RBOC

  • DH and the kids have been making up fake tag-lines to Darkwing duck.  “I am the sludge at the bottom of your hot chocolate.” “I’m the one who is stuck to your hair when you can’t comb it”
  • All this calling I’ve been doing of my representatives has made me a lot less phone shy.  I had no problem calling my mom’s local bookstore to get her a gift certificate there (they don’t have online ordering).
  • The appropriate response at work when someone way down the hall from you and on the other side politely asks you to turn down your music is, “Sorry” and to turn it down.  It isn’t, “Seriously?” and “Where is your office?” and then to just turn it down a tiny bit so that the person still has to close hir door AND put on headphones to not hear your crappy ass music.  (Although before the combination wasn’t working.)  Nobody wants to hear your music!  This is why God made headphones.  Or you could close your own fricking door.
  • dear middle school, please stop with the random spirit days that happen about once every one and a half weeks that require dc1 to dress in different types of clothing (specific sports jerseys or hats, random colors, etc.) that zie often doesn’t have and that we are not going to remember even if zie did have them.  It was hard enough remembering spirit Fridays for things most kids have (like the school shirt, or a funny hair style) last year.  This random day element is just too much.  We have jobs.  Dc1 has homework.  Why are you doing this and why are you attaching it to a group prize so that kids who don’t or can’t participate are shamed?
  • I do not like mosquitoes.
  • dc1’s orchestra class requires hir to download an app and record a practice session.  They also required the purchase of a specific $20 t-shirt for performances.  I have to wonder if they have anything for kids who don’t have a tablet or smartphone at home or who can’t afford a $20 shirt.  And do those kids have to go up to the teachers and admit the lack of resources or does the school take kids who qualify for reduced price lunch aside?  For science class they asked for donations for students who couldn’t afford an $8 piece of equipment but nothing like that in orchestra where the demands are more expensive.  Last year in paradise things were provided to all students from the school, but a lot was paid for with $500 donations requested at the beginning of the year (half for extracurriculars, half for everything else).  No large donation requested here.
  • speaking of donations, there are so many junky school fundraisers here.  I so much prefer just cutting a check.
  • Dc2 goes to a for profit daycare but they want to expand so they’re asking us to do fundraising (they’ve also started asking us to bring in items for projects instead of providing them and they are now enforcing late fees).  I’m not sure how I feel about this.  If it were nonprofit I would happily donate, but with a for-profit I’m not so sure.
  • I bought Wonderwoman stamps.  They make me happy.  Wonder Woman!  Wonder Woman!

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Favorite books made from webcomics

If I really love a webcomic’s art and/or story, I will happily buy a book of it so that I don’t have to keep clicking and scrolling and clicking and scrolling and looking at the computer for hours on end.  These ones are worth it:

Digger: The Complete Omnibus Edition by Ursula Vernon

Gunnerkrigg Court (link goes to volume 1 but there are multiple ones out now!  #2 notes that the books themselves are beautiful, much higher quality than other webcomic books)

Strong Female Protagonist (can’t wait for book 2!)

Princeless

Breaking Cat News: Cats Reporting on the News that Matters to Cats — we will read all of these the author puts out!!!

Was Wayward a webcomic?  Anyway, that.

Girl Genius

Chickweed books (#2 thinks this one is syndicated– she used to read it in an actual newspaper)

We have more posts coming up about other books, including graphic novels and other visual media, but most of them aren’t made from webcomics.  Stay tuned!

Are we missing anything awesome here?

December Mortgage Update and Trouble in Monetary Paradise

Note:  this post was written before the election results came out.  Now there’s a lot more uncertainty than just DH’s job.

This month (November)
Balance:$3,913.33
Years left: 0.333333333
P =$1,194.19, I =$20.22, Escrow =$812.79

This month (December)
Balance:$2,714.41
Years left: 0.25
P =$1,198.91, I =$15.49, Escrow =$812.79

Whenever I start getting used to not worrying about money at all (seriously, I just paid $1.95 processing fee for DC1 to have hot school lunches for a month without trying to optimize not having to pay the processing fee again vs worrying about DC1 deciding zie wants to go back to cold lunch… not to mention not even thinking about the costs of paying for hot lunch!), something happens to add a bit of uncertainty to the mix.

