Re: ATM: Refinance school loans?

1

Don't. You have more protections with the public loans. If you lies your job, you can go on IBR. Just don't.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 2-15 1:44 PM
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I assume there's a significant rate drop based on the more favorable terms. Is there any way to get that rate improvement while still staying in a gov't program? I luckily don't know jack about student loans but you're allowed to refinance once under the gov't backing, right?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04- 2-15 1:57 PM
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I wouldn't want to recommend this without spreadsheeting it, but if the monthly savings are significant, you might set up a direct debit to put the money you save every month into an interest-bearing account, the student loan emergency fund, to be tapped in case you lose your job or suffer some other misfortune. It won't protect you from every hazard, but every month you will be a little safer until one day there is enough in the account to pay off the balance of the loan early, thus saving even more money.


Posted by: Knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 2-15 2:06 PM
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If you pay less, how will you fully expiate the sin of graduate study?


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04- 2-15 2:07 PM
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2: Not to my knowledge. I think there can be consolidation but the rates don't effectively change.

3: Not enough monthly savings to ever get to pay off much early that way - unless I just paid the minimum and saved the entire balance, but that means more interest paid over time. My emergency savings are pretty substantial, though.


Posted by: President Miloš Zeman | Link to this comment | 04- 2-15 2:48 PM
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Maybe everyone knows this, but I've learned that if you have multiple student loans at the same interest and pay the 10-year repayment plan minimum on all of them every month, but also pick one loan to pay extra for, you end up with a reduction in your monthly total minimum once that loan is paid off.

Unless another arrangement is possible, my understanding is your minimum payment for each loan stays the same no matter how far ahead you get of the payment plan. At the start, I distributed my extra payments across the loans and saw no reduction. Now I'm targeting them one by one. Ultimately I'll repay the same amount, but it's nice to have to pay less per month on months when I can't overpay.

Now someone will tell me my math is wrong.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 2-15 2:50 PM
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The linked write up of that company mentions a Citigroup guy as a major investor. Based on no actual knowledge, I see that as a red flag.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 2-15 2:55 PM
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6 - We're doing the same in my household, except that our portfolio (ha!) has widely varying interest rates, like 2.5% on the low end and 7.5% on the high end. Putting the low rate loans on an extended repayment plan and using the monthly savings to pay off the high interest ones faster means we pay less in the long run. Arbitrage!


Posted by: Lambent Cactus | Link to this comment | 04- 2-15 3:06 PM
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I don't know much about this (undergrad loans were deferred in grad school; put aside the money as if they weren't; paid it off in full after graduation), but if I were figuring it out, I'd also want to consider whether it's possible just to pay down the federal loans faster (pay off one loan at a time.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04- 2-15 3:21 PM
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If you trade it in, you do get the extra protection of being able to discharge the loan in bankruptcy, right? So it might actually be better if you hit a financial worst case scenario.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04- 2-15 3:39 PM
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10: no. You couldn't discharge it.

Putting the extra into one loan is a good idea.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 2-15 3:45 PM
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Have you calculated how much money you could expect to save and estimated the net present value of that money? If your income and career prospects are bright enough that you can afford to pay an extra $500 a year for the peace of mind that comes with the federal backstops. If it's going to save you $3000 a year that might be a different story.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 04- 2-15 4:21 PM
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12: That's a good construct.


Posted by: President Miloš Zeman | Link to this comment | 04- 2-15 6:00 PM
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12/13: Having read the article now, I am underwhelmed by the proposition on offer. To save 20 basis points on the interest rate (less than $3,000 over the life of the loan if your debt load is typical), you would give up all the downside protection of the government program?

Plus (and I cannot emphasize this point too strongly), you would be contributing to making an insufferable social venture millionaire out of a 20-something Wharton MBA who really needs to have Tim "Ripper" Owens punch him hard in the cock. Dissociating yourself from the inevitable TED Talk alone ought to be worth a couple grand, if you can afford it.

If you're going to refinance, at least do it from a bank offering competitive rates for your credit risk.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 2-15 6:55 PM
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20 basis points has the "chasing nickels in front of a steamroller" vibe that just screams 2007.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 2-15 7:27 PM
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20 basis points has the "chasing nickels in front of a steamroller" vibe that just screams 2007.

