Link Love

Other shady emolument things that GSA Emily Murphy has done for Trump.  Congress needs to have hearings on this years ago!

This paper is fascinating and really emphasizes the point that statistical discrimination can be caused by INCORRECT STEREOTYPES.

Also this paper is fascinating about how a 6 point scale reduces gender inequality in student ratings compared to a 10 point scale.

On not meeting Nazis halfway.

What to do about hateful images from the distant past

5 seasonal shopping tips.

Ask the Grumpies: Dollar Cost Averaging

First Gen American asks:

I’ve been sitting on too much cash for almost a year now. (I had 2 pension payouts among other things and it’s still not invested). Market has scared me and being very close to my magic retirement number I am much more gun shy now and I know it’s something I need to address….or do I? I think dollar cost averaging is the answer as that is why I didn’t invest when everything was 18000 because I don’t think at the time It was the bottom. It dropped more in 2008…but everyone says finding the bottom or top of the market is near impossible.

We are not professional financial advisors.  Please do your own research or listen to a fee-only financial planner with fiduciary responsibility (Not Edward Jones!) before making any important investing decisions.  #Disclaimer #pleasedontsueus

Walter Updegrave, who is one of my favorite professional popular personal finance peeps says that you should just invest the lump sum all at once in the asset allocation that you want.

This is retirement money.  Even if you start drawing on your retirement money in 10 years, you’re not going to be drawing down all of it for decades yet.  That means that the long term is what’s important, not the short term.  And by delaying, you are missing out on market ups, not just the market downs.  It is extremely unlikely that you will accidentally put money in at a 10 year peak.  Most likely, even if you put it in during a peak,

Remember, without a working crystal ball, you cannot optimize the market.  You can only get a good expected value.  You can only mitigate risk.  By the time you need this money, the market will have gone up, and it will have gone up more than leaving it in your 0.5% savings account.  On average, according to Updegrave, you’re better off putting the money into the market/bonds in a lump sum than you are dollar cost averaging.  In simulations, dollar cost averaging wasn’t even close to lump sum, assuming that your lump sum took into account your stock/bond mix.  The trick is that you diversify with market allocation, not just market timing.  That is, when stocks are doing well, bonds aren’t as attractive and when stocks aren’t doing well, bonds are more attractive.  Market allocation is something you can specify, but you cannot time the market itself.

So, bottom line, decide on your overall stock/bond allocation and use these lump sums to get your money into those percentages.  That’ll help you rebalance too!  Which is another thing that you can control better than you can control market timing.  You may also be able to save some on fees with a lump sum depending on how your brokerage works (if it’s a flat fee vs. %).

The one exception is if you are putting off doing lump sum investing because you’re trying to time the market.  If you just keep putting it off, then for goodness sakes, some of that money in the market is better than none, so dollar cost average it.  Basically, if you have a lump sum:  lump sum > dollar cost averaging > putting off putting a lump sum in.  If dollar cost averaging helps you actually take the plunge, then set it up!  Otherwise, just put that lump in today!

Stress Baking R Us

With DH’s company going under and all their work mostly being done, DH has had a lot of time for stress baking. Also he’s gotten a couple of dessert books (including one on cookies that MIL got him for Christmas!) (All Amazon links are affiliate)

Fruit and nut powerpack from Home Baking by Alford and Duguid.  This was a hearty dried fruit and hazelnut bread.

Nigella-date hearth bread from Home Baking by Alford and Duguid. I have decided I love nigella seeds–they taste like everything bagels all by themselves. This bread was soft and sweet and oniony and I loved it SO much. It doesn’t really need the dates, but it definitely needs the nigella seeds. (Also called charnushka if you’re getting them from Penzey’s, I think.)

These are chocolate tuilles from DH’s new cookie book that he got for Christmas: Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy by Alice Medrich. I found them a bit overly sweet. They were super crispy day one and still crispy day 2, but kind of got sad day 3. They’re really the kind of cookie I expect with something like ice cream or pudding at a fancy restaurant, but not on its own, you know?  They were also a bit of a pain to make so halfway through DH gave up and just made two giant sheets.

This is Pane con Pomodori e cipolle rosse from bread by Treuille and Ferrigno. OMG I loved this one so much. It’s a tomato onion bread, which meant DC1 refused to even try it, so it lasted a couple days. It was still good at the end! It’s I dunno, it seems more like a meal than bread. It’s savory and wonderful and very good with melty butter.

