difficult and finding a good job anywhere, let alone anywhere you want to be is hard enough already. If one is a superstar then the other might get a job through a “spousal hire” but just finding two jobs in the same place (especially as many US universities are in small towns and cities) is hard. We have managed to pull this off, which is one reason we came to this location after Snork Maiden was offered a job here. I had a lot of connections here and thought I could work out something for myself.

    On the chores we each do our own laundry apart from that I clean up after her and clean the house more generally and do finances and taxes etc. Snork Maiden cooks, does most food shopping etc.

    On the taxes, this is logical – state taxes are tax deductible, but if you get a refund that means you claimed too large a tax deduction last year and so you have to now pay tax on that income.

    I wouldn’t say taxes were fun but I feel accomplished when I work out the puzzle 🙂

    • Revanche says:

      The ideas behind the two-body problem aren’t weird, I see and understand them as valid. The part where he muses on their not coming to him and the idea of “young people getting married” as though it were outlandish, that’s a bit strange.

      Taxes: I still object on the grounds that I have already been taxed on that income, I overpaid and that’s why I got the refund in the first place. Just because I was given the money back by the state doesn’t mean that I claimed too large a deduction, it means that I overpaid the taxes and had more credits and deductions that I was eligible for but didn’t account for during the year.

  2. Sense says:

    [Oh man, sorry I have been MIA on the commenting. I have been reading, however, and hope you have felt my support through the internet!]

    Um, that article about the grad students getting married definitely overstepped the line. Sure, the guy has insight re: couples in academia, but it really is none of his business (as he says). Most grad students I know do not intend to continue in academia (actually, almost none of my friends from grad school are in academia, either).

    Re: taxes, yes, I agree. They USED to be fun. I waited til the last minute (the US deadline) this year, instead of having them ready by the end of January like usual (my actual deadline was in June or something because I’m overseas). Now that I have no hope of getting anything back (due to foreign income exclusion stuff) and with how complicated everything has gotten (ditto parenthetical above), I’m tapping out & ready to start interviewing tax accountants.

    • Revanche says:

      Thanks for reading even, considering you’re on your big vacation right now!

      You bring up a good point, too, plenty of grad students aren’t even able to stay in academia and don’t intend to because they go in knowing that it’s incredibly hard to find jobs coming out of school. To hear STEM profs lamenting in the blogosphere, there’s no point in even educating 90% of the next generation of students with the lack of academic jobs.

      Eeesh, foreign exclusions! I do not blame you one bit! Doing taxes filing jointly this year, I took 6 hours to get through the whole thing. Maybe even seven. Any more and I might possibly consider giving up the ghost and any sense of satisfaction with it.

  3. oilandgarlic says:

    Thanks for the link and comment. I to want to clarify that laundry wasn’t a war or battle between us. it just was easier to divide up and allows me to hand laundry free weekends since I can easily track my clothing needs among darks and lights. if we mixed it I just know laundry would be more frequent and neither of us enjoys doing it. for us chore division wasn’t an issue til post kids but it’s not like we are tracking percentages of who does more.

    • Revanche says:

      Oh I didn’t think that yours was at all a war, sorry if it sounded like I was implying that! But I got the impression that the people that you talked to seemed to wage one.

      • oilandgarlic says:

        No worries..I do think you brought up an interesting point re attitude. toward chores and I admit while not a war sometimes we have battled..though again only after having kids..

  4. Thanks for the mention!

    LOL! Do you suspect maybe we were too old for the bull puckey at about the age of 18 months? Why have we put up with it all these years?

    Hm…the joy of academia. One of my graduate students dropped out of the Ph.D. program after she finished the master’s, specifically because of that kind of attitude. It was made altogether too clear to her that motherhood would conflict with a career in her chosen discipline. Her reaction was to flick the metaphorical finger at them and walk away. Another one, though, made up her mind not to be pushed out (she elicited disapproval because she made no secret of her religious faith and because she kept her two young daughters on the front burner of her life — and, btw, she was an attractive and cheerful blonde). So she stuck with it. My illustrious ex-colleagues have done everything they can to make her life miserable. She persists. How she’s managed to avoid a breakdown escapes me.

