Wow, really not a lot of links this week. Sorry guys!
Does your family have any quirky tips & tricks for everyday situations/tasks? are they effective?
e.g. my MIL has the best hiccup cure I’ve ever tried: take a spoonful of sugar and pour some red wine vinegar in it, then swallow the sugar-vinegar mix in one gulp. I get hiccups a lot, and on the (very few!) occasions this has failed me, a second dose has done the trick. Family opinions vary as to why/how this works, but everyone agrees that it does.
I would love to learn some tricks for getting rid of an earworm, or other annoying but minor everyday problems.
The only way I know to get rid of an earworm is to replace it with another earworm…
Grumpy Nation, what tricks and tips do you have?
p.s. We love this question! And really want to read what Grumpy Nation has to suggest!
Pretty much done with the Agatha Christies– there’s a handful of singletons that weren’t available at the library that I haven’t read/reread, but I’m mostly done. I quite like the Harley Quinn short stories for the most part (the last/second to last depending on your viewpoint, that is, the one directly before the Harlequinn Teaset is stupid).
I’ve been cranking through Lord Peter Whimseys as well. My local library didn’t have Murder Must Advertise and I wonder if it’s because of the completely unnecessary use of the N word or if it’s just that their copy fell apart. (But they have two copies of 9 little tailors, which is the next book in the series, so…) I swear, the number of times I have read the N word in the past year from these 1930s British mysteries. Ridiculous. In any case, my university library had a first edition of Murder must advertise, so I as able to continue my reading mostly uninterrupted. The Nine Tailors was … boring. I ended up skipping large chunks even though I had no problem with the previous Scottish Five Red Herrings case which is supposed to be one of the duller Whimseys. Then I read Gaudy Night which continues to be a masterpiece. I’m not sure how good it is if you haven’t read the previous two Harriet Vanes, but it really is a classic. I also read through the short stories again (except the last one which I’m saving for after Busman’s Honeymoon, though I should have also saved the second to last for then too!) and with the exception of the Harriet Vane novels, I think the short stories might be better than the novels.
The big city library recommended Nina Coombs Pykare to me. They are for the most part forgettable retreads, but go down easily. A Man of her choosing was TERRIBLE and I eventually gave up on it– TSTL heroine who is not like other girls (because she likes horses) and thinks she’s ugly “a wren” and says so about every other page. Hero who has no personality other than occasionally jealously shaking the heroine and yelling at her. The Lost Duchess of Greyden Castle was a nice Gothic that may be worth trying out if you can get it for free from your library. A Daring Dilemma and A Matchmaker’s Match were both soothing and forgettable (unless you care about historical accuracy, in which case you should completely avoid this author).
I tried a few more Alexis Hall books but none of them have quite jelled. They have good bits, but haven’t really been cohesively good like Boyfriend Material was. I have to wonder if what was lacking was an excellent editor, or if this is a matter of becoming a more experienced author.
The big city library also recommended Emily Hendrickson and I tried A Man of Her Choosing… and it was just super boring and forgettable so I didn’t even bother reading the last couple of chapters, I just DNF.
Joanna Shupe was pretty fun… reading her books in rapid succession left a bit to be desired because she reuses tropes and characteristics and turns of phrases and so on. But The Prince of Broadway was pretty good. A scandalous deal not as good, but readable. The rogue of fifth avenue, similar. The Lady Hellion was a fun romp (cw: a serial rapist/murderer is the MacGuffin), though the heroine had some TSTL manic pixie tendencies, but I think the hero with his interesting anxiety disorders made it readable, AND it had the smartest “how to get someone killed without actually doing it yourself” thing I have ever seen. Magnate had a great set-up but was ultimately a huge disappointment– it would have been 10x the book if she had spent more time on the heroine and heroes’ fascinating careers (steel magnate and wall street consultant) and less time on boring married-too-soon tropes (and interminable filler sex scenes… literally the first sex scene went from 62-72% on my kindle, and it wasn’t the only one.) The Devil of Downtown was solid and maybe even a bit better than the previous two books in the series.
I tried out a Shana Galen bundle based on the library recommendation… Couldn’t get into The making of a duchess or The making of a gentleman, but the Rogue’s pirate bride was worth reading the first few and last few chapters and skipping the middle.
The Trouble with Harry by Katie MacAlister is silly and pretty funny (and also I kept going… did I accidentally check out an erotic novel? but maybe this is too silly to be erotic?)
The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie was interesting. The hero was nice. There’s a mystery (more dead prostitutes, though only two this time around). It’s got gothic bits. I’d like to read the second from the library (but not buy it because I am not a fan of the estranged spouses trope and the hero doesn’t seem so great from his appearances in book 1), but alas, neither library has it available, so I guess I will skip and try the third next.