For example, we get an opportunity for unpaid leave or DH decides he hates his job or etc.   So I stop not worrying and start paying attention again.

This time DH’s company has asked him (and everybody else) to take a 10% paycut for the next two months.  The boss and lead programmer are taking larger cuts.

The reason is a cash-flow problem with an underlying cause coming from employee turnover several years ago resulting in too many little starter grants and not enough longer-term big grants right now.  Once this cash-flow problem is resolved, they’ll be ok until April.  Which isn’t exactly a long time either.

We don’t need DH’s salary on top of mine for our regular expenses, but we do in order to not care about money at all.  To eat out whenever, to max out retirement, to fly to see DH’s family over Christmas instead of spending two days driving (something we’ve already committed to), to just donate money where it’s needed, and so on.

So, once again, we’re back to being glad we’ve saved a lot and not increased our expenses to match our income.  I’m not sure how this warning shock will change our spending going forward.  It seems like the 30K emergency fund in cash is still what we will want to have, but I probably ought to start aiming for that now instead of in March when the mortgage is finished.  [Update:  see previous post about how we’re just going to stockpile cash until the US government is sane again.  No 30K limit.]

Have you faced income uncertainty?  How do you deal with it?

More link love

ICYMI, here’s our activism page.  You can reach it up top right corner.  We will update it.

How to call your reps when you have social anxiety

kakistocracy

Facebook Nazis

Women strike on Dec 12th.

The number is much higher now since #2 sent this post

actiongroups

Penzy’s continues awesome

SFF reads for the stages of grief

More money leads to less Alzheimer’s.

Self-care when everything is awful

Remembering SEK

20 children’s books that celebrate diversity and social justice

matching donations to we need diverse books

Misermom on volunteering at a soup kitchen

Donna Freedman on the scent of home

If Citibank sent you a big envelope talking about binding arbitration, then you will want to opt out.

A new library comic

Breaking [cat] news

#2 has been chortling over xkcd mouseovers.

these animals are cozy

 

 

 

 

 

Ask the Grumpies: What to do for people who have lost a loved one?

First Gen American asks:

 What can you do for people who have lost a loved one after the funeral.

Our Midwestern automatic answer is: Freezable casseroles, a card, and possibly flowers. Definitely the first two.  Casserole in disposable containers they don’t have to give back to you.

Offer to walk the dog, babysit the children, hire a housecleaner.  Let the grieving person pet your cat.

If you’re close, offer to send the form letters to the creditors that say “this person died, please write off the account”.  Offer to clean the house.  Buy them the really nice kind of Kleenex that is soft.

Send Calming Manatees.

Rented Life adds:

If local, be sure to check on them, take them out for coffee after all has settled. People will flock around shortly after but a month or more out, people are back to being busy with their own lives.

What are we getting people for Christmas?

It’s that time of year again…

For my sister I got a lipstick-sized USB battery and universal USB cable.  I’ve gotten these (but different brands) at two conferences and they are just so incredibly useful.  I don’t know why they don’t come as a combined set on amazon, but after some poking around I was able to pick out a cable that looks decent, although it has a couple more connectors than she probably actually needs.  The smaller sets of connectors got worse quality reviews with the iphone connector stopping working.  Also per her request, I got her the Hamilton cd.  DC1 made a glass sushi plate at camp this summer for her as well, and I assume DC2 will give her some art.  DC2 has been doing a lot of art lately.

We got my mom a kindle last year so this year I sent her the brothers sinister  box set, a steal at $10.  Even though there’s very little murder mystery in it, I think everybody enjoys the series.  Except the first novella (A governess affair) which, sadly, isn’t as good as the rest of the series.  And a $75 gift certificate to the regional bookstore chain in her area.

My father we are getting a fancy black cherry balsamic vinegar.

FIL:  $75 gift certificate to Cabela’s as per usual.  I suspect DH gets his joy of the shopping process from his dad.

MIL:  A picture frame engraved with the names of all six(!) grandchildren.  The last time she had professional group pictures done, there were only 4, though the fifth was on the way.  We will be getting a full family photo done when we visit this year.

BIL1:  DH picked out a video game to play, Titanfall 2, and picked it up at a holiday sale for $35.

