Is it time to buy a new clothes washer?

We have had our fancy front-loading Frigidaire clothes washer for almost as long as we’ve been in this house, well over a decade.  (It took a couple months to save up to buy nice appliances, so we spent some time going to the laundromat after moving here rather than buying the cheapest models right away.)

Throughout this time, DH has replaced the electronic board, the motor, the door handle, and I’m probably forgetting what else.

Most recently the washer developed an internal leak which we discovered this summer after getting back from a week long conference/vacation and finding the drum partly full of water.  DH replaced the internal part that the leak likely sprung from, but the occasional load of laundry still smells musty.*  Worse than that, I appear to be heavily allergic to whatever is causing the must smell– I develop instant hives, particularly on my stomach area, and lately have been fearful of putting on clothing.  Our first step was to follow online instructions for cleaning and we did a hot vinegar load.  Then we did a hot bleach load.  Then DH did a deep clean of every part of the washer that didn’t involve taking it apart (likely the problem is something yucky still underneath the drum).  Most loads now are fine, especially when I also add vinegar in the fabric softener/bleach inputs.  But there are enough occasional loads that are somewhat off that I currently have ugly looking red marks where my pants hit my stomach.

DH’s final attempt was to do a load with an industrial solvent called CLR (for Calcium, Lime, and Rust).  Since then I’ve been able to wear clothing that’s been washed, but I’m (understandably, I think) still worried.  Plus the clothes washer itself still doesn’t smell great all the time.  (I wonder if we should suspect another leak…)

Now, DH could take apart the entire clothes washer and give it a thorough internal scrub… but it would eat up a weekend and who knows what the next thing to break will be.  (We could also pay someone to clean it, but I suspect a repair person would just tell us to get a new machine.)

I am really tempted to just get a new machine.  DH had decided if the CLR load didn’t result in wearable shirts for me that he would buy a new one over the weekend while I was gone at a conference.  But then I was fine with the next load.  So now we’re undecided.  Figuring out what front-loading washer to buy next is going to be a pain.  None of the “best of” lists seem to agree with each other, and I think we probably *don’t* want a smart model because I am willing to be that will be the part that breaks first while being non-trivial to repair.  But who knows, maybe we do?

We still have our ancient refrigerator.

How do you decide to get new appliances like washing machines?  If you can afford it, is removing potential emotional distress a viable reason?  (But what about the potential distress from potentially buying an expensive new lemon?)

*Between loads we leave all the doors open to air out, and always have.  We’ve been using best practices to avoid must problems.  DH reads the manual to whatever new appliance we get and follows it.

Link Love

Wow, what a decade this past week has been.  (Here’s Celeste p summarizing just one day of it!) The House moved to impeach after a whistleblower reported an inappropriate phone call in which the president tried to get the Ukraine to dig up dirt on democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son.  The NYTimes doxxed said whistleblower after Trump made a death threat against him.  The president has had multiple crazy melt-downs on live television, in front of important people, and on twitter.  I got very little work done this week, partly because I had to cover for students who didn’t show up for our voter registration day booth, but also partly because I would check the twitters at my 3pm break and just go kind of numb with the unreality of it all.  (Also more conference travel.)

This coming week is a great week to call your reps (and, secondarily, senators) to give them support or to cajole them into doing the right thing.  Your phone calls really do matter.  (This thread has multiple scripts depending on your rep’s affiliation, also a script for senators.)

The NYTimes has been writing multiple misleading articles in which they interview the same six rabid Trump supporters and label them swing voters.

Of course they don’t want to talk politics.

Ask the Grumpies: Should I move to England for three years to get dual-citizenship for my son?

bogart asks:

I have British citizenship by descent, could convey British citizenship to my son (both of us could also keep US citizenship) but only if we live there for 3 years between now and when he turns 18 in 5 years.  I can work in the UK but don’t have a job lined up; however, we do (household of 3) have roughly the US median income before anyone gets out of bed thanks to DH’s pension).  Should we or shouldn’t we?

That is not an easy question to answer.  In normal times the benefit of automatic citizenship in a country outside the US wouldn’t seem like that big a deal, but who knows how the future is going to pan out.  Having an easy escape might be valuable in the future.  Though perhaps I’ve been reading too many Kate Parker mysteries.

