Even more google questions

Q: sohcahtoa rhyme

A: Sin Sin Cos Cos Tan Tan… oh gee, I really can’t remember it anymore. But I also think it’s probably a little racist (in the way that camp songs from the 1950s were racist against Native Americans) and best not remembered. It’s not like it was particularly helpful anyway. I always remember that sin is on top and opposite is on top and tan doesn’t use the hypotenuse, so sin is opp/hyp, cos is what’s left which is adj/hyp, and then tan is opp/(what’s left) adj. Then it’s easy to remember that Tan = sin/cos, later when you start hardcore trig. In terms of the sum and difference formulas, nobody remembers those and I hope you get a cheat sheet on your exam. For the 360 degree thing, I like the handy menomic device: All Students Take Calculus. All are positive in the first quadrant, Sin is positive in the second, Tan is positive in the third, and Cos is positive in the fourth. (Thank you to my ex-boyfriend who taught me that, along with a horrible misogynist rhyme for remembering the colors of resistors, which is something I will likely never need to know.)

Q: comparison between investing in tiaa cref adn edward jones

A: STAY AWAY FROM EDWARD JONES!!!! TIAA CREF is actually pretty good in terms of having your best interests at heart. They’re not quite Vanguard, but they’re not particularly evil. Definitely TIAA CREF. They’re relatively low fee. Edward Jones is extremely high fee. TIAA CREF won’t push you into funds just because they line their pockets. Edward Jones will.

Q: do accountants make a good spouse

A: My MIL thinks so.

Q: how to accuse someone of lying without saying the words

A: I’m a fan of the raised eyebrow

Q: do college professors have to stay on campus dueing the summer

A: Usually no. Usually they’re not even on contract or getting paid. (They’re just doing work.)

Q: is 3 b’s in graduate school bad

A: I sure hope not!

Q: 10. what is the purpose of having insurance?

A: Yeah, this is in no way part of a take-home exam or assignment. No possible way.

Q: who do you call cutie patootie

A: My little snuggle bug. My big snuggle bug is too big for that.

Q: how to be a less grumpy mother?

A: Get more sleep?

Q: how to spend your last days of your life blog

A: Sounds like a really depressing idea for a blog. But maybe it could be inspirational.

Losing touch with friends: Drama or No biggie: A deliberately controversial post

Occasionally we’ll see a blog post or forum post in which the woman (and it’s always a woman) complains that her friends have lost touch with her and that means they’re horrible selfish people.

All of our really good friendships are ones in which people go in and out with no harm no foul. People get busy, lose touch, and when we reunite it’s like we never left off, even if it’s been 10 years.

We assume the best of everybody we (temporarily) lose touch with and assume they’re assuming the same for us.  It’s just easier that way. If that’s not what’s happening, then no big loss. The only people in our lives who get to act offended and have us take that seriously if we unintentionally ignore them are our significant others, and for #1, my kids (in theory also my mom or my sister, but they’re pretty chill so I can’t imagine that ever happening). I should not be important enough to anybody else’s well-being for me being busy to cause them to take personal offense. It’s not like this is middle school or like we’re living lives of socialites with nothing better to do but create drama.

But I do know from reading the internet that there are people who take strong offense to other people losing touch with them (or not calling, or failing to answer a text right away etc. etc. etc.). Those people are far too dramatic (or, more positively, not laid back enough) to be my friends.  Which is probably best for everybody involved.

What do you think?  Should people take offense if their friends lose touch with them?  Do you?

Recommendations for soothing novels?

You know, the kind where nothing truly bad happens, and you know everything is going to turn out ok in the end.  There’s no awful things done to women of any sort.  Any murder is off-stage before the book starts or is a murder of someone nobody (including the reader) liked.  Any dreadful dark secrets are things that happened literally centuries ago.  Often the worst thing that happens is nothing more dangerous than embarrassing oneself at a party.  Despite what Google wants me to think, they don’t have to be mystery novels!

Sometimes they’re delightful.  Sometimes they’re calming.  Sometimes they’re life-affirming.  Sometimes they’re quality, but often they’re popcorn.  The kind of book you’re not rushing to end, and you wish you could get back to during a stressful day.

Savor these:

Authors like Barbara Michaels (more than her Elizabeth Peters persona, who is excellent but not so cozy), Jane Austen, the always-beloved Georgette Heyer, and similar imitators.

Some make equally cozy movies– Cold Comfort Farm, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, The Enchanted April.

