In with the New Year and its new expenses.  Of course, we won’t be doing our taxes until February at the earliest…  And soon we will have to start saving for the long unpaid summer.

No, I totally don’t track these.  I don’t save for them all year.  I do use my emergency fund to pay for them.  I am all sorts of lazy.  But when you’re saving a large percentage of your income it’s ok to be all sorts of lazy.  There’s slush.

  • Car #2 needs new tires.  $400.  Much cheaper than on our bigger car!  The guy said our tires were like 11 years old… we said no, only 6 years old.  But we replaced our 5 year old tires last year on the other car with a different mechanic so we’re probably about due.  That explains the driving funny it was doing.
  • DC wants a birthday party like hir friends have had.  ~$200
  • Estimated taxes!  $1334 Federal, $426 State
  • Holiday baby sitting $200… no wait, 2nd half at the regular place got canceled so scrambling to find a second place now we’re at $300!  (That’s on top of the regular daycare we’re paying even though daycare isn’t in session.)
  • Annual HOA dues  $350
  • Our internet provider apparently hasn’t been billing us… we found out when they sent us a robocall telling us that they were going to shut us off.  That sent off a flurry of checking credit card bills and not finding our internet provider on there.  Apparently when our credit card switched numbers they weren’t able to handle that and didn’t send us a paper bill (AND our internet thing was hooked up to an old account so they didn’t send us an electronic communication either).  Maybe we should have gone with cable instead of DSL.  $200 give or take.
  • Momma needs new black shoes. Hers are almost worn out.: $70-200, depending on what I get.
  • A plus:  We scored $900 in travel vouchers by voluntarily being bumped
  • And, of course, bills from Christmas presents, end of the year donations, and all that eating out we did instead of cooking during the end of the semester madness. $amount unknown

How are you doing on end of the year/beginning of the year expenses?

Goal setting: I/O theory

For my work recently I’ve been reading a lot of psychology handbook chapters because psychologists are often decades ahead of my field in terms of behavioral theories and experiments and I’m trying to figure out what their baseline is before reinventing the wheel. In this reading, I came across a tangential (to my work) section on goal setting. With all the PF and academic bloggers setting their goals/resolutions etc. or refusing to do so, I thought it would make an interesting post to discuss what people who actually study this stuff say. (Disclaimer: I am not one of those people and my knowledge on this subject comes entirely from Diefendorff and Chandler, “Motivating Employees” in the APA Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Volume 3, 2010.)

One method of looking at “action goals and effort during goal striving” (p.89) is by breaking them down into valence, instrumentality, and expectancy. Valence is the “desirability, attractiveness, importance or anticipated satisfaction with outcomes associated with goal pursuit,” both positive and negative. Instrumentality is the expected probability that the goal will lead to the expected outcomes. Expectancy is a perceived link between effort and performance.

The interesting part about these typologies is the way the authors break down and combine these concepts to make predictions about motivation.

All three items must exist and be positive or there will be no motivation to work on a goal (they cite Vroom 1964 and Donovan 2001).

Without high valence, the goal is just not one worth pursuing. I could have a goal to be a garbage collector or an actuary, and I might be a darned good one, but really my heart is just not in it.

Without high instrumentality, you don’t think there’s a link between achieving your goal and reaching the outcome you want to reach. You may give up on paying down debt because it will take too long to get out of debt and thus see any real improvement.

If there’s high valence and high instrumentality but low expectancy, then there’s no point in working on the goal. You may really want the goal, and think that achieving the goal will lead to the right outcomes… but you don’t see how any effort in your part will lead to you reaching the goal. For instance, if any time you get ahead monetarily, one of your relatives “borrows” money from you never to return, then there is no point in saving.

Have you had any goals or resolutions break down because of low valence (turns out you didn’t really want to achieve that goal), low instrumentality (can’t make link between goal and desired outcome), or low expectancy (don’t see how your effort is going to lead to accomplishing the goal)?

What do you think of this typology? Is it missing anything big?

Also, if we didn’t link to your list of goals, feel free to drop yours in the comments section.

Q&A: Hot bed issues

Just in case you thought you liked us but didn’t realize we were flaming liberals and social libertarians.

