Breakfast. This morning: Eggs that my son collects each evening. And Froot Loops, the ones that have extra colored sparkle dust, just in case you didn’t remember that Froot is not Fruit for legal reasons.

The boys are absorbed in discussion about how to get me to plug in the Wii again. (“We should clean our room without her asking!”)

I look across the table to the farmer and I say, “I’m happy. I love you.”

He says, “That’s good. The kids need that. Interesting does nothing for kids.”

Then he walks over to my side of the table. He puts his arm around me and squeezes me. He says, “I love you, too,” and he goes out to the wood burning heater.

I watch him.

There’s something primal about a husband who literally cuts the wood to heat the house in the winter, and then keeps the fire going. And when he kisses me at lunch, his face smells like the fire.

We do not have an easy relationship. No relationship is easy. Thank goodness we know this, because marriage is starting to remind me of childbirth—it’s incredible that so many people do it when it is so painful.

But marriage is like childbirth also in that the benefits are so much. Read more

I am fascinated with mastery. I will not embark on anything unless I know I can become a master at it. I did not start Ashtanga yoga until I knew I could do it every day for a year. I did not start swing dancing lessons until I had enough money to take three lessons a day, with three different teachers. (Actually, it’s debatable as to whether I had enough money, but that’s how I spent it.)

I am not interested in just trying something. I find just trying totally unrewarding.

The idea that mastery is a positive experience is well researched and not particularly controversial. The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, is actually an ode to mastery, but very controversial. The mom who wrote it is a Yale law professor and her kids are musicians and there is no room in that family for dilettantes. The book says that parents should force feed the self-discipline that mastery requires. The issue, of course, is whether mastery can come from such external motivation. She says yes. I’m not sure. (Though just in case internal motivation is overrated, I’m forcing my own kids to practice their instruments twice a day.)

In my life there has been only a very fine line between obsessive interest and mastery. I think today about what I’m trying to master, and honestly, I feel like I’ve mastered the happiness stuff. I know what makes me happy.

I appear to be unable to maintain a close bond with someone I’m married to. Which is, by far, the most important thing we can do for our happiness. But I am able to derive happiness from intellectual and physical mastery.

I’m really drawn to this photo. Somehow, I immediately knew it was sexual. Maybe because power is sexual. Maybe because she’s so pretty. I don’t know. But it turns out, this is a photo of a blow up doll for having sex. The artist, Laurie Simmons ordered the doll in the mail and then took a series of photos. In this photo, the doll is dressed in the artist’s daughter’s clothing. Of course, the doll does not come with these clothes. Read more

We finally got a dog. Sparky. His original name was Prince. But I decided you can’t have a prince on a farm. So we changed the name. Sparky is five years old, so he was probably pretty used to the name Prince, but name changing, is of course, normal in our family. (After all, I’m on my fourth name.)

We picked Sparky at the pound because my son wanted a lap dog. I am not a fan of lap dogs. They scream Paris Hilton to me. A study at the University of California at San Diego confirms our hunches that people pick dogs that resemble them, and sure enough, the rat terrier is like my son in that they are both delicate and jumpy. I think I am more labrador—strong and fun—so I thought I was being an extra good mom getting a dog I would never choose myself.

Rat Terrier

At the dog pound, Sparky sat in my son’s lap, but as soon as we got him home, he looked for larger laps. It turns out, Sparky prefers adults. At first we thought it was my son’s jumpiness. We told the kids to be calm around the dog.

But the dog got snappier as the week went on. And growly. Read more

My favorite place for pizza in Madison is Ian's. My kids go there in the summer for macaroni and cheese pizza. They order it because it sounds so fun, but then they don't eat it.

Ian's is located right on the Wisconsin State Capitol, where 70,000 people are protesting that Governor Walker is repealing almost all collective bargaining rights of public workers. For the last six days of protests, Ian's has been taking orders from all over the world — Korea, Egypt, New Zealand, and 51 states — to deliver pizzas to the protesters. Ian's keeps track of worldwide pizza support on a blackboard:

It's a nice story. But the issue in Wisconsin is more fundamental than pro-labor or anti-labor. The issue is that the workforce is changing. Some of the groups having the hardest time dealing with this change are the unions, and protesting change is not going to help. Read more

This is Caitlin McCabe. She’s turning 30 this week. I met Caitlin through my Brazen Careerist co-founder, Ryan Paugh. They are getting married, and every day I thank goodness that Ryan found her, because I don’t have a lot of friends in Madison, and I can’t have one fall to the wayside for marrying someone I don’t like.

Caitlin wrote a thoughtful post about turning 30, which reminded me that I have a lot to say about turning 30. So this post is my birthday present to Caitlin. If you can call unsolicited advice a gift.

1. Don't look to men for turning-30 camaraderie.
Turning 30 is different for men and women. Take a look at OKCupid, which is a dating site, yes, but it is also one of the most intoxicating data centers online. Their official blogger, Christian Rudder, does an incredible job of parsing the data from millions of people who use the site to figure out surprising answers to intriguing questions.

Rudder parses OKCupid data to find that, women are most desirable to men when women are in their 20s, and men are least desirable to women when they are in their 20s. Makes sense—men select for looks and women select for money. This is not some sexist social artifact—this is just how the world works and you cannot change it by forcing a generation of girls to play soccer. Read more

Yesterday I was on the phone with Rachel Mendleson, from Canadian Business. She is writing an article about how to quit a job without burning bridges. She wants me to give people advice about not burning bridges.