Connie Willis has a couple:  The perfect To Say Nothing of the Dog, and the more modern Bellwether.

Martha Wells! But not her more recent stuff which is dramatic and not everything works out neatly and perfectly.  But #2 just finished and really liked City of Bones. Recommended!

Kismet is fun.  :)  And the music!  And The Importance of Being Earnest.  And the Matchmaker (from whence Hello Dolly! came).  Also all excellent movies.  Well, maybe not Kismet (we may never know, as most of the movies have been lost to the sands of time), but it has a great operatic soundtrack…actually two.

Stranger at the Wedding by Barbara Hambly is a bit on the intense side for this topic (#1 thinks it’s totally appropriate, along with Bride of the Rat God which kind of fits in with Scalzi’s Agent to the Stars), but A College of Magics by Caroline Stevermer is just right. (As is Sorcery and Cecelia and some of Diana Wynne Jones. Often YA is a great place for this stuff.  A lot of Nina Kiriki Hoffman stuff is life-affirming, though NOT Fall of Light which is triggery and victim-blamey) #2 has re-read the first few books of Amber in The Great Book of Amber compilation a bunch of times. Basically I find the throne war fascinating but I’m meh on the stuff that comes after. (TEAM BENEDICT 4 EVAR!)

I feel like we should have some Chick Lit here, but I never keep the Chick Lit so I don’t really know any titles.  There were a bunch of Chick Lit vampire books that we sent back and forth to each other, but I’m blanking on titles (Dead girls don’t…?).

#2 adds that Dune (#1  Dune?  Really?) and Jane Eyre are both soothing to me after years of many re-reads.  A lot of Mercedes Lackey is questionable but Arrows of the Queen and Owlsight are both familiar and therefore soothing.  Lord Peter Wimsey novels by Sayers.  Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman, because it’s nonfiction about books, which is the most soothing of all.  Sometimes nonfiction works out nicely because it’s not necessarily about any characters getting bashed on.  I also appreciate Amanda Cross’s Kate Fansler mysteries because they are full of the main character being in her head, and I am too.  You can be sure that justice and harmony will prevail in Dee Goong An (Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee).  And of course, the queen of the cozy mystery, Agatha Christie.

I need more of these.  MORE.

Gentle readers, please give me recommendations!

529 plans and astonishment at compounding

Club thrifty had a post recently about funding her kids’ college education, which caused me to take a look at how my kids’ 529 plans are doing.  We’ve been putting in $500/mo since each of them was born.  At the time of writing this (though not the time of posting), DC1 is 7.5 years old.

So if we’d just put $500/mo away in our mattress, we’d have $45,000.  That’s a lot of money, and would currently fund in-state tuition for four years at many state schools without any aid.

That’s not how much my 7.5 year old has in hir 529.  How much is in there, do you ask?  $69,874.56.

Let me say that again.

$69,874.56

That means the stock market and compounding has added something like $25,000!

~$25,000 just because we put $500/mo in the stock market instead of in a mattress (or instead of spending it!)

Doing this exercise has given me a few scattered thoughts.

1.  Compound interest from stocks over a long period of time is AMAZING. It’s just in one of the Vanguard target date funds from the Utah system, so we’re really just matching the market with a little bit of adjusting to bonds as ze gets older.

2.  This kind of thing is how the rich get richer.  The best truly passive income is reaping profits from the sweat of the proletariat.   Rent-seeking is where it’s at.  Getting those returns to capital.  The poor get poorer by comparison because they have to spend their money to live and can’t have their money make money.  It’s terrible.  At the same time, as a member of the upper middle class, it’s something we need to do to keep from sliding down the income/wealth scale.  Because if you only have a choice between rich and poor, it’s better to be rich.  We need major political change in this country.  Yes, charitable donations are nice, but the entire system needs a new Great Society overhaul.

3.  Sacrificing early and starting early with savings is the way to go.  We never really felt the $500/mo cut to our income because it coincided with our employment.  We made our decisions based on a smaller income.  When you get a new job, if you can max out your retirement funding before you get used to the higher paycheck, that’s definitely the way to go.  (Of course, high interest debt is also worth paying off– the trick is not to get used to a higher level of spending that you then cut down.)

4.  I don’t think it’s time to stop contributing yet.  We suspect DC1 will end up going to a private school (or, less likely, an out of state public that costs just as much).  Right now with both of us employed we’re in the middle area of whether or not we’d be considered for any financial aid at all, and there’s that hope that by the time DC1 gets to college we’ll be in the “no financial aid based on income alone” bracket (we can dream, right?).  If not, we still have time between our two kids to adjust based on what kind of aid the eldest gets or doesn’t get.  If DC1 gets aid, then we simply stop contributing to DC2’s plan at that point.

