In which #1 ends up singing about Dunning Kruger Homesteaders

#2:  My FIL watches a reality television show where this guy from Alaska goes around and saves people who tried homesteading but are doing a horrible job at it

#1: I’ve seen commercials for that. It makes me want to laugh in Schadenfreude.

#2: He recounted one of the episodes with a TSTL* couple for us. It was a bit astonishing. They’d planned like Pa Ingalls, which his to say not at all.  [*too stupid to live]

#1: I have spent enough time on a farm to know the daily slog is NOT for me.  (I hope they get Lyme disease) [ed:  not really]

#2: Even if they’d been doing everything perfectly, their land wasn’t big enough to homestead on, and they were not doing anything right. I don’t understand people who would want to homestead. It takes up so much space and it’s so much labor. Economies of scale! Comparative advantage! Efficiency! Gains from trade!

#1: I mean, you CAN build your own house but you should be some sort of engineer first. And some sort of agricultural specialist. And an herbalist. And a veterinarian. And, and, and….
“Flush toilets exist but we’d rather play house in the backyard until we die of dysentery.”
Let’s make soap! First, lye…(ugh, lye soap)
When ur animals inevitably die, you can boil their hooves for glue….
Also, I wonder if they know what poison oak looks like…
Did you know that goats can get polio and pigs can get rickets? If not, u shouldn’t be homesteading….

#2: How do you know so much about homesteading?

#1: I watch a lot of shows about veterinarians in rural areas.
If you have cows, you gotta know the right (and wrong!) way to pull a calf out alive.
Can you properly sterilize and stitch a wound? If not, don’t homestead. Can you set a simple broken bone? If not, don’t homestead.

*whistles nonchalantly off to my appliance-equipped kitchen*

Also if you hire labor, you’d best know your tax law!

*whistles another tune about rabies and tetanus combined*

This song goes, “Would you like to drain an abscess in an animal’s hooooooof?”

dum de dum, giardia doot de doo….

I think we’re going to buy a new car: Any advice before we pull the trigger?

DH’s 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid is starting to make unpleasant putt putt putt sounds.  It’s possible that the hybrid battery is going to run out in half a year or so (replacement cost:  more than the car is currently worth– 2-3K), and the brakes will probably need to be replaced (~$300) sooner rather than later.

When my sister’s Mini-Cooper, bought around the same time as we got our car, committed suicide on the highway in a cloud of dark smoke (after a few months of unpleasant putt putt putt sounds…), we started looking around at new cars as she decided what to get (she ended up with a gently-used 2016 BMW for 29K, though I am not remembering what model– her second choice was a new 2018 Mazda 3 for 25K ).  While doing this, we discovered that Honda has a new plug-in Hybrid called the Clarity.  This qualifies for the 7.5K federal tax credit, we’re pretty sure.  (We will make sure.)  DH drove it and decided he liked it very much, except that fancy new cars no longer have spare tires and the trunk is oddly shaped and won’t fit our big cooler that we take when we drive into the city (we do have smaller soft-bodied coolers and could get a smaller hard-bodied cooler).  Then he drove the Hyundai Ioniq and the Toyota Prius and decided he did not like them as much at all (we will still probably get a Prius when we swap out my car, although my sister says the new Accents are much nicer than the model we got, so it is tempting to just replace my car with another $15K Accent, even though we can afford a Prius… and I could in theory get an all electric vehicle since my car just tools around town).

It is not cheap.  MSRP is $33,400.  But there is that $7.5K tax credit that brings is more in line with what we were expecting to pay for a new car for DH.  This is also the first year that this model has been available, and there are some small annoying things that reviewers and current owners say about it.  Like, they wish there was a knob for the stereo instead of a button (DH doesn’t mind the button– he uses the steering wheel button, but I LIKE the knob as a passenger).  They think the middle of the car looks kind of weird (DH doesn’t mind).  The lane correction isn’t as good as in other cars that have it.  These and probably many other small annoying things will probably be fixed in the 2019 and 2020 models if the Clarity stays in production.  It really isn’t like us to buy a first of anything– we generally buy the most popular and tried item that we can afford within the set of what we’re looking for.  We got a Honda Civic Hybrid, but not until they’d ironed out the kinks.  Of course, by the time the kinks are ironed out, that phat tax incentive is gone.