These are coconut sticks from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy by Medrich. My notes: Wonderful, amazing, coconutty but not too much. What the coconut cookie in the Danish tin wishes it could be.

I think this is just a plain white loaf from Treuille and Ferrigno, which may be the first recipe in the book. DH was looking for something not ostentatious that would be a good vehicle for jam after doing a bunch of fancy breads. He’s made this one a few times, but not as twisty. I could be wrong though. This could be some other bread. Who knows!

Gorgonzola and Walnut Pizza from Pizza by Williams Sonoma. It’s advertised as a savory dessert pizza and I think it would do very well. It’s super easy to make too and quite impressive. Like, just pizza dough, blue cheese, walnuts, and some kind of citrus zest on top. Super easy and very fancy.

DH woke up one morning and said, what if I made snickerdoodles but with cardamom instead of cinnamon? So he made snickerdoodles from the Old Fashioned Cookbook by Jan MacBride Carleton and half of them had cardamom sugar and the other half cinnamon sugar. It was a brilliant idea. Cardamom sugar works really well with a snickerdoodle dough. Try it sometime!

Zopf, which is a swiss braided loaf from bread by Treuille and Ferrigno. DH notes, “Great, but it’s really just challah.”

Doesn’t that hot gooey mozarella/gorgonzola mixture look amazing? It was. This is Foccia Farcita from bread by Treuille and Ferrigno. It was spectacular. This is how much was left after I got out of class. Luckily they saved both pieces for me (I had one for lunch and then one the next day.)

I think this is a modified bean bread that DH made from the Laurel’s Kitchen Bread book. One of my work colleagues knows I really like red bean paste so sometimes she drops some off with me, and this time DH made bread with it.

Hot cross buns from The Old Fashioned Cookbook by Jan MacBride Carleton. These are so good. Like, if I got them at a super expensive bakery in the city I would not be disappointed at all. They’re rich with nutmeg and the dough is just perfect. There are little presents (but not too many) of candied fruit and dried fruit (thank you nuts.com) inside. They’re just wonderful. These are the unfrosted version.  (You can see the red bean container in the back there with the green lid.)

Hot cross buns with frosting. The frosting itself is a wonderful complement but I can’t have too much. Generally what I did was take an unfrosted bun and scrape off a little frosting from the pan where it dripped. These are so so good. Unbelievably good.

… some kind of bread. Probably from Treuille and Ferrigno, but some of them look alike after a while.

What a lovely looking bread that DH made on October 28th. Do I remember what it was? Nope!  Maybe Pain de campagne from Treuille and Ferrigno?

Focaccia con olive from Treuille and Ferrigno. This was super yummy. Very soft and fluffy. Did not last long.

Well, what a nice looking loaf this is. Do I recognize what kind? Nope. Is this from back in October, yep. I would eat a slice now. I bet it is good with butter.  AHA!  It is South African Seed Bread from Treuille and Ferrigno.  It was good with butter.

DH made one of the fruitcakes in the Old Fashioned Cookbook. This was the only one we hadn’t made yet because it was pounds and pounds of candied and dried fruits and nuts and it just seemed like a lot. Boy was it a lot. But DC1 took a liking to it and it disappeared in a few days. I prefer a fruitcake with a bit higher bread to stuff ratio. I found this one a bit overwhelming. (Don’t get me wrong, I love fruitcake, but this one wasn’t my favorite.)

This is probably irish soda bread. DH often gets a hankering for it and just bakes it. We have three different recipes he rotates between, but I’m not sure which one this is, other than I don’t think it’s the one from the old fashioned cookbook which looks lighter.

Pumpkin cookies from the recipe DH’s mom uses (probably from the back of a pumpkin can several decades ago) in their unfrosted state and some kind of onion flatbread I’m not immediately finding in Treuille and Ferrigno.  But maybe it’s a pizza from Williams Sonoma?

Barefoot Contessa brownies.

Pretty sure this is a pizza from Pizza by Williams Sonoma.

Pumpkin Pie. We used the old fashioned cookbook recipe because that’s my go-to. I think I actually made this one, though DH did the pie crust.

Pain aux Noix, from Treuille and Ferrigno. This is Walnut bread.