To the contrary: 20 basis points is the slim margin being offered to the borrower. The lender is doubtless profiting from a couple hundred BP gap between the creditworthy borrowers they cherrypick and the general borrower pool.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 2-15 7:32 PM
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I was thinking of the borrower being in the position of the banks and funds that went under.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 2-15 7:47 PM
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Everything I've read* about the student loan refi market screams pre-2008 finance. It makes me think we've crossed a threshold where student loans are less about helping people with education and more about a) providing capital to investors that can be rolled up into masked-risk financial products with too big to fail government backing and b) generating revenue for a government that refuses to tax at rates sufficient to meet its commitments.

*By which I mean a few articles in Forbes found from a cursory Google search on my phone.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 2-15 8:27 PM
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It's a much larger difference than 20 basis points in my case, if I'm understanding those correctly. My current balance is $67K, different interest rates averaging out to 7.16%, monthly payment $1,188. I'm being offered 10-year fixed-rate at 4.74% (both sides' figures including autopay discount), monthly $700. Taking that and paying the monthly minimum would mean paying a bit more over the life of the loan. But paying $1,000/month instead, that's a significant drop both monthly and overall.

May still not be sufficient to forego the federal protections, but it at least seems fairly competitive from what I've read.


Posted by: President Miloš Zeman | Link to this comment | 04- 2-15 8:28 PM
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Okay. That's a big difference.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 2-15 8:35 PM
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It looks like borrowers can find good deals. It's the people buying student loan debt packaged by venture-backed startups out to disrupt the loan market who might want to watch out.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 2-15 8:45 PM
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Sure, but who cares about them?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 2-15 9:38 PM
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19: OK, that makes a big difference. For that level of savings I could live with being complicit in the inevitable TED Talk.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 3-15 4:39 AM
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19: Yeah, my rates are all around 2.8 or so.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 3-15 4:53 AM
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I'd take that deal in a second. The main risk is that one day the republicans might decide they want some young people to vote for them and will finally put student loan interest back to a reasonable rate.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 3-15 5:55 AM
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OK, thanks, everyone.


Posted by: President Miloš Zeman | Link to this comment | 04- 3-15 5:05 PM
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I imagine that its creditworthy folks like you that keep the government program afloat, to some extent. How do you feel about your dollars going to some profiteering whatnot instead of helping subsidise a noble (even if not perfectly achieved) goal?


Posted by: jiggety-jig | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 6:23 AM
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I would say that public student loans are not in fact a noble enterprise; they represent a bad political choice we made, trying to have it both ways (keep up college attendance without spending money), with an immiserating effect on many. The government doesn't need to "stay afloat" in this one line of business to keep it open; it ought to be making outlays. Alternatively, if declining profits from student loans prompt politicians to throttle the program, we're in trouble anyway for a vast number of reasons.


Posted by: President Miloš Zeman | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 7:27 AM
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How long would it take for a relatively late learner (late 30s) to go from not driving (never had a license) to being able to drive safely on the interstate?


Posted by: Zachary Taylor | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 11:21 AM
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Six hours, unless you are afraid of death.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 11:25 AM
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Which interstate?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 12:12 PM
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Asking for a friend.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 12:17 PM
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29: I think it depends a bit on how coordinated in general the person is and how fearful. I'd think that from not driving to interstate should take four or five hourlong outings, assuming the interstate is somewhere not known for crazy drivers and that has long on/off-ramps. (Interstates with short merges are harder, and ones with drivers who'll aggressively block merges are hardest, I think. Those would take a few more practices.)

If the new driver is really uncoordinated or fearful, I'd think maybe 15-20 hours of practice in shorter blocks.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 12:38 PM
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A friend who wants to stay off that interstate.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 12:39 PM
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Moby the Explicit.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 12:46 PM
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Moby Explicit doesn't show up until "Hogfather" I think


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 12:47 PM
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10000 hours.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 12:50 PM
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I took professional driving lessons, and the instructor took me on the interstate on my second lesson.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 1:08 PM
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The instructor had lots of insurance, gambling debts, and dependents.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 1:11 PM
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This would be on a major E-W interstate like 20 or 40 (route still TBD). Mrs. Taylor drives but can only do so much in a day (5-6 hours) before she gets worn out. I'm hoping that in the next two months or so I could get to the point of doing at least, say, half as much as that per day, so that we could get across the country more quickly.

