Round-up: Trees, Mike Huckabee, Mayer-rama

I’m taking a vacation from blogging next week, so I’ll be recycling some old posts from the archives. It turns out I’ve been blogging for three years. There is a lot of fodder. It’s fun to see how I’ve changed and not changed, as I think about topics more and as the audience for this blog grows. News from this week:

Over at USA Today, I write about “Trees: What a Powerful Knockout.” A high percentage of blackouts stem from tree branches falling on power lines. One solution? Trim aggressively, but homeowners hate this (sure enough, on cue, the Washington Post followed up its stories complaining about Pepco’s recent outage with a piece featuring residents’ complaints about Pepco’s aggressive trimming of cherry trees). You can put the lines underground, but that’s 10 times as expensive as above ground, and outages last longer (since workers can’t quickly see and diagnose the problem). So, long term, the best solution is to put the right tree in the right place. I have a quirky and long-standing interest in both botany and energy sources, so I found this piece a lot of fun to write.

At Women & Co, I profile Angela Jia Kim, founder of the Savor the Success network, and write about a day in her life.

I was on Mike Huckabee’s radio show, yakking with the governor about Marissa Mayer, and What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. You can listen to the clip here.

Kim Palmer writes about the cost of having children, in light of the USDA’s annual report, and quotes me in her piece at US News & World Report. I like her story, but I also think there’s a fun story to be written about omitted variables. Kim asked me, first, why the cost of raising a child was rising faster than inflation. Certainly, raising a child is expensive. But one reason these indices move at different rates is that the government’s core inflation index excludes food and energy costs (since these are perceived as highly variable). The USDA cost to raise a child index includes food and transportation costs (gas being a large input here). So, since food and gas prices rose quite a bit in 2011, the 2011 figures for the USDA index will naturally be higher than core inflation. One other point: one reason the USDA number has risen since 1960 is that many families now have childcare costs. But this is a complicated variable, because the reason people have childcare costs is that more mothers are working. The opportunity cost of a mother’s time wasn’t counted as part of the cost of raising a child in 1960 (it isn’t now, either), so child-raising looks more expensive now, but this is just because the cost is visible.

Lots of posts over at CBS MoneyWatch this week as I file double before taking a vacation. My favorite may be “How to become a $600K per year supertemp.

I have been amused by the wide variety of takes on Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s pregnancy. My favorite may be Amanda Steinberg’s open letter to Mayer over at DailyWorth’s “MoreWorth” section. Amanda started DailyWorth the same week she gave birth to her second kid, and has now raised $3 million in capital for the venture. My favorite line? “Sometimes, when people ask, “Isn’t it awful that you weren’t there to see him eat his first peas?”, you might feel indifferent. Actually, I was pounding through a $700M deal, and I’m not really all that torn up about missing his peas. But you won’t want to LOOK like the mom that doesn’t care, so you’ll smile and feign remorse and it will be weird.” As Amanda puts it, “There are 168 hours in a week, and it’s possible to make time for snuggling and conference calls.” Amen. That  acknowledgment that there is plenty of time to be an awesome mother and businesswoman, and just because you didn’t do it (or your cousin) doesn’t mean it can’t be done is missing from the piece that probably irked me most, Pundit Mom’s Six Pieces of Advice for Marissa Mayer. Especially this line: “Why would I outsource caring for the one person who means [the] most to me in the world?” Newsflash: There are 168 hours in a week! Even if you work more than full time, even if you have a full time nanny (and, perhaps, a husband who covers lots of the rest? why do people not ask about him?), you still spend a lot of time caring for your children. Life doesn’t only happen during business hours. Especially if your kids are like mine and stay up late.


4 thoughts on “Round-up: Trees, Mike Huckabee, Mayer-rama

  1. So sorry you were irked. I work full time and am a parent, but maybe you didn’t know that since you probably don’t read my work much. You missed my point — no one can know what their own individual parenting experience will be, so it’s disingenuous to step up and say, “Hey, nothing will change!”

    Did you miss the part where I said I thought the same things as Mayer? That I would stay in my job and hire a nanny. And that’s OK for a variety of people. I was and am fortunate that I was able to reconfigure my work life, since I am a journalist and an attorney. Lots of people don’t have that luxury. But to the real point — we each have to focus on what our own personal priorities are and stop judging other people for their choices, or how they choose to use their 168 hours. But I suspect you really know that.

    1. Joanne: I take issue with the idea that we can’t have ideas about what our parenting experience will be. Sure, special needs and medical emergencies can change things. I wrote a piece prior to having my first child about how I anticipated working after he was born, and got slammed with responses that were much like yours: you have no idea. But all went well and, in fact, just as I had anticipated, working was still what I wanted to do. I wasn’t torn up about it at all and never have been. Not all moms consider putting their hair in a ponytail to be the “motherhood equivalent of primping to go out.” Or are chronically sleep deprived, as you wrote in the section on Sheryl Sandberg. I’ve had hundreds of people keep time logs for me, and have had several high-level executive women with young children do so as part of that. They log 7-8 hours of sleep a night. You certainly can have a major career, spend lots of time with your kids and sleep — because I see it in these logs all the time. When I was a young woman pondering starting my family, I was nervous because of so many posts like this claiming that I’d be torn about working, want to scale down my career, I’d consider a ponytail high-fashion and I’d never sleep. None have turned out to be true. I recognize that other people may have different experiences, but probably one of the reasons we consider it so newsworthy to have a pregnant CEO is that people have made motherhood out to be this total self-crushing experience.

      1. Ditto to Laura Vanderkam. If anything, my work experience post-partum last time was easier than I’d anticipated (after the fog of the first two weeks passed). Yes, I lost my hobbies for a few years, but did not short-change work or kids. It was all just like Francine Blau said it would be– my kid became my hobby.
        Also, I think people need to just start minding the hell their own business. Folks obviously have too much free time if they’ve got time to pass judgment on how other people allocate their schedules.
        Yes, I’m in a bad mood today.

  2. All I can say about this is I work 45 hours a week. and I parent A LOT. And if I spent any more time with the kids, MY kids, I’d be completely nuts. I love them, but I work a lot and we still go to the pool three nights a week they never go to bed (well at least one doesn’t) so I feel like we have PLENTY of time. Interestingly I don’t feel this way about my job. Monday morning at my desk is a vacation. And I do feel like if I could more time in I’d make more $ and I long for that both the time in the work, if not the money, but I feel a glad and good feeling when they go off in the morning to our very middle class, good but not stellar daycare on some days or to the variety of grandma and me higher end library days and activities I schedule for them. I feel happy when they leave me and happy at the end of the day…

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