I’m not sure how to feel about In for a Penny by Rose Lerner. I LOVED the way that the protagonists spent a day writing up a list of rules for marriage together (No Mistresses)– that was cute and fun and unique. I had been hoping that the second half of the book would be watching them quietly building up the hero’s falling down estate while falling in love. Instead, the second half was full of so many tropes… all together (no carriage accidents though… well no important ones anyway). There was a two pager that had at least 3 things that would have been stunning drama game changers in another book, right after another from the beginning of the chapter. Finally, I almost threw the book across the room (if it hadn’t been a library book, I might have) when I realized the entire story was just a huge long walk to get to a terrible terrible pun. I think I may have to buy it. And maybe read some more by this author.
Chasing Cassandra by Lisa Kleypas was solid. It’s another in a series and I found myself wishing I’d read the other ones more recently because I think it would have been more rewarding. I may have to reread these someday. This one by itself isn’t really worth owning, but maybe it is if I reread it as part of the entire series? I’m not sure. Update: Apparently I didn’t read all of the prequels because I got annoyed by too many attempted rapes on the heroine in one of her books and just gave up on the author entirely.
The latest Jayne Ann Krentz, “All the Colors of the Night” was a solid Jones book in the Fogg Lake sub-series. I also wished I’d read others in that series more recently (amazon tells me there’s only one, but I feel like some of the other Jones books must have overlap). (Also… I wondered if twitter was making fun of her recently by riffing off authors who use the book’s title in the book’s last sentence…)
My sister wanted her boyfriend to hire DH to do some part-time consulting for his business (basically he needed two of his machines to talk to each other, if I understand correctly). Ultimately DH didn’t because the rate offered was low and would have just been taking out of unemployment AND DH wanted to spend his time upgrading his machine learning and [something directly related to his specific skillset that is easier to do remotely than are his other specializations] skills before tapping his job application networks.
But we thought maybe it wouldn’t be such a great idea anyway and could lead to hurt feelings.
What do you think? Should family members hire each other for projects? Have you seen it go well or poorly? Do you mix business and family?
How do you decide how much to give to charity? I’m not religious so I’ve only heard of the 10% tithe recently and it seems like so much! At the same time, I know a “could” afford to donate 10% while still saving 15% as recommended, so is it wrong not to do so? I am very young (25) and the idea of compound interest has been hammered into me, plus I am reasonably confident I will be taking a pay cut in about a year to switch industries (into one that is better for the world) and move cities, so it feels safer to save a lot while I can.
Right now I’m donating about 2% through automatic monthly donations and so far in 2020 have donated about 2% in one-off donations. I expect to donate more this year given the many extenuating circumstances. Any advice is welcome!
There’s no hard and fast rule about how much you should give to charity. In fact, in an ideal country, you wouldn’t have to give *anything* to charity because the government would be collecting taxes to take care of needs. But, we don’t live in an ideal country and really, no country has figured everything out.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind though.
1. Take care of yourself first. Keep saving 15% for retirement! Also make sure that your emergency fund is full, that you’ve got plenty of insurance, and that you have a plan to save for big goals like cars or houses (or job changes) etc.
2. Just like the tax system, it doesn’t make sense for everybody to donate the same percentage to charity. Richer people should be donating more to charity and lower income people should be donating less. We explain why marginal tax rates make sense here, complete with a diagram that we stole with attribution from someone else. But the main idea is that for people who have lower income, 10% is a huge cut in their ability to meet their needs and wants and is a drastic decrease in their utility (aka happiness). For a billionaire, 10% leaves them with 90% of their billions, which is still more than any reasonable person should want. They only get a small decrease in their utility. Because that 100th yacht just isn’t that exciting. (And honestly, we’d be better off if evil billionaires would stop getting their jollies by buying politicians and screwing with civil society.)
So… there is no right answer. Only you can decide. But as you make more, you should up your % donated, not just the dollar amount. As you make less, you should cut it.
On top of that, some people have charitable giving plans where they figure out how much and where they will be donating in advance. Other people (like us) tend to be soft touches and tend to donate based on whatever makes the hurting hurt less, and donate at any point in time based on our finances when we’re asked or read a sad news article or etc. The former is probably a better way for the charities and a better way to live life, but the latter is how a lot of people do it, which is why we get so much junk mail and so many emotional appeals.
We just did our taxes, and gave about 1.5% of our income to actual 501c3 organizations, but we gave a TON more to political organizations which are not tax deductible. Does that count as charity? I tend to think so because I have a strong belief that government should be providing public goods and not, you know, separating children from their families and putting them into concentration camps. $ to Stacey Abrams will have saved a lot more lives than money to pretty much any charity I can think of this past year. Not to say that donating to 501c3 charities isn’t important, but political action and political donations are not wasted efforts or wasted money if your end goal is to make the world a better place. They’re just not tax deductible.