I would say that I am reasonably well coordinated but fairly fearful.


Posted by: Zachary Taylor | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 1:18 PM
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Interstates are quite easy to drive on compared to surface streets -- very regular, no complicated corners or signalling or figuring out the intentions of others. Probably your biggest challenge will be psychological.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 1:27 PM
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41: Unless you're navigating through LA, which is where I learned to drive a standard.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 1:30 PM
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I learned to drive pretty late -- license at 21, but not comfortable with it, and didn't really drive much until 27 -- I figured it was unsafe living in the US with kids and not being a competent driver. The deal is that highway driving is much easier than either back-road or street driving, because highways are better designed for cars, steering's easier at higher speed, unexpected things are much less likely to happen. The downside is the higher stakes if you fuck up -- fucking up at 12 mph in a parking lot is very likely, but probably no one gets hurt. At 70 on an interstate, it's very unlikely, but if you fuck up you can kill yourself.

Which means that the real issue is your confidence. 2-3 hours with an instructor, you should be more than competent to get out on a big highway, unless you're really bad at physical stuff. But it'll probably be exhausting until you feel good about it -- I wouldn't plan on driving for more than a half hour or so at a time until you've got a couple of thousand miles under your belt.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 1:35 PM
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42: That suggests that we should arrange things so that she's driving when we get to any major cities...


Posted by: Zachary Taylor | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 1:36 PM
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And pay for professional lessons -- having Mrs Taylor teach you might work, but I'd bet not nearly as well.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 1:37 PM
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44: I think planning to avoid hazards like that is a bad idea, except at the very beginning -- if you're not safe to handle a car in any reasonable set of conditions, you're really not safe to be on the road. And you won't get safe unless you do it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 1:40 PM
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43 pretty much says what I intended to say in 41, but I used the wrong words and not enough of them.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 1:41 PM
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48

Also, what makes non-driving embarrassing enough to go presidential over? It's like the next level of not even owning a TV. You should be bragging.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 1:41 PM
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Also honestly it wouldn't have occurred to me that it would be exhausting at first -- I simply don't remember that -- but it makes a lot of sense.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 1:42 PM
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I have heard, anecdotally, that a cross-country trip is a great way to make yourself practice enough to get comfortable driving.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 1:43 PM
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41 is pretty much right. If you mostly want to be able to help out with driving along the interstate for long stretches, that will be easy. I'd say maybe one or two trips on residential surface streets with little to no traffic, then two trips on surface streets with moderate traffic where you practice turning (especially into and out of parking lots), then several trip or two on the interstate, practicing entering and exiting every few miles, best done on a strip with an access road running parallel, assuming you're not too stressed by any of the previous things (if you are, just repeat until you're confortable). If you want to build your confidence more slowly, just get on the interstate, drive for 20 min to get comfortable with the speed and traffic, then exit, switch drivers and call it a day.

42: I bet you got good at it really fast.

I also think LB's overestimating entering and exiting interstates, even near a city. Just chose to exit where there's a gas station (which is nearly every exit, no planning needed). You exit, maybe go through a light, and turn into the station. Easy, no complicated skills required.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 1:45 PM
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If you let your wife do all the intrastate driving, you have to cut off your own balls.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 1:47 PM
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The exhaustion is from personal experience, and it's about knowing you're not very good at something that could kill you and other people, so you're all wound tight about it. People who learn to drive as teenagers like normal people probably never run into it, because they're very competent by the time they're old enough to have a sane sense of the hazards involved, if you see what I mean.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 1:49 PM
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I guess I should say that I'm kind of a lousy driver and grew up in a car-centric suburb. I got my license the day I turned 16. I was pretty bad at everything about driving, and it took me a long time to learn. Everyone else I know was way, way faster to become proficient than I was, whether they learned at 15 or whether they learned in their 30s.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 1:52 PM
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51.last: Huh? I was telling him not to build up cities in his head as hazards to be avoided. That is, I agree with you, but I don't get what you disagree with me about.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 1:52 PM
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Your 46 sounded like you were agreeing that cities were hazards and saying that it was important to be comfortable in both cities and on interstates to be safe. I think that it would be totally fine to drive on an interstate and switch drivers before entering cities. City driving to me is harder when there's traffic, and avoiding it seems fine for someone who's learning.

Maybe I misread you?


