link love

Another great post about the poor vocal majority being afraid of getting their feefees hurt (thus silencing the already persecuted minority).  And another one.

Also, in today’s edition of eff the police.  WTH is wrong with police systems that police are allowed to torture?  The police system in this country needs some serious leadership.  We can support the police AND support systems that keep police officers from torturing civilians at the same time.  With great power should come great responsibility.  Also, earlier this week’s F the police.  I thought police officers had to fill out paperwork and go through training and crap every time they pulled out a gun, but apparently I believe what I see on detective shows too much.

What Silicon Valley thinks of women.

This article seriously upset my DH and we’re never ever giving money to them again.  Here‘s some more articles.  Then he read about Gamergate and feels terrible and helpless.  :/

Amoral football hypocrites.

online wedding dress shopping risks

Unvaccinated kids are a serious threat to kids with weakened immune systems.  Why not to vaccinate.  Updated Jenny McCarthy body count.

For want of a nail.

“Sometimes I think I should have been a Ravenclaw, you know? I think I’d look pretty f*cking darling in blue.””

An excellent example of the journal Science not understanding reverse causation (or, more likely, OVB with the OV being $$$$$$$$$$)

if you like mary balogh

Clergy mugshots for target practice

How to fall asleep

The SF bay area is so inventive!

Great googly moogly

Q:  our parents grew up in much better world than we did??

A:  Let’s see here… Jim Crow, Cold War, MadMen… No, no, I don’t think so.  (And for my father:  great depression, Nazi bombings…)

Q:  what kind of husband is an engineer

A:  The best kind

Q:  why mr money mustache sucks

A:  Because he has a limited viewpoint and his life doesn’t resemble yours?  Possibly because you have different values and different circumstances?

Q:  why don’t i agree with laura vanderkam

A:  Because she has a limited viewpoint and her life doesn’t resemble yours?  Possibly you work outside the house for the Man and have a scheduled work environment and your spouse doesn’t make a hefty six-figure salary?

Q:  how do people not become miserable in an environment of misery

A:  Resilience of spirit?

Q:  is tiaa-cref a rip off?

A:  not usually

Q:  why do people deliberately try to make things hard to understand?

A:  Because it makes them seem smarter to people who don’t know any better.

Q:  how to live on a 600k inheritance

A:  Choice 1:  move to my husband’s hometown, buy a small house with a nice plot of land to garden on, learn to can, spend very little money.  Choice 2:  Keep your dayjob and put that money in a target-date fund or in a mix of stocks and bonds.

Q:  monthly allowance for upper-middle class

A:  This is going to vary a lot and it’s going to depend on what you use it for.  If, for example, all of your eating out budget comes from it, then you’ll need a different amount than if none of your meals come out of it.  If you’re just looking for a number, DH has $35/week and gets $350 at each of Christmas and his birthday.

Q:  why does my gifted son need so much more sleep

A:  Luck?  Maybe he’s getting challenged enough.  Or maybe he’s growing.  Or maybe he’s missing some kind of vitamin.

The 7-min February Challenge

My sister convinced me to do this one.  It’s 7 min, she said.  There’s an app for it that you can download to your iPad, she said.

Of course, I actually looked up the 7 min workout and it isn’t really 7 min– you’re supposed to do 3 or 4 repetitions of it, which brings you to 21 or 28 min, really (not counting resting).

But 7 min of intense exercise is 7 min more than I am currently doing, and I’m fairly sure it will be challenging enough for me that I’ll be getting some health benefit, at least initially.  I am willing to bet it will push me beyond my normal endurance.  We’ll see.  (You’ll see.)

So what is this 7 min workout?  It’s this thing that the NYTimes popularized in this article.  You do a whole bunch of stuff very intensely for a short amount of time.  It is unpleasant, but relatively brief.   You can download the app here.  (Yes, I know it has plenty of detractors with valid reasons for detracting.  And no, I won’t push myself beyond mildly unpleasant because no, I don’t want to hurt myself.  Also I will allow myself a day off each week if I think I need to heal.)

