Laura’s Links and Quick Thoughts

Lots going on in the background here, so just some links and quick thoughts this morning. 

Does anybody else still use Pinterest? We’re in the midst of remodeling two bathrooms, and it’s been super helpful. I’m doing a New Brooklyn sort of bathroom with retro tile, modern accents, and brightly colored walls. Here’s my bathroom Pinterest board

With too many people in my house all with very complicated schedules, I need to learn how to use a slower cooker to produce a one pot meal that isn’t too fussy. Martha has a good list of her slow cooker recipes. Better yet, I might allocate this job to one of the three dudes in this house.

More at Apt. 11D, the newsletter


33 thoughts on “Laura’s Links and Quick Thoughts

  1. You have a bunch of pedestal sinks and sinks with no counter space. DON’T DO IT. It just isn’t something you want to live with, no matter how pretty it is. I finally got rid of the pedestal sink and wish I had done it years earlier.


      1. Yes! We are struggling with finding a way to have counter space in our small bathroom. So many new vanities have big sinks on top with little space for things like water pics or somewhere to put your curling iron while it heats.


  2. The bathroom is looking great! You won’t believe how wonderful a redone bathroom is. I just had mine done last year (after 11 years in the house, even though it was something I had expected to do in the first couple of years) and I just love it.

    White pizza with spinach is awesome. Add black olives to put it over the top.


  3. If you haven’t already, check out the “Cook This, Not That” cookbook. I’ve given it to all my nieces and nephews, and my own two. The recipes are all restaurant favorites replacements and straight forward and easy. It has a little on nutrition and costs. It also has a section on crockpot cooking. I think it is well done and a great first cookbook.


    1. Instant pot cooking followed by its ‘keep warm’ function will do (way faster) a LOT of what is offered by a crock pot… There are LOTs of chirpy young women posting instant pot recipes on blogs, I have found many of them helpful – one of the best instant pot guides, also, is the blog of Kenji Lopez-Alt ( who also talks a lot about sous vide and about why recipes work as they do.


  4. I echo Dave’s remark about the Instant Pot. That’s how I do a lot of my soups these days. Plus it’s great for dried beans, and for making really great beef stock from the bones. Although the Serious Eats caramelized onions have been degraded, I still make them and then continue straight to french onion soup.

    As someone who has used either a slow cooker or the Instant pot at least 2/7 days for over 15 years thanks to being a two working parent family with multiple evening obligations, I can share that all the best recipes are the ones where “low and slow” is a feature, not a bug – chilis, curries, pulled pork/jackfruit, pork/chicken adobo, butter chicken (on the bone), pea soup, etc.

    Trying to adapt things like boneless chicken breast or pasta that will dry out or go limp hasn’t worked that well for us, and for me if it’s a multi-step slow cooker recipe it doesn’t meet my needs. Also be careful with cauliflower and broccoli; they can really overpower a dish if they cook too long.

    Because I timeshift cooking so often, I also have my robot army that works in tandem – bread maker and rice cooker (which can do any grains). So we’ll have pea soup + warm fresh bread, or thai tofu curry + rice or barley or quinoa, etc. I think that might be next-level from one day a week here and there but that also makes a difference.


  5. I’ve seen too many people in their late 50s spend years on the job market to get a job that pays significantly less than they earned before (like 50%). Unless you are going to do something about age discrimination you can’t just blithely raise the retirement age. There’s plenty of age discrimination in Europe just like here. Elon Musk has the nerve to act like it’s all about laziness when those pictures of him with his staff during the Twitter takeover didn’t include anyone who looked over 50.


    1. I find money articles about how people manage their money fascinating, and always have (anyone else remember the Money magazine articles?). I think finding jobs after 50 (and, in the case of Musk companies, any time after you aren’t going to devote your life to the job, or they fear you won’t) is going to be hard. On the other hand, I think the worker/retiree ratios are getting to be problematic in systems where the retirees are relying on other working individuals to fund their retirement. Just raising taxes won’t solve that problem.