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 1:57 PM
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Oh, huh, I guess we really do disagree a bit. Yes, city driving is harder than highway driving (that is, it takes more attention and more improvisational skills. Lower speed, though, which means lower stakes, possibility of death-wise.), but no, I don't think it's enough harder to count as a hazard to be avoided. I think a lot of non-city people build it up in their heads too much(coughmyinlawscough), and the fear is both inconveniencing and a hazard in itself -- if you think you're doing something terrifying and difficult, you're more likely to screw it up.

Which means that I think a learner should bite the bullet and just do the city driving as it comes up, to get to the point where it's NBD to them faster.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 2:11 PM
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Since no one else has mentioned this: I was also a late learner (license at 23, no significant driving experience until after 30), and for me the shitty thing about interstate driving was and is that you either have to change lanes constantly to pass semis, which drive about 10mph slower than cars, or camp out in the fast lane. I loathed weaving in and out of the truck lane, but I was just not prepared to drive 80 mph for hours, and/or get tailgated by every other car if I took it slower than the prevailing insane speeds. Once you're really habituated, you don't notice that Scylla/Charybdis choice much, but it was incredibly stressful to start with. The worst kind of freeway traffic is heavy churning traffic that isn't quite dense enough to slow everyone down, but dense enough that you have to worry about other fast-moving cars weaving around incessantly. Normal freeway driving is more boredom punctuated by terror. I am pretty sure you can trick yourself into success, though, because apparently nearly everyone can.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 2:13 PM
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I have what is probably an obnoxious urbanite theory (which I have almost certainly mentioned here before) that the main problem non-city people have with city driving is emotional. Out in most of America, the roads are well designed for cars, most people are heavy drivers and so are pretty competent, so if another driver does anything that inconveniences you, they have no excuse and you're personally outraged. In a city, the roads are badly designed, everything's more crowded, and there are more amateur drivers like me who are really not all that good at it, so people are inconveniencing you every 50 feet. People from the rest of the country are constantly outraged, and it freaks them out. If you get used to it, though, the emotional valence drops, and you can just think of yourself as all in a wacky game of trying not to kill each other at lowish speeds, and it's not so bad.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 2:16 PM
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Thank you so much for all the advice, Mineshaft! Just one other question: a learner's permit would allow me to drive in all states, provided that Mrs. Taylor is in the car, right?


Posted by: Zachary Taylor | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 2:17 PM
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for me the shitty thing about interstate driving was and is that you either have to change lanes constantly to pass semis, which drive about 10mph slower than cars, or camp out in the fast lane.

I remember that too. An option you're leaving out though, is if you're getting freaked out by all the lane changing or by driving too fast, you can just drop your speed and stay (well) behind the semi who's blocking you. Going 55 instead of 65 won't make that much of a difference over a long trip.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 2:18 PM
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60: I really don't think it will, although you'd have to look it up. But depending on your state, it shouldn't take much time at all to get yourself a license.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 2:19 PM
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61: for me that was something I would try as hard as possible to do, and then after five minutes my competitive nature would win out and I would go zooming past in the passing lane for as long as I could stand it. (During this period I was a terrifically fast, aggressive cyclist, and I actively worried that if I became more comfortable driving I would become a serious menace. which has probably happened by now.)


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 2:25 PM
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57/59: I agree in general with you about city driving and think it is actually more forgiving because people are doing stupid and inconvenient things all the time, so it's OK to make the crazy left turn from the far right lane. I also realize that lots of people find it scary and stressful and don't think Pres. Taylor needs the extra stress to manage fine on a cross country drive that's mostly interstates.

60: When the boyfriend and I were learning, that was certainly true. Both of us remember our parents making us drive on family road trips for long stretches. Here are restrictions by state.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 2:28 PM
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60: Is your wife over 21?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 2:29 PM
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60, 62: I recall that it varies quite a bit by state. Looked it up when a relative with a learner's permit came here and wanted to practice. One source claimed the following: Currently six states (New Hampshire, Arizona, Hawaii, Vermont, Pennsylvania and South Carolina) and the District of Columbia ban permit drivers from other states


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 2:43 PM
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Yes, she's significantly younger but not in violation of (n/2)+7.


Posted by: Zachary Taylor | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 2:44 PM
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66: Awesome, thanks!