5.  Because of the way that financial aid is calculated, most people should max out their retirement savings before contributing to a 529.  We’re doing that now, but we weren’t doing that this entire time because we had *too* much room for retirement and didn’t realize that DH would be getting a better job that paid more, so we didn’t put away all 72K/year that we could have, figuring we’d need some of that money to pay for college! [Note:  For those who haven't been following our finances for the past few years, DH no longer works for the government so we can no longer put away anywhere near 72K for retirement because he no longer has a 457 option or a second 403b option, just a really lousy 401K with high fees and a lousy match.]  Yes, you can withdraw ROTH contributions to pay for college, but it would probably not be enough.  The 529 is still a much better place for your child’s money than a savings account in your child’s name, for financial aid purposes.  That’s because the 529 in your name counts as your savings whereas any savings in your child’s name is expected to go 100% to college, which cuts down financial aid from the school.

6.  Regular savings that you don’t miss because you’re used to that money not hitting your checking account really add up.  However, if you can’t afford auto-deducting any of your paycheck (though automatic retirement savings should be a priority), 529s are a great place for monetary gifts for your kids to go.  A little bit early on really does go a long way.

What are your thoughts on retirement and 529s and compounding stealth saving?  Also, how often do you look at your accounts?

Link us Your Love

Link love: the moving craziness edition, part 1. Links are a mess because of that and because #2 is swamped at work and has had all sorts of after work hours “fun” work obligations which have been causing her literal heartburn.  (Is it the catering?  stress?  too much sitting at the computer? She doesn’t know but she’d sure like to find out by not having obligations or heartburn!)

Or else possibly This Week in Patriarchy.  Unfortunately that’s like every week.

file under argh-of-the-day:
so much very horrible news

the paws! the tiny pink toes!!! http://www.breakingcatnews.com/comic/the-woman-has-a-hairball/

This is so true

science headlines we’d like to see http://the-toast.net/2014/08/27/science-headlines-like-see/

bad advisor sure gives good advice
#1 hates riding bicycles but these make good points:
here, it’s a baby … thing:
This has been all over the news, but it’s funny:
 Economics links ahoy!

http://www.salon.com/2014/07/16/i_was_poor_but_a_gop_die_hard_how_i_finally_left_the_politics_of_shame/

http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/251fa6410b/women-s-health-experts-speak-out

sometimes the economist is embarrassing .  Also, it’s really weird watching non-economists discuss Time on the Cross because it seems to be taught differently outside of economics.  In Economic History classes the main focus is that slavery was profitable (in one of my classes it was tied with literature on how serfdom was the only way to keep people in Russia from fleeing to Germany, and other forms of slavery and intimidation and horror were used to keep people working when they had better outside options if they could just leave, which they couldn’t).  This profitability argument is in contrast to the “it would have gone away by itself” argument that you sometimes hear crop up.  It wouldn’t have gone away by itself.  Then after slavery was over, they replaced that profitability with prison chain-gangs.  People say that Time on the Cross makes the argument that slaves had it better under slavery, but the focus that I remember was that slavery was awful for all of the reasons that slavery is awful, and instead of getting 40 acres and a mule and government representation as promised and as would have made a big positive difference in the lives of blacks, the South did its best to use terror to create a pseudo-slavery of share-cropping.  Slavery wasn’t “better” because it was a good thing, but share-cropping was almost as bad.  It was a failure of the government to fully reparate and protect the former slaves that lead to bad outcomes post-slavery.  Then it’s tied to Race and Schooling in the South by Bob Margo, which explains the huge economic inequalities caused by segregation.  So Time on the Cross as I learned it (in multiple classes, from different schools, including one from a Fogel student) was really an argument for Affirmative Action.

Ask the grumpies: Obligation to house a sibling?

Kellen asks:

Let’s say I have a sibling, older than me, who has received enough bail outs from our parents that they don’t want to bail this sibling out anymore. That is–they want to help, but they feel like it’s enabling said sibling to continue not standing on their own two feet.

Now, sibling just moved to a small town very far away because sibling’s partner moved there for work. Sibling has no job, no money, and maxed out credit card. Sibling would need financial help to even pay for the gas and probable car repairs needed to drive across the country to move close to the family. One suggestion from parents is that sibling must stay in the small, far away town, find a job, even if it’s bagging groceries, and save enough to pay sibling’s own way.