I tell her I think the topic is stupid. I tell her everyone knows that advice already.

She says, “What about the blog post you wrote 9 Tips for Quitting a Job Gracefully?” Do you think that information is no longer right?”

“Oh. I forgot about that,” I say. “But it's old. It's a boring topic now.”

“What about your number-seven tip: about how you shouldn’t do an exit interview?”

“Yeah. People shouldn't do that. I'm sorry to be difficult. Why don't you just copy and paste what I wrote about exit interviews into your story? I used to do that when I was a columnist at the Boston Globe —just lift stuff and quote people. It's so much faster than real interviews.”

“I don't do that.”

“Oh. Okay. Sorry. Sorry. Okay. I'm going to try to be more helpful. Here's a quote for you: Quitting a job is a networking event. It's about making sure you bring your old co-workers into the fold of your network before you leave.”

“What are tips for doing that?” Read more

My friend Melissa is gone. It’s been two weeks since her visit ended, but I’m still so sad. I’m not sure if I’m sad because I’m really lonely and isolated on the farm or if I’m sad because I fell in love with Melissa.

I miss her taking pictures all the time. For example this self-portrait. Which she took 500 versions of. She wore the same clothes for a week— something that feels natural to do on a farm—and even though the paint is red and her clothes are pink, she magically matches my bathroom walls.

She left me with a folder of 50 photos for my blog. That’s a good gift. And she left my kids with the feeling that they made a new friend.

I took this photo from the front seat. I told her maybe I didn’t like it. She looks sad. But she said, “We were sad. It’s a sad movie. The Dalmatians are being turned into coats!” Read more

Here are some industries where jobs are disappearing very quickly: Newspapers, car assembly lines and coal mining. It’s important to keep track of jobs that are disappearing, because it gives us a glimpse of where new jobs are emerging. In order to understand where the workforce is heading, you need to understand why parts of it are dying.

The value in seeing these new openings in the workforce is deciding which is maybe the right next step for you. And that is a more effective way to steer your career than obsessing about the jobs that you want to exist that are not there yet. You’ll need to practice this way of thinking. I know because I do it all the time for my own career, checking a wide range of fields. So start practicing—here are several jobs that I’ll bet you haven’t noticed are gone, and what’s being filling the vacancies.

1. Blogger.
There is not enough money in blog advertising for lone individuals to make a living from it. There used to be. But today, if you want to sell content, you need multiple people blogging on one site. And if there’s just one blogger, you need to use your blog to sell something else (like career tools, in Ramit’s case, or a company, in mine). My favorite example of this is Guy Kawasaki. He built his blog traffic up to a respectable mountain and then realized that the ad revenue from blogging stinks, especially in comparison to his bestselling books. So he used his blog to launch a new company, and get another book deal, and then he shut down his blog, Read more

Whatever you earn at age 40 is likely to be the top of your earning potential. This is one of a gazillion things I've learned from talking with Al Lee, the director of quantitative analysis at PayScale.

Al’s data, which is based on the careers of college graduates, is basically that the salary curve for most people in their 20s is very steep. Then it starts to flatten in the 30s, and then you get into the land of the 3% raise. In real dollars, those 3% raises are not actually raises, they are just keeping up with inflation.

The information is grim. But here are some things you can do with it:

1. Go where the men are. To be precise, pay tops out at age 38 for women ($61K) and age 45 for men ($95K). But the difference, according to PayScale data, is not due to unequal pay for equal work. Rather, the difference is that women choose lower paying careers, and women are more likely to take time out of the workforce for kids. So the first thing you can do to prevent your salary from flat-lining is choose a career that men dominate. But it's not just about industry—it is also about influence. Stick to line-management positions rather than support roles. For example, skip human resources and go to supply chain management. Read more

We have been snowed in for three days.

At first, it was just a hint of being snowed in, people stopping and talking in the grocery store. Not that I would know. Because the farmer told me I should probably go buy extra food in case we’re snowed in and I ignored him. Melissa and I were too busy scheming, figuring out how we can do a business together. Finding a good idea for a business takes a lot of thinking, and arguing, and diagramming failed ideas on big sheets of paper.

Then it started snowing. A lot. At first it was fun. School got out early so the farm kids could get home before the roads were unpassable. Unpassable spellchecks as not-a-word, and my editor hates that, but I swear that’s what they call snowed-in roads in the country.

The blizzard was fun. I tucked in my goats and then my kids and then Melissa, who is from Texas, needed extra layers and long underwear to sleep. I told myself it was okay that I was getting no work done. Some days are like that. All days cannot be equally productive. And anyway, I’m an ENTJ, so I’m happy as long as I’m taking charge of something—starting a company, running a family—so as long as people follow my goal, I’m just fine.

When we woke up, the blistering wind made the house feel cozy warm. I showed the kids how to build obstacle courses through their bedroom and we invented recipes for cookies that sometimes came out right.

We baked and baked until we ran out of the sprinkles.

Then I started sneaking glances through my in-box between movies that I warned the kids were too gruesome to watch. But that was before it was a snow day. Read more