Posted by: Zachary Taylor | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 2:44 PM
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But check the individual states DMV sites.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 2:46 PM
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Will do, mildew.


Posted by: Zachary Taylor | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 2:48 PM
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I think another difference between city and highway driving is that on city streets, you accumulate experience more quickly, because most of the weird stuff that can happen, actually happens pretty frequently. On highways, weird situations are less common, but also more scary. So you can have been driving for a while on highways, and still run into nasty surprises.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 2:51 PM
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The worst of both worlds is urban interstates. I'm so out of practice, I missed my exit in Philly last fall, which ended up being pretty seriously inconvenient.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 3:44 PM
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I like city driving better, but I grew up in Boston and learned to drive in Cambridge and Belmont before going on the highways.

Highway driving in Colorado is exhausting for me. It's either treacherous mountain passes at frequent intervals or it's so straight that your eyes can glaze over.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 3:45 PM
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I don't remember a long period of feeling stressed when I started driving at 15/16, but when I learned to drive stick at 28ish, it was a good month before I was comfortable. Early on, I would even choose routes that avoided having to stop on an incline. Accelerating uphill from a dead stop was the most nerve-wracking, and there's a lot of that in this hilly town. I'd say it took a good month of everyday, commuting-to-work driving, then I was fine.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 3:46 PM
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72: Those are pretty bad.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 3:49 PM
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72: Philadelphia freeways are basically death cast in asphalt.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 3:53 PM
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Pittsburgh has freeways that get jammed easily. In Philly, they get crowded but nobody slows down. Everybody just joins a death pact. First one who messes up takes everybody with them.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 3:57 PM
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I don't know what you mean by "freeways", but the main Philly "expressway" I'm familiar with seems to go at an average speed of 6 miles per hour, based on my many maddening and unbearable hours of experience.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 4:42 PM
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City driving is terrible and awful, all you city driving defenders are crazy. The point of being in a city is to take the goddamn subway and not drive there.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 5:20 PM
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I hope I never have to drive on an interstate in the Bronx again for the rest of my life. I still have nightmares about when I almost accidentally ended up on the GW bridge.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 5:22 PM
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I recall driving something called the Sky Kill Expressway. There was maybe twenty feet of free suave in front of each car and everybody was moving at fifty or better.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 5:24 PM
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Suave should be space.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 5:25 PM
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As others have said, interstate driving outside of cities is pretty easy in general, and it shouldn't take very long to reach a level of proficiency such that you can take the wheel for a while to give your wife a break. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that I-40 at least is a major east-west trucking route (and I suspect most of the other options you are considering are too), so there are lots and lots of semis even on the less populated stretches and the issues lk mentions about dealing with them are likely to come up a lot. You'll want to practice a fair amount with that specific type of driving, if possible, before setting out on the big trip.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 5:26 PM
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80: The Cross-Bronx is admittedly a post-apocalyptic hellscape, and the other highways in the Bronx aren't much better. (The Hutch, particularly, worries me. I've never had a route that involved the Hutch go smoothly.) But if you have a relaxed attitude and take what comes, it's not so bad.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 5:35 PM
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Perhaps experiment with driving in thick fog.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 6:15 PM
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29: In my case, nine years and counting. But that may to do with a certain unpleasantness with a friend's car and my never actually getting my license.

I figure the only hope for someone in my position (48) is to take a year's sabbatical in Arizona or Siberia or similar and learn one control at a time with no traffic whatsoever. Not a fantasy exactly, but it would be nice if it could happen at some point, before I have to get the welfare state to take me to the grocery store.


Posted by: edna k. | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 6:16 PM
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I'm LB's driver at 16 who got competent before they got fear. But the city driving thing isn't quite right - I haven't driven in NYC in fifteen years, but even in downtown Austin, there really is just so much more to keep an eye out for. Whereas Los Angeles, at least the parts I drove in, felt like endless medium-sized ville, and I didn't feel like it required heightened attention like DC/NYC/boston/Chicago.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 6:19 PM
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87: Yes, there's a big difference between "city driving" as in "dense urban area not designed for cars" and "city driving" as in "large metropolitan area but basically designed for cars."


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 6:28 PM
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Aside from on-ramp merges, the biggest issue I find on freeways in cities is not missing your exit, especially when you get to a complicated interchange. Depending on how you react that could be extremely unsafe or just inconvenient. I'm from the school of passing up the exit and doubling back if you've gone too far to safely get the right lane, but you see lots of people swerve in late or swerve out if they're in an exit lane and don't want to be.