DH bought himself a cake book. This does not have any chocolate in it, but it is from a book called Chocolat by Alice Medrich. It was pretty amazing. This is an apricot souffle. It was a multiple step process.

This is what a slice of the apricot souffle looked like.

French Apple tart from Home Baking. Yum.

An olive hearth bread from Treuille and Ferrigno. This did not last very long.

Pumpkin bread from Treuille and Ferrigno.

Italian Cherry Torte from Chocolat by Medrich. This is the unfrosted version.

This the frosted version.  We loved it and said it was even better day two.

Chocolate hazlenut torte from Chocolat by Medrich. Divine.

Some kind of fruit crumble but we can’t remember where it was from. Maybe Cook’s Country? September is a long time ago.

Cornbread?

This is tea sandwich bread from made in a pullman loaf pan from an online recipe. (Which we got one year when I wanted English tea really badly but could not get it.)

 

What looks good?  Do you have anything exciting planned for Thanksgiving eating?

We had to get a new router (and better internet)

Our house or something near our house got hit by lightening, which killed the wired connection to both of our computers somehow (it also blew a ton of fuses and somehow managed to break two of the lighbulbs above the stove, but nowhere else).  The wireless was still fine, but half the router was fried.  (Thankfully DH is super risk averse and has a very fancy surge protector on our desktops.)

On top of that, having 4 people needing to video conference at the same time was putting us dangerously close to our data limit and would occasionally cause DC1 to drop internet during things like exams (this was especially problematic after the lightening strike).

So we upped our internet plan to get unlimited data for an additional $10/month, which also doubled our speed.

After some searching, DH decided on this router, and this modem, though he got them from best buy instead of amazon (all amazon links are affiliate links).

It is great.  We haven’t had any data dropping problems since.  It does a much better job of covering DC1’s station in the breakfast nook and DC2’s station in the dining room.  Wireless is still about the same speed as before, but my and DH’s wired speed has doubled to just under 200 Mbps dl.  And we can walk around the house without losing and then picking up wireless again, which is a nice bonus.  DH says that’s because it switches between 5g and regular wireless automatically.

I had also tried to get a new webcam since DC1 needed DH’s for school and DC2 has commandeered my laptop.  Since March I’d basically been using my iPad Pro as a camera which meant I had to have two zoom windows open (not a problem for office hours when I need to switch between whiteboard and desktop so need both windows anyway, but a problem for some meetings).  But when we tried, they were all out of stock everywhere.  Just recently, DH’s relative’s kid, the only one in community college, needed a web-cam for remote school exams and looking for one made us realize that they were back in stock.  We got her a cheap $40 one and we got me a super fancy C922x Pro Stream by logitech.  (I think we would have made this same choice had we known DH’s company was going under at the time.)

If you want more information, here is DH back in September:

The recent storm damaged our current modem + router, the Arris SURFboard SBG6782-AC, such that the ethernet sockets no longer work, though the wifi does. This has 8 download channels and 4 upload channels (8×4).

I am going to buy a new modem and router, because I am worried that this one will eventually fail.

Our ISP says that any DOCSIS 3.0 compatible modem will work. That apparently includes DOCSIS 3.1 modems that are also compatible with 3.0, according to Amazon reviews of various modems.

I think I want to get a separate modem and router, instead of an all-in-one, because I want a better router that will reach across the house.

Puma chips are bad. https://www.classactionlawyers.com/puma6/

Meanwhile, Broadcom chips may be susceptible to the Cable Haunt exploit. https://cablehaunt.com/
The Netgear CM1000 is listed as vulnerable, as is the Arris Surfboard SB8200. But not the Motorola MB8600.

The Motorola MB8600 is Wirecutter’s “upgrade” pick, a 32×8 DOCSIS 3.1/3.0 modem. https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-cable-modem/

On the router side, wifi 6 (i.e., 802.11ax) has been released relatively recently, and though we do not have any devices that would take advantage of it, I would like to get it if possible. Tri-band is more important though.
I looked into mesh router systems, but they are expensive and they all seem to get seriously negative reviews. Our house isn’t that big (~2800 sq feet unheated area [Editor:  (!)]), so a single good router should be sufficient. Review sites recommend making sure the router has a good processor and RAM.