If/When we do pull the trigger, I’m planning on emailing all the dealers in a 2 hour radius to ask for a walk-away price to see if I can get them to compete.  This is the same strategy that I wrote up for a guest post on Get Rich Slowly many years ago.  Some dealers are making it harder to find an email, but generally they do provide emails of individual sales people even if they don’t have an easy to find inquiries email anymore.

My work has a free plug-in station for electric vehicles, though over the past year it has started getting actual use meaning one cannot just drive up and plugin anymore.  I assume that they will start charging for it eventually (all the other plug-in stations charge!)

We also have to figure out what to do with the Civic.  We can’t keep it because we have a 2-car garage and a 1-car driveway and our HOA tows cars that stay on the street overnight.  Kelly Blue Book thinks we’ll get something like 2-3K for a trade-in and 1-2K if we sell it.  Donating it would probably get $45 (that is not a typo) *if* we itemized, which is unlikely.  DH also considered giving it to his relative who is down to one car (as a hobby, his relative’s father likes to drive and pick up and drop off cars and people all over the country without getting anything in exchange), but after thinking it through he realized that giving his relative something that is soon going to need $300 brakes and won’t work without a $2000 battery is probably not a great idea.  On top of that, the Civic Hybrid needs a pit to do oil changes and the closest Honda dealer is 40 min away.  I feel a little bit guilty about springing all that on whatever unsuspecting college student would end up buying our car as well, though there’s also the chance that the car will be fine for the next few years and DH is too pessimistic, and if things aren’t fine for this hypothetical college student, there’s a dealership in town.  Most likely we’ll trade-in and take very little for the trade-in because it’s too hard to negotiate that part.  Oh well, we’re not trying to completely optimize money here.

So, what are your thoughts?  What are we missing?

We should call it sometime on saturday link love

Today has been an extremely busy and extremely crappy week.  From big things like having two research projects blow up to smaller things like my single utility stock putting a hold on dividends.  And a lot of stuff in between that I can’t even keep in my mind (also far worse stuff happening to other people).  Also DC2 has a slight fever and runny nose (but fortunately seems happy on the couch cranking through Geronimo Stiltons).  I’m hoping next week has far fewer unpleasant surprises.

GOP Senate Candidate explains how he truly does want a world where women are barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen.

Satanic Temple wins important victory for religions freedom and abortion rights.

Once again, Russian Bots are controlling the political message.

Continue the fight for dreamers.  But at least CHIP has been funded for 6 year.  Thank goodness.  Negotiating with Jello.  Here’s how negotiating with Jello went down.  (Was this only a week ago?)

Paul Ryan collected $500,000 in Koch contributions days after the House passed the horrible Tax law that saves the Koch family enormous amounts of money.  This is a mockery of our political system.

Why don’t DACA eligibles “just come legally”?  An explanation.

Cutting legal immigration makes no fiscal sense

Stealing away immigrant’s rights does make fiscal sense if you are one of the lawful evil crooks directly benefiting from stealing their stuff, but it will also increase prices for everyone else.  This thread makes fascinating parallels to the causes and consequences of Japanese Internment.

Speaking of no fiscal sense, the new tariffs on solar panels piss me off.  On a personal level, I hope that our roof lasts long enough to wait this out.  On a human level, I hope that China takes up this opportunity to increase solar technology so the world can save itself sooner.  On an American citizen level, I think this is terrible because we’re making it easier for China to become the new hegemon.  But maybe we no longer deserve that status anymore.  Not that China does at the political point it’s at right now, but perhaps with its new power it will become more of a force for a positive future.  :/

How the all male citations in a profile of a major American journalist obscure a crucial nuance about Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election

An assessment guide for the perplexed by David Eubanks (p.4)

More op-ed spreads the NYT will be publishing after “letters from Trump supporters”  Asking Trump voters if they still support the President, McSweeney’s style.

RIP Ursula Le Guin.

I mourn the print edition of Teen Vogue

Not in general interest’s time may not be my time, but I’ve had Rudy Valley stuck in my head all week.  Which, I guess, isn’t such a bad thing.

Simplifying to a three fund portfolio

Pros and cons of using a Roth IRA for college savings

Congratulations, Senator Duckworth!

Popular science does unscientific trials of probiotic deodorantsWhere do I find a less stinky person willing to give me underarm cells?

#2 identifies with this one


In today’s comments, tell us:  what are some books by which other people would know you?

Ask the grumpies: Privatizing nation’s air controllers?