Older freeways and highways tend to be where you find the craziest entry/exit merges: short lanes shared by exit/entrance (101 has a bunch of these), short ramps where you hit the main road right past a stop sign (110 north of downtown LA, Merritt Parkway).


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 6:36 PM
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How stressed I am about city driving is pretty directly a function of whether there are pedestrians around and whether it's an area with dense street parking.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 6:39 PM
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Most pedestrians won't punch cars whose drivers won't yield.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 7:03 PM
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I will and have though.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 7:19 PM
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Never punched a car. An open-handed slap, yes, but not a punch.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 7:21 PM
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Seems like punching a car could hurt your hand pretty bad.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 7:22 PM
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Also, I still don't drive. Suppose maybe I should learn at some point. But meh.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 7:25 PM
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Actually, I do only the slap also.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 7:31 PM
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LB's pooh-poohing the additional rigors of driving in cities notwithstanding, I think I have to honestly admit that driving in Boston if you're not used to it can be pretty stressful. Even if you're used to it things can be not great, but if you don't already know where you're going it can be pretty incomprehensible and lead you quite a ways out of your way. Why just earlier we were at the stretch of road that I continually fuck up, where there are four lanes, the left two of which exit left to go straight, or north, the middle two of which continue straight to turn left and go north, and the right of which exits right to go south or north, depending whether you get in the left lane or right lane immediately after turning. None of this is marked, as such.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 7:31 PM
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If you learn how to drive, you feel more upright when you don't drive after drinking.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 7:32 PM
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Man, I just replaced the heating element on our dishwasher. Sucked ass, because there are a number of unfortunate design choices with this bastard.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 8:00 PM
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100

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Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 8:01 PM
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Nobody likes an ugly heating element.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 8:07 PM
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Bah


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 8:08 PM
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Learning to drive on ancient under powered and significantly after market modified VWs (hippy parents) in a *very* hilly town means I can drive pretty much anything anywhere. Except ice/snow because CA girl. Also used to spell the better half in the UK but no more, that is truly stressful.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 8:09 PM
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I also learned to drive late, don't drive much, and am much more comfortable with freeway driving than city driving -- both because freeway driving is easier, and because patience is more valuable in freeway driving.

There are a lot more circumstances in city driving in which you have to improvise or get yourself out of a tight situation on the fly. Whereas on the freeway, you can usually give yourself more time to make decisions, and you're less likely to get in trouble just toodling along in your lane.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 8:22 PM
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Speaking of roads, a nice map that attempts to show every road in the lower 48. At the one link there are state maps of all 50 states that you can zoom in as well. Some border artifacts as what counts as a road seems to vary between some states, but a lot of interesting patterns.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 8:26 PM
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My dad didn't learn to drive until he was 40, and never was smooth, in contrast to my mother who had driven the pre-war cars as a teenager and could shift a non-syncromesh transmission, like our old TR3, smoothly. Nonetheless, he was the default driver by mutual agreement.

In '67 we were returning to Ohio from Massachusetts with a travel trailer, and despite wanting to avoid NYC, we found ourselves not only in it, but crossing the Bronx. My dad got off whatever expressway it was, but found ourselves in a pretty desolate landscape, so we got back on and finally crossed the GWB. We were miles from where we'd expected to be, and finally pulled off the road and my parents, exhausted slept in the trailer by the road. Trucks roared by all night but we weren't molested or questioned.

I probably haven't driven a million miles but the better part of it for sure. I drive less often now then any time since my teens. I'm less stressed by driving than many people but take less pleasure in than I used to.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 8:27 PM
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Driving in Boston really does suck, especially moving from Chicago's dirt simple grid. I only lived there for two years, which wasn't nearly enough time to become anything like familiar. My girlfriend at the time, a local, would say "there's a more direct route!" and I'd say I don't care, I've learned this one and that's all I can handle.

I got to Manhattan pretty regularly when I lived in Boston, and found it surprisingly easy, because I realized that the majority of other drivers were professionals (for some value of professional) and you could drive as maniacally as they did and everyone would figure it out. To put it another way, I never worried about pissing anyone off, which is liberating.