Pro-choice vs. Pro-life:  Pro-choice

Gay marriage, pro vs. con:  Pro- (though if specific churches don’t want to marry gays in their churches, whatever… it is the civil ceremony and legal rights we care about)

Blame the patriarchy vs. blame the oppressed:  IBTP

Paper vs. plastic vs. cloth:  Cloth but don’t feel guilty when we forget, use paper when we need the bags and say we don’t care otherwise

Soda vs. Pop:  Soda

Cats vs. Dogs:  Cats

Anything regarding sports:  Who TF cares?

Whitewashing book covers:  against

Fancy shoes:  We are as divided on this question as we are on the mushroom question.

Feeding kids so they don’t grow up to be useless criminals:  Pro-

Mac vs. PC:  PC (but we’re not mac haters or anything)

Cell vs. Landline:  this is like mushrooms too

Boxers vs. briefs:  we are laaaaydies

Elitist vs. humble yourself:  definitely elitist

Do ya still like us, bless our progressive little hearts?

Do you have an interesting X vs Y to share?

The baby food lie

When your baby hits 6 months, your pedi will start pushing lists of what to feed your baby when.  Many of them just go by these lists that say to start at 6 months and don’t even bother with the signs of readiness (e.g. a baby is not ready for solids if when you push food in it comes right back out… that’s called the tongue thrust reflex and it is for baby’s protection).

They’ll then say, start with manufactured rice cereal.  Then move to another cereal, then another.  Then you get to try banana and on and on.  One food at a time, every three days you get to try a new food off some list.  The AP books have a different list suggesting starting with avocado, banana, or I think mango (or was it sweet potato) as a first food.

The baby manufacturers push expensive tiny jars of puree on you.  The maternal guilt producing industry says you must make your own lovingly hand pureed organic baby food from local fruits and veggies using recipes from Super Baby Food.

It turns out there is ZERO SCIENCE on what foods to feed babies when.  In fact, as made a big splash when my little one was tiny, different cultures have different first foods… some of them even eat meat first and chicken has many signs of being a great first baby food.

Part of the reason for the slow introduction is because of concerns about allergies.  If your baby has an allergic reaction, they want to be able to isolate exactly which food caused it.  Of course, they still don’t know whether early introduction causes allergies or prevents them in the case of common allergens such as peanuts.  That science goes back and forth.  (Disclaimer:  You should still wait to introduce things that have a low probability of causing problems but would cause dire problems … like honey (botulism), raw milk (all sorts of nasties) etc. etc.)

As we found out when our own wee one started grabbing every food in sight, you do not need to buy Super Baby Food and lovingly create your own individualized homemade organic food.  You also don’t need to buy the little jars.  The baby can eat what you eat, period.  And if your baby is a late eater like ours was (around 8.5 months), you don’t even need to run what you’re eating through a food mill.  You can just cut it small and make sure it isn’t a choking hazard.

That’s right.  We skipped baby food entirely.  The only mushy foods ze ate were things that come mushy naturally.  Banana.  Oatmeal.  Avocado.  When the pincer grasp kicked in ze demanded to eat only things ze could pick up anyway.

Baby food is such a time sink.  It was so freeing to find out that this whole baby food puree thing that so many parents get worked up over is just one big scam.  Unnecessary.  Maybe if you’ve got a baby ready for solids right at 6 months, but even then, just get a food mill and run whatever you’re having for dinner through it while you eat.  Much simpler.  Apparently there’s also a mesh bag you can buy to put whole fruit in for the 6 month set to suck on without choking.

I believe you can find out more about this hippie movement through the google search phrase “child led weaning.”  Lazy parenting rocks!

#2 adds:  don’t get rid of that baby food mill, either.  You will need it when you have oral surgery and are tired of jello.

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How to reduce unwanted junk mail/calls

It’s been a while and the catalogues etc. have begun to build up again.  So here’s a reminder since I have to find out how to do it anyway of how to get off all those mailing lists.

credit card offers:  www.optoutprescreen.com

do not call list:  https://www.donotcall.gov/

direct marketing:  https://www.dmachoice.org Though many websites warn that they’ll spam your email box instead so be careful what email address you give.