Besides the jobs and red tape, some things to think about:

Is living in the UK during Brexit going to be better or worse than living in the US under the current regime?

What are the pros of experiencing life in another country while a teen vs. the cons of not getting a full four years of high school at the same school?  How will this affect college admission choices, or does it not matter?  (Also:  which 3/5 years if he’s considering a school in-state?– that could matter a lot for tuition costs.)

Other than that, we don’t really know what should be considered, but likely Grumpy Nation will have ideas.

Grumpy Citizens, what else should bogart be considering?

I cannot tell if most men are attractive or not

After enough reading of Captain Awkward, I learned that being demi-sexual is a thing.  It is, in fact, a thing that I am.

What that means is that I do not get physically attracted to people unless I know them really well first.  Love at first sight is straight out for me.  I’m definitely not asexual, as my feelings for DH can attest, but when DH is out of the picture I get much closer to that end of the spectrum.  If anything ever happens to DH, I will likely spend the rest of my life single because I am not going to find  “chemistry” on a first or even third date.

Along with that, I really cannot tell which men are supposed to be attractive.  Women I think I can tell because culture is better at defining attractiveness for women and pushing that culture on us.  With men, I think there’s a lot more leeway allowed for what is considered attractive.  I can tell if men’s bodies are supposed to be attractive– if their muscles look right, then that’s attractive for men.  But with faces it’s a lot more difficult.  If they look like DH, they’re more likely to look attractive to me.  If they have symmetric features, then I can tell that they’re supposed to be attractive.  But as I scan through the Bachelor in Paradise cast, I really just cannot tell.  And in theory, all of these men were picked because they *are* attractive.  They wouldn’t be on Bachelor in Paradise otherwise.

When I started watching Try Guys videos, I could tell that Eugene was conventionally attractive.  He’s got great hair, symmetric features, and a dancer’s body.  But the other three guys didn’t look that great.  As I watched more and more of the videos, and got to know their characters, they started looking good to me because they are likeable characters.  But are Keith, Ned, and Zach actually good-looking?  I have no idea.

Already planning next summer’s DH-Family Vacation

They decided on a popular Midwestern tourist destination for Summer 2020.  There’s enough stuff that I like (and don’t feel like I have memorized from my own childhood) that I’ll be going too.

MIL is planning everything this year and got into it shortly after last summer’s vacation ended.

We offered to pay half the housing again.  We’re renting a house off AirBnB and our half will be $1500.

We bought four plane tickets.  That will also be $1500.

We’re going to have to rent a car this time around at the airport.  If we don’t put off booking a car for too long, it looks like that will be something under $300.

There’s a lot of attractions at this tourist place, and they all cost varying amounts.  I imagine it’ll be somewhere between $100 and $200/day for our family of four, though we will be spending a day going to a state park which will be some small amount per vehicle rather than per person.  Then there will also be food.  The place we’re renting has a kitchen so it is likely that the in-laws will purchase groceries.  But our smaller nuclear family also likes to try restaurants.  And there’s supposedly some good coffee shops.  We will probably order pizza.

This looks like it will cost more than last year’s trip (even though last year we paid the entire housing) or the first real vacation and less than the Disney trip from two years ago.

Do you have any fun plans for next summer?  How about winter break?

Link love

DH was out of town this week so… links are light again.  There have been plenty of horrible things happening and I’ve been doing voter registration drives and protesting climate change.  It sounds like Trump maybe asked the Ukraine for help smearing Joe Biden?  And the FBI had silenced another credible threat against Kavanaugh while the senate rammed his confirmation through.   There’s just so much.  But we have to keep pushing.  Now is a great time to write some post-cards to voters or to call an elected official about something important to you.

Offered without further comment

JD Roth on his anxiety and depression.

Ask the Grumpies: What to do with a 13th paycheck?

Debbie M asks:

In my retirement system, retirees are getting a so-called 13th paycheck (up to a maximum of $2,000) this year. (Interestingly, I learned that a 13th paycheck is standard or even required for employees in many countries. Weird!) So what should I do with it? As pension money, it is “unearned” and therefore cannot be contributed to retirement savings vehicles. And I don’t have debt (woo hoo!) or an HSA. So currently I’m thinking:
10% to charity
45% to taxable investments
45% to my vacation fund (still, uh, negative since I went to two foreign countries expensively in one year a while back)

Any other ideas?