I might have mentioned, in the distant archives, that my mom--who has become more risk averse by the day for decades now--used to let me drive around town, with her in the car, starting when I was 12. I feel like I've been driving forever, and find it pretty easy and relaxing. New Mexico was a dream for driving, at least after I figured out where the dangerous deformations in the roadways were. Yes, a Prius can go 100 mph, although mileage suffers a bit.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 8:43 PM
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105 It's cool, but I definitely call bullshit on the hiking trails included in the Rattlesnake, Glacier, and the Bob.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 8:45 PM
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The Alaska one is totally wrong. Lots of those "roads" are actually snowmachine trails at best.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 8:56 PM
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Yes. I saw that in Alaska he picked up a lot of questionable "roads."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 8:58 PM
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107.2 is totally right. I loved driving in NYC -- it was like southern europe, just accelerate and go and see what happpens, don't stop unless you're a pussy, otherwise just go crazy. I assume like everything good about NyC this has now cone to an end. The best city to drive in is Detroit - great highways, plus when you're in the city it's Mad Max style total disregard for lights, lanes, anything else, just go. Go now!


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04- 4-15 11:41 PM
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It's a different aggressive - I think that's where non-city drivers misinterpret things. The rules for getting along and being civil in places like New York (ie, don't dally. If you're going to take an opening in traffic, jump on it) would code as rude here in the gentle countryside. So yes, I could easily see Texans getting flustered that everyone was such a jerk there.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 5-15 6:39 AM
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There are also people just doing uncivil/confused/insane/antisocial things, either because they're not very good drivers, they're basically uncivil people, or they're in some spot where it makes a really significant convenience difference to behave badly. I don't think I can argue that NYC drivers are well behaved, just in a different way than car-country drivers are (although there's a bit of that), but largely they're really badly behaved. The trick of dealing with it is just not to take it as a personal affront, because if you did it'd take up all your emotional energy, and just deal with the practical necessities of not hitting anyone regardless, which isn't terribly difficult.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 5-15 8:19 AM
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OT: Do jellybeans count as liquid per TSA standards. I won't chance losing my Starburst jellybeans.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 5-15 9:39 AM
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You know who liked jelly beans?


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04- 5-15 11:38 AM
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The trick of dealing with it is just not to take it as a personal affront, because if you did it'd take up all your emotional energy, and just deal with the practical necessities of not hitting anyone regardless, which isn't terribly difficult.

You're really not convincing me that city driving won't take additional emotional energy. Yes, I agree that deciding not to worry makes more sense, but that takes practice.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 5-15 11:43 AM
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It's not that you shouldn't worry, but that you should worry about the unpredictably moving obstacles (again, at fairly low speeds. It's not actually that difficult) rather than about the conduct and manners of the people steering them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 5-15 11:55 AM
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Some cities are easier to get around than others by car. Salt Lake City is very easy; we don't live in the city, but when we have to go there it's usually a matter of having a rough idea of where the thing we're trying to get to is and just following the sense of the grid till we wind up where we're headed.

Pittsburgh, as I recall, requires determining a direct route - my favorite set of signs in the area has 28S and 51S pointed in opposite directions.

112: Utah drivers are horrible. My theory is that one learns not to be a total twit on the roads by having close calls, and when there aren't all that many people, one can somehow never have the lesson driven home by a close call that, e.g., one should not make left hand turns from the far right lane.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04- 5-15 11:55 AM
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Yes. Pittsburgh really is tough to get used to if you come from a place where the roads were in a grid


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 5-15 11:59 AM
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I think it's 28 North/8 South. I just decided to never cross the Allegheny so I didn't have to deal with it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 5-15 12:05 PM
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Has this thread moved on? Dead? Haven't been following it? A small contribution:

Colleges, how in good conscience can you do this to kids?

...Chris Lehmann in The Hechinger Report, via Bady's Sunday Reading at New Inquiry. Where I spend my Sundays, how about you?

Today, I was sitting with one of our SLA seniors. She's gotten into a wonderful college - her top choice. The school costs $54,000 a year. Her mother makes less than the federal deep poverty level. She only received the federal financial aid package with no aid from the school, which means that, should she go to this school, she would graduate with approximately $200,000 of debt.