Crone asks:

opinion on privatizing our nation’s air controllers. I oppose but was told the whole system should be moved to computer based GPS system and then Highways in the Sky for planes could be free form making flights faster and private industry can do this more rapidly than government. (I was in social situation so could not say I have never known a single computer system that did not ‘go down’ or ‘have ‘undocumented features ‘ so how would that work…) The topic of pipelines that ‘will not fail but ALL LEAK at some time’ had already come up.~~ I had been assured I was wrong on that point and ignorantly female. SO, back to air controllers: If this would be profitable for private companies to do why isn’t it done profitably or better by public government?


Well, it’s only the WORST IDEA if you think that airplane passengers are more important than prisoners. If you think prisoners are people too and should have rights, then privatizing prisons is actually the worst idea and this is only second worst. I guess there’s also privatizing foster care systems… if you think all people are equal then that might be slightly above air traffic control but still below prisons in potential harm done by privatization. (Foster care systems empirically aren’t as bad as prison systems, even though the potential is there to be as bad. This has to do with better state oversight.)

I had a section on privatizing public systems in one of my classes last semester and students brought in stuff– if I’d known it would come up as an ask the grumpies I’d have taken a picture of the whiteboard commonalities of when it works and doesn’t that we came up with. It can be ok, but it depends on a lot of stuff and it really shouldn’t be something where you know, people could die.

Ugh, so no, not you being ignorantly female. There’s a reason there’s a role for government for various systems.

We generally think that there is a potential role for government intervention when there is market failure in the competitive markets.  One form of market failure comes from monopolies.  Something like air-traffic control is what we call a “natural monopoly”– natural monopolies occur when it just doesn’t make sense for more than one company to be in one market.  A lot of utilities are in this kind of situation– where it doesn’t make sense for two companies to lay down pipes or what-have-you.  (You can also have government-private partnerships, where, for example, the government owns the rail-lines but allows different companies to pay to use them.)  Air traffic control is an example of a natural monopoly.  At an airport, it makes sense for only one company to do the air-traffic control.  Any more could lead to planes, for example, hitting each other.

The government in this situation could still allow private contractors to bid on the ability to be that one company doing all the air traffic controlling.  Unfortunately, air traffic control benefits a lot from experience and there are switching costs when an old company leaves and a new one takes its place.  Those switching costs could lead to not just inefficiency but also death.   Finally, oversight is really important with privatization.  Unlike the government, companies can just go out of business when they cut costs so much that people die, so they don’t have as much of an incentive to stay safe when it means cutting into profits.  Government can combat that by making it costly for them to cut corners before someone ends up dead, but that oversight comes at a cost.  Those costs could be large enough (and the possibility of bribes could be high enough) that it makes sense for the government just to do it itself.



  • Oven roasting vegetables is surprisingly easy and tasty.  Why have I not been doing this all my life?
  • I accidentally deleted my amazon wishlist and couldn’t bring it back.  I was able to recreate the first page (because I had it open in another window), but not the second, which means I lost some Darcy Burke books I wanted (I don’t love all of hers, but some were worth getting) as well as the replacement watch I want to get at some point but not until my current watch stops working.  And… I’m not really sure what else.  :/  Oh well, if I really really had wanted whatever it was, I would have gotten them by now.
  • GT pullout for Kindergarten is supposed to start in March with permission and testing in January.  But DC2 told us that zie and the other kid in hir “I” level reading group have been going already since before winter break.  I think I’m not bothered that the school didn’t mention this to us.  And we did fill out the nomination/permission slip for GT testing and got it in early so maybe that counts even though zie hasn’t done testing yet.  And I would feel bad for kids if their parents didn’t give permission.
  • I have gotten so many colds this year.  It sucks.  :(
  • It’s the first day of the quarter and the rain is pouring.  The phone system is broken indefinitely and the printers/copiers have gone down.  The fire alarm isn’t alarming, but it is beeping inconsolably.  At least the pipes didn’t freeze and flood my office like those poor professors on the East Coast.
  • Our compost pile is really the only way to get dirt around here absent of buying it.
  • Remember how I had the scary dentist experience (newer readers should definitely read this story– it is pretty awful)?  Well, it turns out she didn’t even do my crown right– it was too high and that is probably why the top tooth cracked requiring my second crown.  My amazing current dentist fixed the old crown when the bite wouldn’t work with the new one.  I didn’t realize how bad my bite was during those 6 years, but it seems obvious now that it has been fixed.  I wish I’d thought to ask him to check 5.5 years ago when I switched to him– I could have avoided (or at least put off) this second crown!  The experience was a lot different too– he spent the time explaining about the architecture of the tooth and what parts to sand down and which tools to use to do it and how to get the angles right and so on.  He also discussed the different materials that these crowns are made of and what research says about how they affect mouth muscles while chewing and why he prefers the one he gets for his patients.  It was lovely.  Or about as lovely as an hour and a half of sanding down and refitting a new crown could be.
  • DC1 (now age 11, but 10 when zie took the exam) got a 1260 (out of 1600) on the SAT.  Not bad for someone who hasn’t quite finished half of Algebra 1.
  • DC2’s report card came with excited notes that DC2 can count past 100.  But… DC2 can do multiple digit addition and subtraction with borrowing and carrying at least two different ways (traditional US and Singapore style) and can do quite a bit of single digit multiplication.  I wonder if we should talk to them about math. [Update:  We emailed and they said they’d add harder stuff to the math stations, which in practice, according to DC2, seems to be a couple of those puzzle games where you try to match up square cards based on the pictures they have on them.]  We also wonder what grade would be best to skip given the dual-language thing and if there are immersion summer programs we could send hir two to bulk up on Spanish if zie does skip a grade.  We have until May to decide about grade skipping testing for the year.
  • It seems like a lot of people have no idea how horrific slavery actually was.
  • DC2 is learning angles.  Zie says, “Obtuse!  Obtuse!  She says I’m obtuse!” in hir best Rudolph voice.
Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: . 25 Comments »

