Link love link love roly poly link love

2016

2016 in harassment

GOP readies swift ACA repeal with no replacement

GOP to punish filming on the house floor.

Professors receive emails from fake students asking about their courses.

Trump voters live in a crazy alternate reality

Post-election anxiety is real.

Things could be worse so don’t complain is a way to keep the oppressed down.

Hope is something you create.

Missoula Montanans put menorahs in business and home windows to show solidarity with the Jewish community after anti-Semitic rhetoric.

“It’s Ben and Jerry, not Ben and Mary”

The real danger of treating people with respect.

Do your syllabi approach gender equity?  Do you represent the under-represented?

Wealth, risk, and stuff.

Katharine Hepburn’s brownies

I got this for Christmas.

baby has a buddy

A while back, DH and I were watching an American songbook documentary and there were these two black tap dancers who were more amazing than Fred Astaire.  And we were like, who are these two guys and doesn’t it suck that we’ve never heard of them even though we have heard of Astaire.  Turns out they’re the Nicholas Brothers and Fred Astaire agrees that they had the greatest dance number of all time.

 

 

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Ask the Grumpies: How to save for retirement with no earned income?

Steph asks:

Assuming I get my dream post-doc next year, I will be making 2x my grad salary…and none of it will be eligible for retirement savings because it will be a stipend instead of wages. That will be my life for at least 3 years, though hopefully not much more than that. I want to start saving for retirement in earnest – how would you do that in my situation?

This won’t matter too much until 2018, because in 2017 I’ll have earned income as a grad student that will let me max out my Roth, at least.

Grad student finances, by evolvingpf is really the appropriate person for this question.  Here’s her answer from 2012 on her original website.  Her answers are what I first thought as well–

  1. Get married to someone with earned income
  2. Get some earned income (addendum to her recommendations:  if you do any consulting or freelance you can save that in a self-employed plan such as a SIMPLE IRA)
  3. Don’t save for retirement (do other saving money things instead).  Then start saving more than you would otherwise for retirement once you get earned income and a savings vehicle to use.

In graduate school I was married so if at least one of us had earned income for half the year we were ok for IRA/Roth IRA, especially since the contribution limit was much lower at the time ($3K).

In case evolvingpf’s post disappears, good recommendations for non-retirement savings include:

  1.  If you’re in the 15% income bracket (or lower) now is a good time to use taxable stocks, especially dividend heavy ones because of the preferential treatment of capital gains.  Put that money to work for you.  (Note though, it is unclear what will happen to taxes over the next few years.)
  2. Pay off all debt starting with high interest (I bet you’ve already done this)
  3. Bulk up your emergency fund
  4. Save for your next car or a house so you can pay in cash for the car and get beneficial interest rates (and no PMI) for a house

Grumpy Nation– what suggestions do you have for someone without earned income who wants to save?

Fanfic for star wars fans

[ed note:  this was scheduled to post before Carrie Fisher’s untimely death.  We are so saddened by her passing.]

In honor of the new movie out, here are some of my favorite light star wars (almost entirely Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan) fan fictions.

Twenty Questions

Rated NC-17:

I seem to have a thing for Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan erotic slash Lots and lots of slash. So much slash.

From the Temple Erotica Archives

This is the start of a series if you want something novel-length and more romance-focused (link to continuation is at the bottom).

Do you read fanfic?  Any recommendations?  Are you excited about the new Star Wars movie?

DH’s second December check was delayed a few days…

DH gets paid 2x a month.  The second check usually sometime between the 19th and the 23rd.  This month on the 21st, DH got an email saying his paycheck would be delayed for a few days waiting on a check from a couple of government agencies.  (Is this a good sign for the future of the company?  Probably not…)  Hopefully by the time this posts it’ll have cashed [update:  it did], but we’ll see.  Both agencies said that “the check is in the mail” and suggest the holidays have slowed transit down.  It’s possible.

I gotta say, I sure am glad that I keep a deep emergency fund and I’d already transferred 2K to checking to cover the late-month expenses.  We’re fine until Jan 6th at which point if he doesn’t get at least one of his paychecks I’ll have to transfer more money from savings.  (My paycheck posts to savings.)

I’m so glad we’ve kept our required expenses down low enough and our savings up high enough that we can handle this.  And that although I’m a little worried about DH being unemployed in April, give or take, we can handle it (and we can handle it partly because I argued for a raise last year and partly because we’re almost done with the principal and interest parts of the mortgage, among other things).  There are times in the past where this state of affairs would be pretty scary, but thankfully now it’s more of a meh, we’ll see what happens.