And of course you can individually call catalog companies.  Our previous residents must have really been into Victoria’s Secret.

Here’s a wikihow

Update: Debbie M in the comments suggests “Catalog Choice (http://www.catalogchoice.org). You enter information from your shipping label.”


What did you get for Christmas?

My overly generous in-laws got me a kindle.  I’m a bit overwhelmed!  There’s all sorts of wonderful free books… there’s Wodehouse on there and turns out Mary Roberts Reinhart didn’t just write spooky stuff… she’s got some hilarious romances too!  All for free instantly!  If only I were independently wealthy and didn’t have to work…

My mom got me exactly what I want:  stuff off my amazon wish list.  Mmmm books, dvds… happiness!

#2 got me more stuff on my amazon wishlist that says “highest” and “high” and a few things she thinks I need to read.  I went to try to buy her stuff, but all the stuff I want to get her is available now or soon in paperback but she’s got the hardback versions on her wishlist with a note saying “placeholder for paperback” … I’m trying to strongly hint to her to update that and um, she may be getting a package from me a bit later than usual.  I’m a putz.  Update:  Things were updated and sent!

DH got me an incredibly romantic sappy homemade object d’art that made me blush and get misty eyed.  DC did something similar with DH’s help.

DC made out like a bandit once again.  I cannot even enumerate the packages (s)he received from family.  (S)he’s currently with my sister setting up the Wii Fit attachment (to go with the Wii that came randomly this summer).  DH got a ton of stuff off his amazon wishlist (for some reason his family is happier to shop off his list than mine… maybe his is more interesting) and some t-shirts.

Did you get anything especially fun, interesting, or funny?

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Merry Christmas!

Ok, so in our about when we said that we’re of one mind except the issue of mushrooms?

We lied.

One of us loves eggnog.

The other thinks it tastes like hate.


NYTimes gives lower fat alternatives.

Sheldon explains how one of us feels at length.

And to all a good night!

Click for more pics

p.s.  Check out Simon’s cat over there on our blog sidebar for a little holiday goodness.

p.p.s.  And this delightful number from Christopher Niemann.

p.p.p.s  How Kenny Loggins ruined Christmas for Hyperbole and a Half.

p.p.p.p.s  A little Greek grinchiness from Christmas-hater Worst Prof Ever.

p.^5s  We were in this week’s Carnival of Personal Finance.

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Video games and me

My wonderful partner is a gamer (both of ours are, actually).  He plays video games, D&D, etc.  Since I like to snuggle with him on the couch, I have watched quite a bit of video gaming.  I never play myself, though.  It seems kind of tedious and I don’t have the eye-hand coordination for it (since I didn’t grow up doing it).  Studies show that video gamers are actually better at attention tasks than most other people!

Even though I only watch, usually, I still have opinions about games that I like and don’t like.  And a few times I have actually played some things on the Wii, due to ease of control.  I thought WiiSports was totally fun — well — fun until I hyperextended my elbow playing frisbee.  Oops.  We also tried Super Mario Galaxy, which was again fun, especially the team-play aspect that let me be a backup player to his more experienced play.  The parts I had trouble with were the parts where I had to jump.  It turns out that, in video games as in life, I have only rudimentary jumping abilities.

Most recently, we tried Kirby’s Yarn Adventure.  The thing that made me stop playing was the discovery that leveling isn’t linear.  At first, each level is ok and I am finally starting to get the hang of it when WHAM!  the next level is way, WAY harder and I can never manage it (for values of “never” meaning “I am too lazy”). (#2 says:  They do that on purpose, it says so in my partner’s book on game design.  That’s how they get less-lazy people trapped.)

Flying pirate ship in Rogue Galaxy, hell yeah!

My favorite game, which I watched my partner play hours and hours of several years ago, remains Rogue Galaxy on the PS2.  Here are the things I like about it:

  • When you kill enemies and get coins, they are given to you all in a lump at the end.  Therefore you don’t have to run around picking them up, which is distracting, as in Kingdom Hearts.
  • The game has great music.  It’s a real trick to play, say, the same going-into-battle music or the same running-around-this-planet music over and over and over and have me not get sick of it!
  • The mechanisms of combat are not annoying.  There’s a mix of environments to keep it interesting.
  • For the most part the characters were not too annoying (except the Jar-Jar guy) and the game is more female-focused than usual, though it is still a male-focused game.