Why am I doing it?  Because it’s winter and I’m a lump because the pool is closed and it’s cold outside.  This seems like as good a challenge as any.  And I can take 7 min out of my day (most likely after work) to torture myself for 28 days straight.  We’ll see if that leads to anything else in the future.

For those who haven’t been following us forever, why February?  Because February is the best month for challenges!  January may have that post-holiday guilt and new year optimism, but February has the bigger benefit of being shorter.

Note from #2:  My partner did the 7-minute circuit one time and it’s a doozy of hellish awfulness.  Feel free to modify to your own ability level!  Definitely start with only one 7-minute cycle.  I can’t even make it through one of them.  I am a wuss.  I am ok with that.  But 7 minutes is not very long to put up with things for a long-term gain! [EDIT: he says he actually did it 5 times before I saw him in his state of exhaustion.  So it’s not *that* bad.]

Anyone else doing February challenges?

Updates

Because everybody cares about my life as much as I do.  (Not really!)

Daycare:

After one week at the new daycare, DC2 decided ze loved it.  Ze proudly proclaimed that ze had friends and named some.  Dropping off only took a little lingering.  After two weeks, ze stopped having nightmares.  Dropoffs became, “Yeah mom, bye, whatever” (though more in body language than words) and instead of clinging and crying ze complained about getting hugged if my coat was wet from rain.  Ze informed us that ze loves hir teachers.  Every day when we pick hir up ze says, “I had a good day.”  Since starting, hir eczema has also been entirely gone, which makes me suspect that they’re a lot better about making sure that ze doesn’t accidentally eat wheat.  Either that or there’s some topical allergen ze isn’t being exposed to in the new place (that just happened to not always be present at the old place).

High quality daycare is amazing and awesome.  What a difference!  I am a bit worried about next year though… I feel like we haven’t quite been fair with DC2 compared to DC1 who never had to experience a bad schooling experience.

Nice kitty who sometimes pees on cloth:

So far we’ve tried having 4 litterboxes for 2 kittens (6 litterboxes for 3 cats, but the other two are in the utility room instead of the master bathroom the kittens use as home base).  One covered litterbox (formerly 2 covered litterboxes), 3 uncovered.  3 with standard litter, 1 with special pine litter.  Different depths of litter.  Scooped every single night whether they need it or not.

They stay in the master bathroom (~100 sq feet, lots of windows, cupboards, scratching posts, a cat house, etc.) overnight until the late afternoon.  This keeps our older kitty from feeling overwhelmed and has allowed us to minimize pee damage.  They’re used to it and willingly go back to their home-base at night when it’s time to go.  If we let them out earlier they often just stay in the room.

We’ve tried not leaving cloth out, for example, putting our bedsheets away before letting the kittens out.

We’ve tried litter retraining (not letting the kittens out of the master bathroom while we’re out of town for a few days).

All of these have worked to decrease the amount of peeing on things, but none eliminated it.

The most recent thing that we still have our fingers crossed for was Prozac.  Nice kitty did not like being pilled at all, and while on Prozac she would hide from us and mostly stay under our bed or in the master bath during their family time.  The vet said to try it for two weeks.  During those two weeks she didn’t pee on anything (other than the litter, presumably), even though it seemed to make her more anxious rather than less anxious!

After the two weeks, we stopped the Prozac, because nice kitty really hated being pilled, and the vet said it was possible that even after stopping Prozac after the two weeks her peeing on cloth habit might also be gone.  So far so good.  But we keep waiting to find something peed on.

So those are my updates.  Fun times.

February Mortgage Update: Moving Money Around

Last month (January):
Balance:$31,114.84
Years left: 2.25
P =$1,079.06, I =$135.34, Escrow =$788.73

This month (February):
Balance:$28,026.73
Years left: 2.083333333333
P =$1,091.24, I =$123.16, Escrow =$788.73

One month’s prepayment savings: $7.90

Still pre-paying the mortgage.  But I did make one other big change right before the New Year.