Also reminds me that I should process some dependent daycare account reimbursements, since that’s one of the ways I used to smooth out cash-flow problems, but I guess that will have to wait until January when school is back in session.

What do you do when a paycheck or reimbursement is slow to come?

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Link love Eve

There’s still a lot of horrible stuff in the news.  Donald Trump, apparently doesn’t celebrate the holidays.  Or rather, he celebrates them by increasing the probability of nuclear war.  But we have given up on sending each other links about such things this week.  Please do, however, click on the Activism tab, sign up for any one of the weekly newsletters or find an action group in your area, and if you can, talk with friends and family about what you can do and what they’re doing going forward.  Our combined actions will make a difference and every step we take has a positive probability of saving lives.  It can be scary and I know my DH is dreading bring up politics with his family because sometimes it is hard to do the right thing, but we all need to do the right thing as best we can.

Texas (illegally) kicks planned parenthood out of Medicaid

Treating people with respect

Delta

toxic, toxic masculinity in rural white men (whatta shock I know)

News organizations are so important.

nightmare fuel

in memoriam

bonus points for misunderestimate

Preschool is good for society?

higher priced majors => more financial aid => better representation of disadvantaged students

silkhenge

only if you move

Walking dresses

Accurate.

mouseover has a heartwarming story

stress and memory

escapetop five?

lightbulbs

academaze

Seems like making the last mortgage payoff might not be as easy as writing the final check.

I want this, preferably filled with cherries and marzipan.

Fibonacci poem!

should not exist

Just for a tiny bit of joy, here’s a repost of a favorite Christmas post.

 

 

Also, for your enjoyment, a soliloquy from earlier this week:

I want more presents
pressssssents
like the nuts.com order I bought for myself but it isn’t coming until Wednesday
we don’t have anybody picking up packages for us while we’re gone :(
so I am glad the nuts.com order is taking less time than usual
I feel like I have become an IM advertisement for nuts.come except they’re not paying me!
nuts.com, the only place I know you can get dried dragonfruit
nuts.com, now with free holiday tin!
nuts.com home of delicious indian snackfood
nuts.com, where you can try bizarre superfoods you’ve never heard of
also they have these fruit gummies that are made out of actual fruit, they’re really really good but also just as bad for you as regular gummies,  so DH wanted to get some, but I was like, DH, the first ingredient is sugar.  Like, they take actual strawberries and shoot them up with the stuff fruit gummies are made out of.  They’re like frankenberries or zombieberries something like that unnatural [ed: embalmed mummy berries?], yet what gummy fruit wishes it could be. Also not as pretty as fruit-snacks because there’s no artificial coloring.
nuts.com /en fin

Ask the grumpies: Should I raise my credit card limit?

Nanani asks:

Opinions on the merits of raising the credit limit on one’s credit cards?
I am at the point where both my credit cards (a VISA and an MC, in different currencies; I have lived in multiple countries) have a balance of essentially zero. I use them every month to pay subscriptions and occasional online purchases, but I pay the full balance every month now.

Since I’ve reached the point where I can regularly do that, the credit card companies have been sending me offers to increase my credit limit at a greater frequency.
Right now it’s ~10K (thumb conversion to USD) and I don’t feel the need for more, but I thought I’d ask and see what the prevailing wisdom is.

TL;DR: Raise credit card limit: YES/NO? Why/not?

The conventional wisdom is that if you are bad with credit and need hard limits to keep from over-spending, then do not raise your credit limit.

Otherwise, if you’re the kind of person who ignores credit limits because you’ve never hit one and you have complete control of your spending, raising your credit limit may increase your (US) credit score because it will increase your available credit ratio.  Since credit card companies generally hold liability for fraudulent purchases, this should come at no additional risk.  This will also make the occasional large purchase (that you plan to pay off immediately) a bit easier because you won’t have to break it up across cards and you’ll be able to get the benefit from rewards.  Note:  all of these answers are US based– we don’t know how credit card companies work in other countries.  (And, as always, do your own research and/or talk with actual professionals before making any major money decisions.  We are not actual professionals.)

Grumpy Nation:  What do you do when the credit card company wants to raise your limits?

How to talk to politicians

This google document that has been going around the progressosphere is an important read.  An extremely important read in the days going forward.  (And, I trust it because, humble-brag-6-degrees-of-separation-style, my aunt knows one of the authors!)

Many of us, I think, are new to this whole getting involved with politics thing.  We may have fired off an email or a letter when something particularly egregious has happened, but for the most part we’ve voted and generally trusted our elected officials to do what’s right or to ignore what’s right because we’re outnumbered.