Look, women

  • Importantly, it had an innovative collecting system where you find items and have to strategize how to put them together to open up new items

  • Somehow I got into the story and made him wait for me to finish it.  That NEVER happens!  The game is pretty, too, though not as pretty as, say, Kingdom Hearts.  Bioshock on the PC was very pretty too.

#2 says:  Some of you have already heard my sad saga of why I can’t play video games anymore.  To recap:  DH leaves for a conference.  Day 1:  I work until 6pm, then play Neverwinter Nights until 10 or so.  Day 2:  I work until noon, then play Neverwinter Nights until midnight or so.  Day 3:  I play Neverwinter Nights until DH gets home and I’ve beaten it on Day 5 (or was it 6 or 7?  It is all a blur…), wondering why I smell bad and don’t appear to have eaten or blinked in several days.  Video game privileges revoked as apparently I have no self-control.  It is a wonder I ever made it to the bathroom (assuming I did).


  • Dear people on Etsy:  I don’t think “upcycled” means what you think it means.
  • Dear people on Craigslist: “vintage” and “antique” are not quite the same as “old and gross”.  Likewise “shabby chic”.
  • Canvas grocery bags shrink a lot in the wash.
  • Even if you have decided you don’t want the job, it is probably not a good idea to go to the dinner pre-drunk and start with the f-word every third sentence (even if you’re CPP!).  Bonus points for not telling your dinner companions what you think of them before dessert comes.
  • Not a rant:  But I kind of like being busy but not stressed.  (It’s the busy and stressed or not busy and stressed that I hate!)
  • DC sings “Why why why why” to the tune of frere Jacques.  Hir favorite word, even when spoken not sung.
  • Ranting against negativity is astonishingly negative.
  • A relative paid for a year of storage.  Finally he went to the facility to take stuff out… and he ended up just tossing it all because he didn’t want any of it anymore.  It was all junk he was storing for no reason.  (Well, junk and the comic books DH had forgotten he’d lent him and had wondered what happened to… that was a nice reunion)
  • I hate it when famous people scoop me on research I’ve been working on for a long time.  I’m so fricking slow.  I hate it.  Hate.
  • But I’m lazy and that sucks too.
  • As do teaching
  • and service
  • and people who try to guilt trip me into thinking there’s something wrong with resenting the massive amounts of time the aforementioned two sucks take

How did you meet your sig other?

Mine was alone in an open room at high school mooning over a girl he’d asked to a dance but she wasn’t interested.  (Later she came out as a lesbian, explaining how she could possibly be immune to DH’s considerable charms.)  I had a conversation with him and wished him best of luck.  I thought he was kind of goofy then (and I was dating someone else).  I didn’t see  him again until months later when his friend was throwing me a 16th birthday party.

Then his friend kept inviting us to regular group activities.  Then the other members of the group would have something else to do and it was just me and DH.  He talked about role playing games as if they’d been actual conquests and I thought he was entertaining but a huge nerd.  Somewhere along the way I dumped my then-boyfriend after having a great weekend when then-boyfriend was gone for pre-frosh weekend at Caltech.  Then DH kissed my hand one day and I realized he was a guy and attractive and fun to be around and I fell in love right then and there.  It took some time for DH to feel the same way, though I’d had no idea he didn’t right away.  He says now that he was an idiot who didn’t think any girl would ever like him, but I dunno.

We got in trouble a lot for making out.  They even contacted our parents once.

We decided to take a break for college, because we’d seen so many couples torn apart by the stress of trying to stay together.  We went to different schools.  I dated a series of losers.  He didn’t date anyone (despite lots of attractive women passing by saying, “Hiiiiiiii DeeeeAiiiich” whenever I visited… he’d say, “Oh, I helped her with a computer program… not sure what her name is.”).  We decided we were meant for each other junior year and got engaged senior year.  Got married right out of college and never looked back.  Best thing that has ever happened to me.

How did you meet yours?