SIL1:  SIL1 thankfully populates her amazon wishlist on a regular basis.  She seems to want to become a fiction writer, so I’m torn with getting her books about writing from her list vs. novels from her list.  Usually she’s got a bunch of novels on the list that I’ve already read and enjoyed so it’s easy to get her more, but this time around she seems to have gone heavy on Ilona Andrews and Patricia Briggs, so it’s not as tempting.  I’m tempted by this adorable electric tea kettle.  But I’m going to wait to see what other people buy and if she adds anything I find more interesting as the season progresses (update:  She added the first Incryptid novel!  So I got that and also Rat Queens Volume 1).

Since Tegu blocks were so popular with our kids last year, we’re getting a set for the cousins.  We’ll also be getting some A-Z mysteries for the older child and the princess cookbook for the younger (it has surprisingly good recipes).

SIL2 and BIL2:  They make the least amount of money of DH’s siblings and they just bought a house.  We’re guessing that the lack of amazon wishlist updating is a hint that they’d be happy with money.  (Even if they just spend the amount of the check on obligatory gift giving to us.)  We did send them a house-warming check after they bought the house just as we did when BIL1 and SIL1 bought their first house, because there’s always unanticipated expenses right after purchasing and got a nice thank you card back.

The IL2’s kids are a little more difficult.  I like getting them books, but there isn’t anything right now that my own DC2 is really into which is how we usually decide what to send their oldest (who is just a little younger).  Maybe some easy readers like Hot Dog and Cat Traps and Too many dogs.  These Tug the Pup books are pretty good for early readers too.  For the younger child it’s a bit more difficult because we already gave them a lot of board books with the first child and we can’t quite remember what.  So I think we already gave a bunch of Sandra Boyntons and Dear Zoo and Where is baby’s belly button.  I’ll have to think harder on this.  I wonder if we gave them chicka chicka boom boom

Despite DH’s relative getting a new job right away, we will probably send him a check, but for $50 instead of, say, $500 [update:  DH says $100].

Target gift-cards for all the daycare ladies at daycare, probably $20/each.  And I think a gift card for $50 to half-price books for the school.  Even if we’re retrenching otherwise, it’s still important to be generous to others.

What are you getting for people this year?

We got DC2 a cell phone

DC2 is 9 and in 6th grade.  There’s a lot of extracurricular activities and so on in 6th grade and we decided we’d be more comfortable if DC2 had a way of contacting us if something fell through or there was a miscommunication about pick-up etc.

When we finally decided to bite the bullet to add hir to our plan, we discovered that Ting had added the ability to add all four of our retired outdated dumb phones to the plan.  Back last year when we switched to Ting we actually had to buy new phones which is both why it took us so long to switch and why I am now addicted to an iphone.  But we were pleasantly surprised that we didn’t have to buy a new phone this time.  Zie is using my 2 phones ago phone because it has the strongest battery (I had bought a replacement battery right before DH decided to get new free phones when we renewed our plan many years ago).

/start rant One thing that annoys me about DH’s current school (as opposed to paradise) is that they often have “bring your own devices” days.  Kids are encouraged to play with their smartphones or to bring ipads or, to a lesser extent, hand-held game systems.  DC1 doesn’t have anything like that and we made the conscious choice not to give hir a phone with such things.  I have to say I’m really annoyed about something like that that makes kids whose parents can’t afford to get them iphones or kids whose parents are crazy hippies stick out in a negative way.  Last year in paradise, each kid had an assigned notepad device (I don’t think there was one for each kid–they didn’t all use them at the same time since there were 3 classes of fifth graders), but our school district isn’t rich enough for that, I guess.  But it is rich enough to do things that could hurt poor kids.  I really appreciate how the Paradise school district made everything equal for everyone.  It was a relatively rich district, but our school had a high population ELA and school lunch eligible and there was a lot of redistribution, which is how it should be, I think.  So my bottom line is, if you’re going to allow kids to play games in class, you have to provide the games. /end rant

Anyhow, if DC1 behaves hirself and doesn’t lose anything, having an extra cell line should cost us an additional $6/mo, and possibly the cost of an external battery charger since if DC1 treats hir cellphone like I did (leaving it at home and letting the battery run out), it won’t be much use.

What age do you think people should get their first cell phone?  If it depends, what does it depend on?