She would graduate with approximately $200,000 of debt - for a bachelor's degree.
...
Then we looked at the state schools she's gotten into, and we talked about what it would mean to be $60,000 in debt after four years, because Pennsylvania has had so much cut from higher education that Penn State is now $27,000 / year -- in state, and we've noticed that their financial aid packages have dropped by quite a bit.

So we have to tell the kids to apply to the private schools

Down a little ways, yet another disillusionment about:Basic Income, Workfare and affirmations of productivity by Angela Mitropoulos, one of my heroes

"For about twenty-four hours, some advocates of a Basic Income responded to the Cypriot government's announcement of a guaranteed minimum income with a good deal of enthusiasm.

Until various people, including Mark Gawne, pointed out the (not really very fine) detail.

The single but absolutely necessary precondition is that they don't refuse to accept offers for employment and to participate in the policies of continuous employment that are determined by the state."

Policy wonks, of course, can propose whatever they please, and people can seek to address policy wonks as much as they like. But the questions of politics and political movements are required to be far less affirming, not least of productivity when that means, in this system, exploitation.

The question that hovers uncomfortably around Basic Income proposals is the extent to which they can distance themselves from injunctions to productivity. Because so far they've been outside any serious discussion of, and without much critical regard for, the specifically changing forms of contractual obligation that, in welfare systems in particular, are increasingly governed by something closer to indentured labour than waged work."

It is hilarious that modern liberals and progressives are so blinded by their idealism that they actually advocating what will in practice amount to slavery.

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Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04- 5-15 12:17 PM
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Of all the people who have been in contact with my nieces since Tuesday, over 50% have vomited. I'm not liking my odds but at least fewer people are blaming the chicken I made Thursday.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 5-15 4:20 PM
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114: I used to love Starburst jelly beans until 9/11 they changed the lime ones to green apple.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 04- 5-15 4:50 PM
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I was feeling a bit queasy, but possibly that's because my dinner was Ruffles and clam dip. Anyway, I would really prefer not to vomit on an airplane or be the person flying with the vomiting kid.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 5-15 9:24 PM
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Choosing an appropriately dead thread to go off-topic: it looks like the midwestern university Halford loves to hate wants to move forward with offering me a job. A few weeks ago I probably would have wanted to accept, but they probably can't solve the two-body problem which is now solved locally for the next few years. So now I feel vaguely guilty about letting things progress to this point and probably having to tell them no.

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Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 8:28 AM
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I would definitely not feel guilty. You're striking a blow for all the other academic job candidates who never, ever have any leverage.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 8:30 AM
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Yeah, for real. Don't feel bad. You know the thing about how everyone gets outside job offers in order to leverage a raise from their own job? Feel bad about that because the job search wasn't in good faith, even though there's no alternative. But your job search was in good faith.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 8:33 AM
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Tell them not to be so slow next time.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 8:33 AM
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they probably can't solve the two-body problem

Maybe telling them no will make them try harder to solve it.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 8:36 AM
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Congrats anyway, though.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 9:04 AM
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Besides, by turning them down you will avoid being summarily executed along with all the others when full halfordismo finally takes effect.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 9:18 AM
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You know the thing about how everyone gets outside job offers in order to leverage a raise from their own job?

This hadn't occurred to me until you wrote it, but I guess I might as well try to do something like that. Probably my current employer will just laugh at me, though.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 9:30 AM
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Who knows whether they'll solve your two body problem once the time comes. People get attached to decisions they made, and doors may magically open then.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 9:51 AM
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Maybe the midwestern invoersity could offer something to your girlfriend. Would that be amenable to her?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 10:07 AM
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You know the thing about how everyone gets outside job offers in order to leverage a raise from their own job?

This probably is even harder for science academic-type people than for other people, since we spend so many years in training positions that are basically like graduate school, but better-paid. No negotiation over the salary is possible.

Right now I'm applying for jobs that are, again, pseudo-prestigious selective training positions (exactly two years in length). I feel like I should actually NOT tell the interviewer that I already have an offer from another one of the positions, because it makes me seem less eager/desperate for the job.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 10:08 AM
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135: I think that changes a bit once you're a professor, but obviously I'm not in the field and don't really know.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 10:11 AM
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134, 135: They've said pretty clearly that they can't but that within a few years they expect something will open up at some other institute in the same metro area. I've pretty much told them that if they don't come back to me with a better answer I'll say no. We'll see what happens.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 6-15 10:37 AM
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