Sorry for the delay on this– I hope it isn’t too late!

But… those all sound like really reasonable choices.  Go for it!

I guess you could check to make sure your emergency fund is padded for housing expenses or car expenses etc., but presumably you could take out of the vacation fund or sell taxable investments in the case of an emergency.  In theory you could use it to make energy saving improvements around your house like more efficient lighting or insulation if you don’t have those already.

Grumpy Nation, what other things could Debbie M do?

On the new era of Fragrance: A tiny rant

Several of the men in my department have started smelling increasingly floral.  Like there’s a miasma of chemical fragrance wafting like a cloud around them.  My nose starts to drip when they come near.

On the plane the woman in front of me sprayed a bunch of perfume on herself before getting off.  I dripped and sneezed and dripped.

DC2 had skin trouble with the handsoap we usually buy, so DH replaced our bathroom handsoap with liquid ivory, because he got ivory and dove mixed up (dove is dermatologist recommended– they’re both old brands with white bottles and similar packaging).  I stopped being able to go near his face for half a day after he shaved, or my nose would drip and my eyes would start to water.

Then the grocery store stopped carrying his unscented head and shoulders, and they increased the fragrance in the suave he used to buy before he started trying to attack his dandruff.

We spent quite a bit of time at the grocery store today sniffing various shampoos.  He did find a mint scented one that didn’t cause any allergic reaction for me, but in the end everyone decided that DC2 and DH and I would all use the unscented Burt’s Bees baby shampoo that I switched to a while back.   (I started having dandruff and scalp itchiness problems with regular shampoo and decided to buy a bunch of different expensive unscented baby shampoos from Target– Burt’s Bees has been great.  I won’t say it gives me much in the way of volume or body etc, but my scalp feels fine, I have little dandruff, and … I only need to wash my hair about once per week now, which is crazy.)

I was so happy during the last decade or so when scents were out.  The bath and body works era before then was hellish– if I got around too many people or the wrong people I would get a drippy nose and a headache.  I frequently ran out of tylenol allergy sinus.

But now it seems like fragrances are back in, and they’re in EVERYTHING.  Even products we’ve used for years have started upping their scent.

I hate it.

Thank goodness for Zyrtec.  But I will be happy when this fad goes away.

Feel free to commiserate, fellow allergy sufferers!

Simple meals for kids to cook

We feel like it is important for our kids to be able to cook a few meals on their own before they leave our house for good.  Ideally they will also know how to follow a cookbook, but being able to do a few simple meals from scratch (or with a box) without needing access to the internet or an actual cookbook is a helpful skill that should be useful in all sorts of situations.

What are some of these meals they can and should be able to do?

Our kids can both do:
1. scrambled eggs
2. quesadillas/tacos
3. grilled cheese
4. macaroni and cheese from a box with tuna and peas
5. cold cereal
6. salad

I really ought to teach them how to do spaghetti with meat sauce and onions sometime soon.  If either of them liked chili, that would also be on my list.

My memorized repertoire when I left home also included (along with all of the above): fry-ups, swiss steak, chicken cacciatore, salad dressing baked chicken, and leek and potato soup.  I could also do random things with lipton onions soup packets and cans of various campbells soups.  I haven’t made most of these in years either because they’re not healthy with my PCOS or because the children aren’t crazy about them.

DC1 has been preferring to make desserts from cookbooks.  Along with that, most kids seem to like making cookies.  Although I have some desserts memorized (ex. dump cake), I don’t really have any worth making memorized, so we use recipes.

What simple meals did you make as a kid?  What do your kids make, if applicable?  What other meals do you recommend kids learn how to do before they leave home?


Link love

Traveling again… links are light.  Many stupid and terrible things happened with the Trump administration this week including a lot of fascist stuff, but apparently none of them made it to being linked here.

Artificial intelligence could make your job harder

Taking out a student loan is better than dropping out

Investing in children really does pay big benefits for government