Now, here I am, in a very good spot in life, just made it to saving 50% of my income this month. I don’t know if it’s good for sibling to stay in this small town with no money, and learn to hold down a job, or if, as family, there’s some obligation to help sibling get to where I am and stay in my (sort of) spare room (which is really our office/living room space) while sibling finds a job around here (in the big city).

Also, sibling has a degree as an elementary school educator + a masters degree in something like team-building activities (?), but has been trying to work as a general contractor. So sibling is not completely without qualifications, but kind-of without qualifications to do the kind of work sibling likes (working outdoors, doing labor). Also, I only know people who work in offices, which sibling has 0 experience with, so I can’t really help sibling find a job.

So, this is the kind of question that if the grumpies could answer it, they’d be able to sell the answer and make millions and millions of dollars, maybe billions once you add in speaking tours and private consulting with very rich people.

In terms of whether or not you have an obligation to invite hir to where you are and stay in your spare room.  The answer there is no.  It sounds like your sibling has worn out your parents and they may be right that ze needs to figure things out before someone else comes to the rescue.  And it sounds like sibling probably isn’t in a situation where your help would actually be help rather than enabling.  Sibling is an adult.  There aren’t children involved.  Your parents have tried to help and have decided that that kind of help isn’t helpful.  What you can offer may not be helpful either.  Your parents may be right that sibling has to hit bottom and build hir way up before ze can actually make use of any help you could give.  They may be wrong, but it’s not like their decision has to be a permanent one.  Time will provide more information.

We can also tell you from personal experience that it is seriously irritating to house a user.  Housing someone like #2 when she needs it is great!  She’s thankful and does chores both asked (without complaint) and unasked and is basically a pleasant person to be around, and she gets stuff done that she came to do and so on.  Housing someone who is used to being bailed out gets seriously annoying when he doesn’t hold up his end of what he’s supposed to be doing, complains that you don’t keep the a/c low enough (and that he’s the one who has to move his car morning and evening to comply with the HOA) even though he’s not paying rent, assumes he’s staying longer than you thought you had agreed (say, until the out-of-state house sells), and wastes all his money on things like fast food.  And you get to hear how his wife won’t move to town and get a job because then she’d lose free babysitting from her mom that you suspect the mom didn’t exactly agree to.  It is super stressful.  *koff*

You do probably have a familial obligation to keep your ears open and keep in contact with your parents to make sure that someone is keeping a long-distance eye on said sibling.  But you do not have an obligation to invite hir to live with you.  And if said sibling seems to have turned things around a bit and seems to be on a path where it’s clear that you can help in some way that doesn’t have the potential to majorly blow up, then it would be nice of you to help.  And if said sibling hits a true rock bottom, it would be nice of you to help your parents pay for attorney’s costs or counseling costs or for you to help said sibling get into whatever (government or nonprofit) programs or systems that might help.

So we can’t tell you what to do, but we can give you permission not to invite your sibling to stay with you when your parents have given many second and third and fourth chances that seem to have hurt rather than helped.

What say you, grumpy nation?  Got any better advice?

A thought or two on the advice industry

Advice books and blogs and so on are, in theory, supposed to make people happier.  In reality, they often seem to create anxieties in people that they didn’t even know they had.  I suspect that’s how they make their money.  They’re the Febreeze of the book world, especially if you have (metaphorical) allergies.  This is especially true of the parenting and lifestyle self-help industries.  It is shocking the number of google questions that find our blog asking, “What happens if I don’t sleep train.”  (Answer:  nothing– your kid eventually learns to go to sleep on hir own because the human race would not have survived if people couldn’t figure out how to sleep.  It is highly unlikely that adult problems with sleeping are caused by your parents not CIO when you were a baby.)

On the one hand, these different recommendations, which are usually in the form of hard and fast rules (You must live the MMM way or the LV way or the DR way or etc. etc. etc.) might get some folks to think, “Am I happy with what I’m doing now, if not then maybe I can change something.  Here are some things I can try.”

But, on the other hand, some folks think, “I thought I was happy but I’m not following that rule and someone else says I should be so now I feel guilty and maybe I’ll follow that rule and just not understand why it makes me less happy than I was before… until someone else tells me to follow the opposite rule and it may not work out either.”  Because a lot of people are followers who like to be told what to do or don’t have whatever contrary streak one needs to resist constant assaults to their self-confidence and common sense.  And that kind of sucks.

Discuss

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