Grandmother’s legacy

My grandmother recently passed away at age 101.

She has left all of her grandchildren stock.

From my uncle: “Mom set up a trust that took all of the DuPont stock Dad accumulated over the years and put it to work in the stock market. It grew, and threw off dividends that she used to buy other stocks and mutual funds. She always said that she hated laziness, and having money as cash, was just having lazy money. It should be invested to grow. So she invested it through the trust.

“This was Mom’s gift to her grandchildren, given in the hope and expectation that they will use the funds wisely, and not let the money be lazy.”

She had 16 grandchildren. “One provision in the trust was she left each of her grandchildren the equivalent of 100 shares of DuPont stock.”

They had to do a little detective work because DuPont doesn’t exist anymore so what happened to the stock. But they figured it out.

It’s not quite enough to open a Vanguard brokerage account and get low fees, but I have been thinking recently that I have too much savings in the bank.

For now, maybe I’ll just DRIP until I feel up to doing things.

Little late link love


Awful.  ICE separating families.

I just (literally today) had a really similar experience to the one this guy is describing.  I went out for sushi with DC2 (DH and DC1 are at a robotics meet) and the table next to mine had some stupid (female) bigot complaining about how DEMOCRATS shut down the government because they want to SPEND on immigrants which we can’t afford to do. So many levels of wrong. I hate Fox News.  Then a black woman with a Caribbean accent joined them for lunch and she shut up.  I wanted to be like, save yourself! But, like Betty in the thread, probably she knows.

The fake feminism of the #metoo backlash.  There are a lot of bad takes on the Aziz Ansari thing, but this one by Emma Gray is a good one.

Medicaid recipients will be drowning in paperwork in Kentucky.  … and “literacy” courses

False reassurance, the medical error killing new mothers

Closeted Anti-LGBTQ Politicians may not survive the #metoo movement because reporters are starting to realize that they shouldn’t be protecting serial harassers(!) in the name of ethics.  (WTF, are reporters really so bad at thinking about these things?)

FBI investigating whether Russian money went to NRA to help trump.

The press still needs to DO BETTER

Turns out trying to change hearts and minds is waaaaay less effective than changing laws when it comes to increasing vaccinations.

Tesla Model 3’s likely first major accident

Someone is playing a really long game here.  For your perusal:  29 stages of a twitterstorm in 2018,  @Pricehound Lessons from 2013!

Hierarchy of financial needs

Best investments for tax-deferred accounts.

Bitches get riches meditates on her new job!

A natural scientist shows her mudroom remodel!


Roxanne Gay’s 2017 reading list

RT book of the year nominations

One pot mac and cheese

Step saving kitchen from 1949


12 tips to ensure you don’t stab anyone on your first day back from break

I did not know there was a women’s march today until yesterday.  What is up with that?  No news info, no tweets, no emails, nothing.

Ask the grumpies: What is real when it comes to nutrition advice?