    • Revanche says:

      Definitely – this is why I was so ornery when I entered the workforce. I didn’t understand why people were so … people. It took me a while to learn how to deal with that gracefully and then a little while to learn, well, heck, I don’t have to put up with the lowest levels of tomfoolery either! And away we goooo! 🙂

      The joy of being told you can’t do something because you’re a woman who chooses to exercise your ability to be a woman and a human is … hmmm… yeah. Nope. That puts my back right up and my fangs right out. I’d be the like the latter student for a while, just to rip the how-d’ye-do-there out of some folks until I got what I wanted. Then I’d go on my merry way to the next thing I wanted to achieve. Harumph. *grouchy Revanche, coming through!*

  5. That Chronicle article made me a little uncomfortable. Probably in part because of the way the couple was described – Ryan and I were married before we came into grad school, but otherwise…Moving beyond that particular description…

    I’m sure that this would come across as a petulant child, but I HAVE seen some of the issues described in the article. My advisor when I was an undergrad was divorced from another faculty member in the same department – they did manage to continue working in the same department, acting civil toward each other… unlike the couple of faculty who divorced shortly before we arrived at our grad school, who did NOT behave civilly, and eventually the wife moved on to a different job. Down the hall, I see two trailing spouses (both wives…) that continue as postdocs or assistant professors because the school won’t give them better positions (though I’ve also seen the husband as the trailing spouse). There are more couples I could talk about, and I’m sure there are many “casualties” we don’t see. But it’s not like every single academic couple we see are as awesome as Ryan’s old boss and his wife, who work down the hall from each other and share afternoon tea (almost) every day 🙂

    I think there are some good points in the article, but overall I guess I’d rather stick with seeking advice from someone who doesn’t think my Midwestern roots are cause for concern…

    Ryan may not stay in academia, so we might not be dealing with the “two body problem” much longer, at least not in the same way. But let’s face it, most types of jobs are tough to find these days. We’re certainly not above talking to our advisors, both those that are part of academic couples and those that aren’t, about our futures, though.

  6. Katie C. says:

    David and I began with a list of chores. Watching my mom do all the housework growing up, plus a large part of the yard work plus a full-time job plus helping the kids with homework, I knew I wanted a more equitable split right out of the gate.

    One advantage I see to our circumstance is that David lived on his own for 10 years before we met. He already had his laundry habits down pat, and so did I. Why fix it if it ain’t broke? We’ve always done our laundry separate, and I suspect we always will.

    We split up the chores when he first moved in and we (mostly) adhere to that. Well, we adhere to it in the sense that, when one of the chores hasn’t been done in a while, the other person points and says, “That’s your job!” In practice, it means we do the chores when we have time to do them, whether that means I mow the lawn because David just had surgery or he dusts because I haven’t gotten around to it. As long as the stuff gets done and neither one of us feels overly burdened, it doesn’t really matter who does what.

  7. sp says:

    yeah, I wasn’t a fan of the chronicle article either. all marriages will have challenges, and it seems a bit out of line to act as though the couple hadn’t thought about it or weren’t aware. i also get annoyed at these academics and their two-body problem, because i don’t find it SO much harder than any two people with big careers. T is only one academic body, but it’s already had a big impact on our marriage, and will continue to do so (positive and negative, of course). there are a few more cities that I could work in, but my experiene is clearly in one specialtily and switching isn’t trivial. but i’m way overpersonalizing the article on that count!

    We have a very similar chore attitude in our relationship. We tend to joke that we are 40/40 when it comes to chores – and the rest just never gets done, and no one cares. 🙂 someday we will have a housekeeper to pick up the slack!

  8. CA state and local taxes are a special brand of Hell.

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