Based on the Wirecutter recommendation, and the price point of ~$200, I got the TP-Link Archer A20 (AC4000), which is a wifi 5 tri-band.
https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-wi-fi-router/

And here’s DH after purchasing:

I’ve really been enjoying the higher speeds, the higher reliability (and lower congestion due to the router’s two 5GHz channels, aka tri-band), the ability to get a good signal all the way at the other end of the house, and the router’s “smart connect” that automatically switches between the three bands.

The modem and router are somewhat overkill, because they could handle a 1Gbps speed, while our plan tops out at 400Mbps, but they work so well that I’m glad we went with these.
And they run a bit warm to the touch, but not hot like some modem+router combos we have used before.

Has your place ever been hit by lightening?  How do you handle internet problems?  What’s your internet situation?

Link love

I wish I were as eloquent as Ned Stebler.

Disney is refusing to honor contracts from companies it has purchased while still reaping the benefits from said contracts.

Ask the readers: The Christmas lottery has already been breached

Dearest readers,

Long term readers may remember how SIL, upon being diagnosed with twins (children #3 and #4) this summer, suggested that instead of everybody giving gifts to everybody as that is DH’s family’s love language, that instead we draw names from a bag and only give to the person whose name we had drawn.

It is not yet Thanksgiving and we have all four of us already received Christmas gifts from MIL.  (Also from SIL, but only for DC2, whose name she drew.  The kids’ gifts are sitting in boxes in my closet waiting for after Thanksgiving to be put in gift bags.  Except Children of Virtue and Vengeance because DC1 has it on hold from the library and there’s a long line after hir so…)  I *think* it’s less money than she usually spends (~$30/person instead of $80-$100+… not that I keep track), but also… it’s not yet Thanksgiving.  We often think she’s done with holiday purchases and end up being wrong.  This may just be the “off our wishlists” portion.  Or it may be all.  (Except DC1 will probably get something for hir birthday.)

DH also just bought a (bread baking) book for his brother’s wife but was like, this is not a Christmas gift, do not retaliate (brother was all, no worries, this is not a big deal, but I’m sure his wife is happy to have expectations made explicit), and also wants to buy his brother a cheap video game that they can play together with the other relative they’re friends with.

And should we renew the Braille subscription for DH’s brother’s blind daughter?

Should we also ignore the name drawing thing and send gifts back to MIL and FIL?  Just have the kids send (homemade crafty) gifts to MIL?  Send something smaller than usual? Stick rigidly to the name drawing thing?  Not worry about it because the in-laws have savings and nice pensions and I still make a lot of money so whatever we do is fine?

What would you do?  Any stories of what happens when these kinds of rules break down?

Words matter: language changes that can help everyone (except bigots) feel included

  • Don’t say men and women unless you specifically mean men and women.  Do say people or adults or whatever subgroup you’re talking about.
  • Dont say blacks.  Do say Black people.
  • Start using the singular they, or if you have difficulty with that, switch examples to plurals.
  • Include “other” options in demographic surveys.
  • Don’t say ghetto even if it is a jargon term in your field.  Say ethnic enclave if that is what you mean.
  • Instead of God giving you something, you got it from Nature or picked it up at the physics supply store (where you can also buy infinitely thin string and frictionless surfaces).

What are other language changes you’ve made?