Sandy L. asks:

Nutrition advice. What is real. I find it hilarious that eggs and coconut oil were such villains in the 90s and now they are “the perfect food”. I bought an old cookbook a few months back and it was talking about avoiding coconut oil. It made me laugh.
Now fat is okay but sugar is bad.

First, a tiny rant from #1, “In which research on “nutrition” is nonsense.”:

#1: haha:

#2: People underestimate how much they eat?

#1: People write articles based on stupid, meaningless data and then use those articles to influence policy recommendations.

#2: The nhanes is the best information we have for a lot of things.

#1: It’s true. But the nutrition stuff is messed up. When asked how they eat, people misreport. Then the researchers convert the amount of various foods into calorie amounts, using incorrect databases that are filled with wrong info. Then they change methodology. Then reports are based on those data…

Most of the nutrition database info (about how many calories are in the reported food intake) hasn’t been actually checked scientifically.

For example, on the plane I had some beef. What cut was it? I have no idea. But different cuts of beef can have TWICE as much kcal as another cut. Which one do they write down? it’s kind of random!

It’s a good thing our policy is so coherent… oh wait…

People should also read Dances with Fat.
Enjoy, Grumpeteers!

#2 notes that you may be interested in reading this article about the history behind sugar and nutrition .  A bunch of people in high school had/got to read a book about the vast Sugar conspiracy for their world history class at our high school back in the 1990s.  It had some pretty horrifying stuff in it about sugar and tea and trade.  The capitalist conspiracy is ancient and vast!  The sugar dynasty is powerful and has been for centuries.

But…. there’s also non-political-economy reasons we don’t know a ton about nutrition.  The first is that nutrition is incredibly complex and there’s a lot of heterogeneity so it’s just hard to tease things out.  Generally, we start with looking at correlational evidence from places like the Framingham nurse’s study.  Those correlations provide headlines about eggs being bad when it may actually be the nitrates from bacon (eaten with eggs) or a million other things.  But correlations are a good place to start when you’re trying to figure out how things work because it narrows down the testing frame.  Then after correlational studies we can move into animal trials or human trials.  Generally that’s when things don’t pan out– there really wasn’t anything wrong with eggs, so randomized controlled trials failed to find anything wrong with eating eggs.  There was correlation but not causation.

What is real?  Who knows!  It seems likely that eating whole grains and unprocessed food and getting fiber and nutrients is a good thing.  But maybe not for everyone and maybe not to extremes.  I’m interested in seeing where all the research on gut flora ends up going.  (And, TBH, I’m really interested in getting better smelling underarm flora…)  Should you drink milk or eat meat?  Who knows!  Me, I generally listen to what I’m craving and pay attention to how I feel after.  That doesn’t always steer me right– sometimes I lose my ability to comfortably digest say, beef or raw veggies and that ability has to be rebuilt, but it’s the best idea I’ve got.


Facts and Opinions are not the same thing: Part 2

Part one from five years ago at the private school where they do not teach untruths about the civil war but still do not understand the difference between objective statements and opinions.

As promised, DC1 ended the semester being tested on the idea that the cause of the civil war was not reaaaaalllly slavery, but state rights.

I read out the reasons for the civil war given by the southerners who withdrew from the union.  They are PRETTY CLEAR that it was about slavery.  On top of that, South Carolina was pretty pissed off about NY getting to keep its state right of not allowing people to be property in its borders so that Southerners couldn’t take slaves with them to do business in NY.

Then DC1 said, “people have a lot of different opinions”.

And that led to a really lengthy discussion about what is an opinion and what is an untrue statement of fact.  DH and I threw around a lot of terms like “subjective” and “objective”.  Also “hypothesis”.  We talked about climate change.

It drives me nuts that people label incorrect statements as “opinions” and don’t seem to understand the difference between objective truths (which are true no matter what we believe, but sadly cannot always be tested) and subjective opinions.  (“Can an opinion ever be wrong?” DC1 asked. “Sure,” I said, “Saying ‘Eggnog is the best drink in the world’ is an example of a wrong opinion.”)  And this is codified in the South through the K-12 system and reinforced by Fox News.  It is in the airwaves.  I hate it.  And I don’t want to have to add it to my stats class, but maybe I should.