      The Wall Street Journal had an article about French retirees that mentioned, in passing, that a number of the retirees they profiled as being “well off” had substantial investments (rental properties for example) and were couples where both had worked for a long number of years. Say, a 55 year old who had started work at 15 and worked for 40 years.

      I don’t think any of the democracies currently facing eruptions have simple solutions to offer and that long term decisions and expectations have been brought out by near (and longer term) changes in the world.


      1. The people who vocally advocate pushing back the retirement age are, almost without exception (1) white collar professionals who (2) have careers they find enjoyable and fulfilling. Ignored are the blue collar workers who have jobs that take a massive physical toll. For many of them, having to work into their late 60s is, if not impossible, at least terribly unpleasant. It’s one thing to advocate later retirement from the comfort of your desk, but I wager that those people would be singing a different tune if they had to write their think pieces after just a week of crawling into attics to do HVAC work in the middle of the summer.

        Indeed, many professions would benefit from a mandatory retirement age. In the not so recent past, state universities forced their faculty to take emeritus status at 60 or 65. That they don’t do this is responsible for not all but much of the dearth of tenure line positions for junior faculty, while they go on and on with progressively worse teaching and diminished research output into their 80s.


      2. I’m in my early 50s and looking at a move back to a desk job, with mixed feelings about it. My time in local and small business has given me a lot and also let me contribute a lot. But I can see it getting progressively harder on a variety of fronts, including physically. I feel like it’s getting to a “now or never” point for me age-wise.

        Right now I’m applying solely to unionized workplaces – even though that doesn’t solve anything straight up, I feel like I’m less likely to get pushed out in a few years. My 20+ years in media where I was getting old at 44 weighs on my mental space quite a bit. The good news is so far I’ve applied to a whopping 3 jobs and have interviews scheduled for 2.

        My resume has most of the age identifying items removed though, so a lot rests on after the interview. I’m debating whether I get my hair dyed (it’s streaked with grey) before Monday’s interview. I *love* it right now, both the low maintenance and it just suits me, but it is definitely putting me in the older lady category.


      3. Seconding Jay, please note that many physically demanding jobs that are unionized have a 30 and out feature — you can retire after 30 years with a full pension. If that were more universal, the problem of physical breakdown would be avoided in a raised retirement age for non-physically-challenging jobs.

        And I thnk, in order to make a raised retirement age more fair, you would also need to have a pipeline to less-physically challenging jobs for everyone. With no loss of income. Not sure how that would work, but there is no reason it could not happen. My brother-in-law who was an ironworker moved into being an estimator, for example.


  6. I think the Western world is slowly moving towards a Universal Basic Income. It would solve a lot of these problems for people with disabilities and older folks.


  7. Steve has a desk job. Not physically demanding. He’s not lifting heavy beams, but it is extremely demanding in other ways. He puts in 12-hour days, every day, with 4 weeks of PTO per year (personal days, sick day, vacation days are all mushed together). He has to work until 66 if we want to retire in our current home — a home that gives us plenty of room for our disabled son and is in a town with a train line. He has no idea how he’ll be able to maintain that energy for another 12 years. And he has no idea whether he’ll even be employed by that point. Companies, like his, routinely fire the older workers. He has no pension at all. Just a 401K plan.

    IDK. Nobody has a great situation.


    1. The firing in his field (if I remember right) is real. We have that sense with my husband too – he works for a company who is famous for it.

      I think we all need to band together to create a smart retirement coop community with room for adult kids. 🙂


    2. But if no one is in a great situation, how do we allocate/reallocate resources to allow earlier retirement, adequate health coverage, appropriate education, access to medications? Especially when it all costs more, because we are getting more of all of those things. People live longer, more beneficial health care exists, our standards of education, for all, are higher, and there are expensive miracle drugs.

      There’s also immigration, which improves the worker/retiree ratios (in the receiving countries — and, it might not have a huge effect on the sending countries, as long as the life expectancies in those countries continues to lag).