Grumpy Nation, how do YOU decide how much to give to charity? Has this varied over your income/life?
(Not a sponsored post)
I’ve been having to use glasses sometimes to read the monitor, which is irritating and not a thing I used to have to do. Since the pandemic, my two newer pairs of glasses have been hanging out in each of our cars (since I’m no longer legal to drive without glasses) and I’ve been using an old prescription for working at the computer.
A few weekends ago, my old glasses just *disappeared*. I hadn’t left the house. Nobody had left the house! But they’re just gone. We did a thorough search of the house (including the kids) and it’s been weeks and they’re still missing. Just *poof*. Gone.
My other back-up pair has lenses that are so scratched that I’d rather just squint. And of course, DH has a different prescription.
So… I ended up going to zenni optical and buying a couple more pairs of glasses. To be honest, they’re not as good as my lenscrafters glasses, which tend to be perfect (whenever I need a new prescription, I wait for a conference and go to the same place I went in graduate school!)… I don’t think I get the pupil distance quite right. But they’re cheap! About $12 for no frills all told, and $31 all told if you include fancy add-ons like blue screen blocker. And they’re not terrible, especially if I get a pair that I can perch closer to the tip of my nose when using the computer.
I did determine this time around that you can subtract 3 from the pupil distance to get something more optimized for computer use. So I put in an order for a pair with a slightly varied pupil length and blue blocker ($28). It hasn’t come yet, but I need a Monday money post, so… But my hope is that it’s just the pupil length that hasn’t been quite right, since that doesn’t come with the prescription but is something needed when buying glasses.
Anyhow, getting a pair of glasses at lenscrafters is at least $100, sometimes closer to $200, not including the prescription. With zenni optical, I can afford to make mistakes and try out different things. Especially during a pandemic where I can’t really go to an expensive place and get fitted anyway.
Lady E asks:
I would love to read your review of Bridgerton on Netflix! I would be here for a full breakdown of your thoughts. I just binged the whole season, and am wondering how the show compares to the books (if you’ve read them)? Are the books worth my time if I need my next Bridgerton fix?
We were not aware of the series, so we can’t give any reviews. #1 is still several seasons behind on Psych (which ended in 2014!) and has difficulty watching anything longer than 20 minutes, so you would probably have to wait until her kids are both in college to get a review of the series. #2 generally prefers books to video adaptations.
In terms of the books… Some Julia Quinn books are decent, but overall she tends to have this problem where she has a strong start and then it just kind of peters out near the end. She does not stick endings. I think she writes under time pressure and doesn’t take the time to think or smooth out the endings and she doesn’t have an editor willing/able to fix them. She also has a lot of problematic “attempted rape as a plot device” tropes which are meh. She’s not one of my “must buy” or even “must check the library for” authors. I think I last read one of her books ~5 years ago and just kind of gave up on her after several duds in a row from the library. According to romancelandia, she’s one of the writers that (IMO better) writers grew up loving.
I asked a friend who has more time. She said they have a lot of on-screen sex… talking about sex is the reason DH and I are so behind on Big Bang Theory because it has been a few years since the in-laws took our kids for a week while we were at home. DC1 is old enough for BBT now, but not for watching on-screen intercourse with hir parents in the room. DC2 is not old enough for either. Bridgerton and this question will likely be long-forgotten by the time the youngest is out of the house.
Anyhow, here is her review, via text:
It was meh. No rape. Plenty of sex but not so much that I stopped watching. Lots of dancing and courting– a little boring. Like, my main complaint is that not enough happens. IMO there is nothing deep there to comment on. I like hearing Julie Andrews’ voice. I guessed correctly who the gossip writer is. The male lead is supposed to be damaged and complicated but he makes me roll my eyes. The female lead is sweet and pretty uncomplicated. There were no characters with enough depth for me to really fall in love with or feel any affinity for anyone. That’s all I’ve got.
I know romance twitter was pretty excited when Bridgerton was announced, especially with Shonda Rhimes involved (and lots of articles about how regency romances are not real in any sense of the word and yes there were plenty of not-white people in regency England so don’t be a racist bigot). They think the Duke is hawt. But since the series has come out I haven’t seen any commentary other than a cut of the Duke being hot set to Cardi B’s WAP. Oh, and apparently episode 6 is really questionable about consent, though my friend didn’t find it problematic. It could be that they’re underwhelmed but don’t feel like saying anything since they love Julia Quinn and Shonda Rhimes, or, more likely, they’re busy with their own deadlines after saving the future of US by helping to fund Stacy Abrams.
Here’s a commentary on the costumes … and a lot of other stuff too (spoilers!):
Grumpy Nation, what do you all think about the Bridgerton series? Which Julia Quinn books do you recommend, or what would you recommend for fans of the series?