Last year I asked my grad students if we should spend some time on what is “fake news” and they all said no, they understood.  This year they’re not as sure.  Last year “fake news” really was fake– spewed out by what we now know were Russian bots.  This year Republicans have labeled reputable news organizations as “fake news” so it’s more confusing.  On top of that, even formerly reputable news organizations like WSJ have been taken over by ideologues so there’s a lot of crud coming out.  (NYTimes has always had a contingent of crud, and NPR started to kind of suck a couple of years ago.)

How do you all deal with the difference?

On knowing what’s out there: loosely connected thoughts from vacation with the relatives

Over the holidays, DH’s newly retired parents kept talking about how truly blessed they are.  None of their kids are in jail.  All are gainfully employed.  They themselves have more money than they ever dreamed and will actually be able to increase their quality of life in retirement (or rather, FIL now has both time and money for all those hunting trips he’s been wanting to do), at least while the stock market is booming.  (A couple of weeks ago, FIL called up to ask DH to ask me whether or not it was ok to have 90% stocks/10% bonds…)

DH’s relative that we’ve talked about before is not doing so well.  He’s got arthritis, which makes being a construction worker difficult.  His oldest two both had children as teenagers (the oldest is living at home with her toddler, the second moved West with her two kids to live with the biological mother who abandoned her as a baby).  His wife is recovering from brain cancer.  His third attempted suicide via electricity socket recently and is depressed because he’s too blind to legally drive.  His fourth has gotten in with a bad crowd and started stealing from family and was recently on suicide watch at a hospital.  We didn’t hear much about the fifth this time around except that she was driving the oldest’s car when it got totaled by an uninsured driver (which means the relative is now chauffeuring everybody around).  Also one of his two much younger brothers (his brothers are the same age as his oldest daughters) has been jailed for possession of stolen materials.

Focusing a bit on that third kid– he graduated from high school last year and the plan was to take the year off working (he’s washing dishes at a restaurant) and then spend the next year at community college.  Community college is about an hour away, so he would have to be driven.  He’s really depressed that he will never be able to drive and it’s not clear that he’s actually going to do community college next year, or ever.  He’s smart and has the grades and GPA to go to the flagship school or one of the closer regionals.  The flagship’s admission deadline has come and gone and the closer regionals have passed their priority deadlines but still have rolling admissions.  Over break, he and DH talked about careers and DH tried to convince him to just fill out one of the two page regional applications for either of the closest schools (while DH was there to pay the $40 admission fee), but no luck.

And the thing is, this kid has never been anywhere with public transportation (or even taxis!).  He has no idea what it’s like to be someplace where you can take yourself where you need to go without having to depend on the kindness of someone else to drive you.  It would be best for him to skip community college and to just go straight to a 4 year college with an extensive bus system and counselors.   He should be eligible for plenty of need-based financial aid and what’s left we can pay.  But… he doesn’t know that’s best.  He doesn’t know what is best and his parents don’t have 4-year college degrees (his mom never finished high school) and his dad has been on his own since 16, so they’re letting him do what he wants since he’s officially an adult.

Growing up I knew I wanted to be upper-middle-class because I knew people whose parents were upper-middle-class and I had an aunt and uncle who were judges, and I thought, I want that.  I want to not have to worry about money and to have the temperature always set to something comfortable.  DH never had those thoughts, but his parents were doing pretty well compared to everyone else in his family, and at boarding school he learned a lot about what all was out there.  And his mother had a wide variety of experiences growing up and she told me this most recent trip that she always thought it important to make sure her kids saw places outside the small town, so they went to camps (or in DH’s case, boarding school) and visited relatives (from her side of the family) up north and so on.  She also took them to get professional career testing before college and told them not going was not an option (for DH she also controlled where he was allowed to apply), just as her father had told her that not going to college was not an option.

Going back to DH’s family’s place at Christmas does tend to make one feel #blessed because it reminds us how well we’re doing and how well DH’s immediate family is doing.  It also forces the comparison of how hard it is for so much of America to get ahead outside of our highly educated McMansion-owning bubble.  DH’s relative is plenty smart, but his life diverged dramatically from DH’s at 16 when he got married and left home and had two kids.  But there were also a lot of factors that led up to that point and after– his parents also had two kids by age 18.  Our kids’ lives will diverge even more dramatically.  His kids are not our kids, and we don’t know how to help, or if we even can help.   So, we will continue to feel #blessed and to keep things in perspective while doing what we can to make it easier for poor kids more generally to get ahead.  We have our oxygen masks on, but there are still a lot of people out there who need assistance with theirs, and even more who don’t have access to oxygen masks at all.