      But also, those of us who relatively better off, even if not in a great situation, are going to have to downsize.


      1. Cocaine Bear is a good reminder of how much better things were in the 80s if you didn’t encounter a bear on cocaine.


      2. I don’t buy uncritically the narrative that we are headed for a geriatric cliff. For one thing, the massive productivity gains we have made have more than made up for the decrease in ratios of employed to retired. We should have more than enough to maintain a robust safety net and pension system. One primary reason we don’t is because the gains from higher productivity were instead diverted to the financial industry, who has succeeded in diverting this river of money that flows through our economy and scooping out massive amounts of it, while not providing any benefits that didn’t exist when banks were merely institutions that borrowed money at four percent and lent money at five percent.

        In any case, there is another competing narrative that is big right now, which is that the new AI will eat all the jobs. Well, which is it? Are computers going to take all our jobs and nobody will have any work to do or will the tsunami of old folx swamp the few remaining workers? It is not inevitable that either would come to pass but there is no future in which these dystopias can coexist.


    3. I think the Greek system had the right idea – earlier retirement for physically demanding/dangerous jobs. It was then gamed outrageously (‘hairdresser’ got early retirement because of exposure to hair dyes) and was a factor in their financial collapse I think. And it would be hard to deal with the enormous number of differentiable jobs here – auto mechanic different between electric cars and gasoline? what is someone who controls robot pickers in a warehouse? I worked to 70 (I actually retired when I did because my mother needed me, otherwise might have lasted couple-three years more) and my pension is larger because of it, but I wrote and answered inquiries, I didn’t carry hods.


  8. I have several Boomer relatives who retired into building and managing some vacation cabins.

    They finally found somebody to do the heavy cleaning for them, but for a while, there was a crew of 2-3 of them (one 60-something and two 70-somethings) industriously cleaning cabins, making them pretty for guests, and sweating to keep their rating up.

    As a 40-something who feels TIRED a lot, I was agog.

    Thank goodness they’ve finally found somebody to do the cleaning for them–although there have to be times when they have to pick up slack.


    1. I remembered this about your relatives when the topic came up. Different people clearly have different energy that they can commit to different things as well as different skills and desires.

      I have also seen people who do cognitive labor who retired early because of disabilities and many who retired early because, as others have pointed out, employers do not want older more expensive workers and find ways to ease them out unless their value is very clearly measurable (a rainmaker), the older worker has significant decision making power in the organization (a CEO, high level manager, . . . .), or they have some form of legal protection (real tenure, unions, . . . .).


  9. “One primary reason we don’t is because the gains from higher productivity were instead diverted to the financial industry,”

    I agree that some of the dystopian thinkpieces inevitably ignore parts of the system — my reading of this is how the productivity gains were distributed rather than spotlighting the financial industry specifically (though I do think the FI has offered products promising risk management that are largely unreliable, with little damage and yet great gain to them). Productivity gains measured in millions of people producing content for social media (and blogs) that grew the internet but were captured largely by the big guys are an example as well.

    So, I agree that many of the “Social Security” essays are fear mongering in order to get desired results. Utilitarian/efficient economic theoreticians aided by those who want government smaller, or vice versa (and who think fundamental human characteristics and behavior are more rational than they are and ignore widespread systemic effects of history/unfair games) think they can use the fear to get what they want. But, I also think some of the fixes are non-transparent as well.

    For example, AI replacing everything and the workforce not being able to support the old folks are not inconsistent — AI has the capital generating the performance gains at the expense of labor unless we change our system.

    Desmond’s Poverty in America is discussing some of these modern systemic political/economic thoughts (and the NYTimes pieces by Desmond ended by saying that non-dystopian future depends on contributions/changes from all of us). Maybe I’ll have more coherent thoughts after reading.


    1. On Social Security, you’re way too nice. Anyone who thinks they are going to cut SS or hamstring Medicare right before I’m able to draw on them and enjoy a peaceful retirement because those cuts don’t apply to people born ten years before me is seriously deluded.