Usually I do all my retirement stuff from September to September, ignoring the tax year.  But 2015 (and 2016) we’re going to be paying half of our taxes in a state with super high income tax.  So it makes sense to get our taxable income down a bit.  So I’m switching to 100% traditional 403b instead of half Roth.  On top of that, the 403b/457 amounts that you can save went up by $500, so I’m increasing the amount saved.

I was thinking about how on half my salary next year, we may [will] not be able to max out retirement *and* pay for health insurance and benefits simply because my gross pay once taxes are taken out may not be enough to cover all of that.  (DH’s retirement options suck.  Though our income might be down enough next year to be able to do a Roth again, something to keep in mind.)  So here we are making extra money now that we don’t need right now, but next academic year we may not be making enough to bring home any take-home pay from my paycheck if we keep things as they are now.

We already have a lot of cash just sitting in savings waiting to be turned into rent and deposits and daycare payments and state sales tax payments and all those things that we can’t afford on DH’s salary alone next year.  It doesn’t make any sense to just keep stock-piling in there when we can pile extra money into retirement savings *this* (school) year and keep money in the paycheck *next* (school) year.

So that’s what I’m doing.  I sent in the form to completely max out my 2015 403(b) from January to May (18K/5 = 3.6K/mo for the rest of the school year).  I still haven’t sent in my 457 plan increase because I’m not sure we’re going to be able to afford to do both plans for 2015– it’s going to depend on housing and schooling options.  If it turns out we *can* afford to keep adding to the 457 for 2015, then we should still be able to pay just it (and health insurance etc.) and still have at least some take-home pay left over.

So… from Jan [Feb paycheck] to May we will be:  Prepaying the mortgage, maxing out my 403b in the traditional option, saving to (but not maxing out) the 457 (half Roth/half traditional), and putting any extra $ in cash.  In May we will stop any substantive mortgage prepayment.  In September we will re-evaluate the 457 situation and decide whether or not we can afford to save to that option or not while we’re living in paradise.

I had been planning on having >80K in savings before we moved to Paradise (because we are going to be spending more than we earn this next school year), but now it is going to be less than that.  However, I will be getting half-salary (yay!) and (as of this change) won’t be making any 403b contributions during that time period, so our monthly take-home pay will be higher next year than I had been planning on when I set that savings target.

So, go me for shifting things around some.  I hope I’m making the right decisions and doing the right things.  I think we’ll be getting some pretty significant tax savings for the year from putting all this money in a traditional 403(b).  And I think we’ll still be in pretty good shape, so long as DH doesn’t lose his job.  (And if he does lose his job, Paradise is probably the best place for him to be to find a new one right away.)

[UPDATE:  I may be doing completely the wrong thing– I had assumed we would be counted as residents because of someone’s previous experience, but it looks like there are significant differences between that experience and this one (namely that I will not be getting any Paradise income during this time frame).  If I’m only temporary, then I should be funneling all our money into the ROTH choice to take advantage of lower tax rates.  If I’m a part-year resident, then I should not be maxing out my retirement now, but trying to make my take-home pay as low as possible when we’re in Paradise.  I think we need to talk to an actual tax professional about this stuff.]

UPDATE 2:  Talked to the Paradise tax board.  They are very confident that we will be nonresidents.  “You are not planning on a permanent move, it’s temporary.”  Which means a lot of the choices I’ve made (like timing donations, changing the IRA), were not great choices.  But hey, maybe one of my grants will hit and I’ll get summer salary.  I wonder if I should change the 403b back…

UPDATE 3:  Talked to someone in almost my exact situation from two years ago, and ze didn’t have to pay Paradise state income tax either.

What are your 403b/401K/457/IRA plans for the year?

Have you loved a link lately?

Why measles really is a big deal.  Why the quarantine for measles is critical and the quarantine for ebola was not.

10 abortion myths. 8 women talk about why roe vs. wade has mattered to them.

Standard responses you can use to common comments on feminist blogposts.

Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander

Warning labels on walmart products

Pictures of 1950s segregation.

Peer review.

Unexpected.

May I help you riff

Musings on coaching and advising.

Wandering scientist discusses becoming herself.

Historiann discusses Mount Holyoke College cancelling The Vagina Monologues.

take me to church has a WHOLE different meaning than I thought, and here’s the meaning behind the Hanging Tree song.  Sorry we can’t give you any deep meaning behind Lips are Movin, though it’s interesting the Meghan Trainor only became a pop singer after trying to sell All about that Bass failed, at least according to Wikipedia…

Rebecca Watson is totally cool and I want to be friends with her.

How to tell if you are in a high fantasy novel.  Also Mallory Ortberg columns have the BEST comments on the entire internet.

Yes.  Unequivocally yes.

Not sure how I feel about this trailer.

Sometimes I just have to read the antimustachian wall of shame and comedy.  Also, don’t buy stuff you can’t afford.

Kristin Wong‘s new website.  Walter Updegrave’s new website.

apostrophes matter

dean dad on privilege and a room of one’s own

this made me literally LOL

#2 notes that she really likes the writing over at Mike the Mad Biologist.  #1 has probably been reading that site longer, but thinks he’s a bit unfair in the way he paints all economists with the same brush, especially when he goes on his semi-regular anti-economics screeds.  It’s like saying all biologists believe what evolutionary psychologists believe.

A day in the life of baby groot.

Summer camps for gifted kids and teens

this is adorbs

Ask the grumpies: favorite recipes

Debbie M asks

What’s your favorite recipe and why?

 

Oh gee, one doesn’t have a favorite recipe, I don’t think.  And the things I make over and over again I don’t use recipes for.  So me saying spaghetti with meat sauce … well, that doesn’t really come with a recipe.  (Slice an onion, saute it.  Add garlic.  Add ground beef.  Stir.  Throw in a jar of spaghetti sauce if there’s any in the pantry.  If not, throw in whatever canned tomato product you have and some amount of basil/oregano/garlic salt/italian seasoning/etc.  Add tomato paste if it needs thickening.  Cook until the right consistency.  Serve over spaghetti.)  Why spaghetti?  Because it’s delicious and easy to make on a weeknight and has all the necessary food groups– meat, tomato sauce, onions, and pasta.

Now, DH has a favorite recipe– his grandmother’s rolls.  These come with a long history, but basically his grandma made them for every family function and nobody else makes them the same way.  DH’s aunt finally videotaped and measured every step to get a recipe for the family so the rolls would still be around even after DH’s grandma left.  The resulting recipe is close but still not quite the same.  DH made many batches of rolls trying to figure out what small changes needed to be made to get it just right.  And he finally succeeded.

DH’s grandma’s rolls:

1 1/4 cup warm water
1 cup scalded cooled milk (no longer need to scald)
2 tsp salt
2 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 package yeast
5 1/2 cups flour or enough so it won’t be sticky.

Beat yeast in warm water. Add salt, sugar, and oil. Add milk. Stir in flour. Knead. Place in greased container. Let rise 1-2 hours. Knead again. Make into buns. If sticky, roll in flour. Dunk buns individually in oil and place in greased pan. Let rise one hour. Bake 30 min at 350 F. When done, rub with oleo.

DH’s notes: Second knead is light. Skimp on oil for dunking. Makes 12 buns.

Of course, now we make our own hybrid with whole-wheat flour (which doesn’t rise as high if you substitute more than one cup) and butter instead of “oleo”. And he often makes 16 small buns instead of 12 ginormous ones.

Why is this is favorite recipe?  Because it tastes like love, but doesn’t quite have the sugar load of her cinnamon rolls or her strawberry jam (which are also great, but very sweet).  And they’re longer lasting than her noodles which really have to be eaten fresh.

#2 also doesn’t have a favorite recipe, but when pressed admits to anything over pasta.  Why?  Because it is delicious.

Grumpy Nation, share your favorite recipes and reasonings!