We no longer have luxury of trust.  And we have the moral imperative and the will to fight to stem the worst excesses even if outnumbered.  With enough of our voices we can make change.  We’re the majority in the country even if not a majority in our gerrymandered districts.

A question I’ve had as I make these phone calls to politicians (something I’ve been doing almost every weekday since recovering from the election) is whether or not we can/should batch up comments into one phone call to an office or if each item should get a separate call.   Another question is whether it’s ok to leave a voicemail or if I should keep trying offices until I get a voice on the other end of the line.  And should I be using polite scripts or should I be more confrontational?  (Answers down below.)

Calling every day is a bit draining.  Generally the feeling of being drained happens before I make the call and I feel fine and maybe a little strong and powerful after, but I was a bit shaken and angered by an extremely unpleasant call with so-called “Richard Wilson” at the house financial oversight committee republican number who claimed to be the front office supervisor who told me that they couldn’t possibly investigate Trump’s potential conflicts of interest until they’d finished investigating the oh so corrupt current administration and then got confrontational with me (and if I wanted to complain about him, I would have to call my senator because he is the top supervisor).  Usually though I just do the polite script, they say, “thank you I will let X know” and that’s that.  Easy Peasy.  But I was feeling really angry about the latest Trump conflict of interest and the way that the financial oversight committee is determined to do nothing (and has plans to do nothing) so I started asking when and why.

According to the guide, I should be having more of that type of conversation, pushing aides to give me an answer and telling them I’m not satisfied.  And I will, but those phone calls take energy.  (I did recently have a script-like conversation with a nice lady at the governor’s office about an issue directly related to my kids– it was easier and more natural to push on that because I did want information and I did want the governor to actually do something.)  The guide recommends a separate phone call for each issue.  Calling until you get a staffer, and not just talking to the staffer who answers, but talking to the staffer specific to the issue you’re concerned about and not letting go until you’ve talked with them.  If that sounds overwhelming, keep reading this post.

I want to remind everybody that although the script in the google document is the ideal, that although having confrontational phone-calls, going to town hall meetings, and so on are important and we should be working towards them, in politics as in everything else that matters:

Don’t Let The Perfect Be the Enemy of the Good.

Reading that google doc has made me want to do more, much more.  And it’s pushed me to try to connect more with our local groups even though they’re not making it easy.  (If we ever get in touch, one of our first orders of business will be to make it easier.)  I’m going to try to use more confrontational scripts with my local staffers.

Part of the reason these calls are so important is because staffers check a box based on your call to see what issues constituents care about and in which direction they care.  So calling up and telling your senator about the appointments you oppose in one phone call gets those boxes checked (“We prefer it, so much easier for everyone,” a staffer told my sister.)  That’s not ideal when talking to Republican representatives, according to the google doc , because we don’t want things to be easier on them, but we do need those boxes to be checked.  Calling and getting those boxes checked is so much better than not getting any checked because you couldn’t make all those phone calls.  Similarly, leaving a message isn’t as good as talking to a staffer, but if you aren’t going to be able to keep calling until you get a staffer (because you have a job), leaving a message is still important.  Polite scripts still get your voice heard and that box checked.  We don’t need everybody to be confrontational, but we do need our representatives to know that people are noticing that what is happening is not acceptable and we do not support it.

I’d say right now, in D&D terminology, I’m a level 3 activist (and if you play D&D, you know you’re still fighting slime molds and can die by goblin at that level).  But that’s ok.  Just like with role-playing games, we need experience before we can level up.

What I’ve been doing has been doing one action item off one of the newsletters I subscribe to each day.  Sometimes I talk to a person (and sometimes I call different offices until I get a person).  Sometimes I leave a message.  You may prefer to bunch up and make all of your phone calls on Moral Monday or Activism Thursday or whatever fits best in your schedule.  (And I may move to Moral Mondays as time goes on.)  Start at whatever level you feel most comfortable.  Batch your calls once a week if that’s what you have time for.  Use the polite script if you don’t have the time or energy to have a discussion.  Leave messages if you don’t have time to call different offices until you find a person.  As you get more comfortable or as you’re working on the issues that you care about more, then do more.  The more you do, the sooner you level up, and the more you’ll be able to do and the easier it will be.  Because we have a lot to do to keep this country from moving backward, and we need to make our voices heard and to organize in order to survive the next few years.

In the words of one of the new activism newsletters I subscribe to, “Letting your voice be heard in any way is more important than not being heard at all.”

What level activist are you?  What suggestions do you have for organizing?  Have you reached out to any groups?  How have your experiences with calling been?  Is it easier than you thought or harder?  What other kinds of things have you been doing besides calling?  Is anybody going to DC or a local city for the Women’s March?