    2. Well, you live in PA, so your opinion might matter :-).

      I’ve been reading some of the more substantive articles — most recently because I read this article: What Old and Young Americans Owe One Another in the New York Times. I thought the framing was good: “Gratitude should lead us to make sure that older Americans can live comfortably in retirement. Solicitude should lead us to do so in ways that do not needlessly leave the next generation less prosperous than it could be.”

      But then I realized the author was misleading me (along with his American Enterprise Institute colleague, Biggs) in avoiding numbers in talking about his “solution” (which is just the last few paragraphs). He avoided discussing Medicare at all (and Medicare is the less solvent, even more open-ended money user) and then linked to a reference that involves decreasing benefits for most SS recipients (by providing them with benefits at the national poverty level — about 12K/year for an individual). So, I agree that I’m being more generous than I should be about people who are talking about cutting social security but pretending to save the system (not quite as bad as bombing the city to save it, but they are pretty close).

      I will be judging social security arguments (I suspect no actual changes are possible without subterfuge or catastrophy, and neither will be solutions) not on the basis of what I will collect (though I’m not going to wait until I’m of “retirement age”, as all the financial advice suggests — I’ll bet on dying before I turn 100 rather than the available of SS when I do), but on the numbers.


  10. I also do not read AI thought pieces that predict the end of work, except that to warn all young people that there is no stability in the future by choices we make now and citing the words from David Brooks’ column “Major in Being Human”. Then they have to take that major and work to make the word better for humans (which includes laws and economics and companies and coalitions).

    And, that’s true for the CS majors, too. My engineer father still thinks that being an engineer/CS major might produce more stability, but even he said in our last conversation that you have to be the kind of CS major who is always looking for change (not a code generator) (and, my dad was thanked, once, by a former student my dad encountered in the wild that the former student believed he had never been laid off because my dad had taught in the class that one should be prepared for change )

    I thought the Brooks’ article had “zag where others zig” in it as a way to cope with AI, but, I can’t find it now.


  11. Also, I just tried to get Chat GPT to write an article about Perez v Sturgis to compare to Laura’s article, and it failed miserably at my goal. It made stuff up that, if you didn’t realize it was making stuff up, would implicate individuals (an Officer Sturgis) and make you think that qualified immunity would be overruled. I think it was making up what an article might look like? And, if you try to ask what the supreme court decided, it hits a legal advice wall and won’t tell you the answer.

    It generated a pretty good quiz about the Krebs cycle, though. So, I think that AI is closer to replacing scientists (or maybe more accurately teachers of science) than teachers of supreme court decisions (or politics) and lawyers.


    1. bj said, “It made stuff up that.”

      I keep hearing this!

      I was listening to a Russian-language Ukrainian roundtable on Chat GPT, and one of the participants summarized it as being polite and dishonest–or something along those lines.

      This is not what I was expecting AI to be like! I thought it would be honest to a fault, like various classic sci-fi AI characters.


      1. And that’s the most dangerous thing, that we are assuming new technologies will conform to our dreams, rather than observed behavior. Although, a lot of classic sci-fi stories are cautionary tales.

        Open the pod bay doors, please, HAL. Open the pod bay doors, please, HAL. Hello, HAL. Do you read me? Hello, HAL. Do you read me? Do you read me, HAL?


    2. “one of the participants summarized it as being polite and dishonest–or something along those lines.”

      Yes, and, I’ll ad, like “cargo cult science” ala Feynman — it looked and acted like a newspaper article (I asked it to write a newspaper article) and the facts could have been true (say, there is even an Officer Sturgis in Elmwood), but weren’t.

      The Krebs cycle article was accurate and even added some of the unasked but relevant information of pointing out that the Krebs cycle doesn’t produces only a part of the ATP but that it is the first step of the oxidative phosphorylation that produces the 30-32 ATP molecules of the “burning” of glucose in mitochondria that makes the energy conversion so efficient.


Comments are closed.