RBOC

  • One of DH’s relative’s kids has gotten married and is moving out (this is the one in year 3 at the local community college).  What’s really weird is that renting a house is $650/month, but there are houses for purchase for $20K!  And although they all need major work, none of them are former meth labs (last time I checked for one near DH’s parents house before DH’s sister had twins and I was thinking about future Christmas visits, there was a former meth lab listed super cheap).  I joked that we should buy one (not a meth lab) and rent it out, but then I remembered that rent is probably so high because it’s really risky renting out to people in that town– if they were good with money they’d buy a place.  Nice houses that don’t need work are more in the 100-200K range, which is still pretty cheap.
  • Another of DH’s relative’s kids was going to have a Halloween party, but then one of his friends got Covid and all the rest ended up in quarantine for two weeks.  So… lucky miss there.  Also DH’s tiny home town is in bad shape with covid, if it isn’t obvious.
  • DH’s sister’s tiny town is also having a bad covid outbreak.  It’s like they have no cases and then *bam* they’re in the redzone because it gets to a couple of nursing homes.  I guess this is why it’s important to be careful even if it seems like it is silly.  You never know when it’s going to hit your town unless there are good systems of contact tracing etc.
  • Boy, savings rates (APY) sure have plummeted since March.  My online is only getting 0.5%, which I guess is better than nothing but maybe it’s time to move some cash into the market.  Though every time I think something like that, the market crashes so… maybe I should just spend it.  :)  [Narrator:  She did not just spend it.  And the market crashed, but that’s ok because it is still sitting in savings.]
  • The second hero in Boyfriend Material eats this thing called Bircher for breakfast.  Since I made DH read the book, he noticed it and decided that we should try it.  It’s basically muesli soaked overnight in almond milk, both things we had (the grocery store we’ve been doing curbside at has these promotions where if you buy one thing you get something else free, so we ended up with a thing of almond milk, and I really like having cereal with no added sugar so we tend to have muesli if it is available, which it has been).  He also put in a grated apple.  Turns out Bircher is really good AND I don’t get hungry or even want to snack until like 1pm.  There are recipes, but it’s basically just a recipe to make your own muesli and then soak it overnight with almond milk and fruit.
  • Thoroughly Modern Millie the movie is … racist.  But I tried watching the broadway version and Jimmy is such a jerk!!!  The meet cute in the movie (Tapioca!  Everybody!) is SO much better than the meet cute in the musical.  Like, if I were 20 years younger and not in love with DH, I would totally want to date movie Jimmy.  I still like the sound tracks of both though.  (Also this elevator scene! So fun!)
  • The grocery store we’ve been doing curbside with had a special on cheap frozen pizzas (Tombstone and DiGiorno), so I got some.  They tasted like nostalgia to me.  But DC1 was a bit repulsed and said they tasted like school pizza on the non-Pizza Hut days.  Sometimes I wonder if we’ve created monsters with our kids, DC1 in particular.  (DC2 tends to be more open and interested in trying new foods.)  On the one hand, DC1 dislikes a lot of truly unhealthy food.  On the other hand, living on just sushi alone can get expensive!  Though DH said he never got frozen pizza growing up, they only had pizza from the local place.
  • Speaking of pizza– if you want a super easy elegant savory dessert, take pizza dough, then cover it with walnuts and blue cheese and bake.  You can also add lemon or lime zest and a little olive oil on top before baking for an additional elegance.  (Idea courtesy of Williams Sonoma.)

Link love

This twitter thread explains a lot of vaccine stuff.

Trump-associated firm helped send unmarked texts urging vote protests in Philadelphia

Local GOP firm asks Republicans to send in their absentee ballots after the election.

Read this thread by NK Jemison on messaging 

Courtney Milan suggests donating to charitable organizations in Georgia in order to help people be secure enough to vote.

Mike the Mad Biologist usually irritates the crud out of me (he’s on someone’s blogroll) because he’s always telling Democrats that they’re doing everything wrong (as if he’s not one?)– he’s like that irritating dude nitpicking and talking over and doing nothing except complaining when all the women activists who are working their rear ends off actually doing things — and he’s always saying things that makes it clear he thinks only white working class men are people who actually exist (them and eeeevil high income coastal elites)– but he’s had a few posts recently that make him sound like maybe he’s starting to get a clue? I thought this one about asking Republicans about how they’re reaching out to Democrats was a good one. (Don’t read his clueless and factually questionable Hawt Taek though. Especially if you’re a woman who has ever had to deal with that irritating useless negative guy when you’re trying to do political organizing.)

Celeste_p says to call your lawmakers, especially if your MOC are Republican, to demand that they publicly condemn the idea that Biden did not win the election and that they force the GSA to start the transition to Biden so we don’t end up with another 9/11.  Check out her twitter feed for newer stuff, but here’s a script.  The last page also has one for democrat senators.

Or you can use this delightful script from Indivisible Austin (insert your own Republican senator’s name for Cornyn/Cruz) :

Also… I have to say, a competent person would have gotten a LOT more money out of selling our country to Russia.  Trump is a terrible negotiator.  And it looks like he’s trying to sell more:

Ask the grumpies: How do aesthetics influence the things you buy?

Steph asks:

When do aesthetics influence the things that you buy, and for which things does functionality matter more? I’m currently overthinking this question in terms of buying a car, and also had a related debate about computers with a couple of art majors a few years ago.

#1 is really a Form Follows Function devotee.  And yet, that aesthetic can still be beautiful.  I tend to narrow down to the best object, and then choose aesthetics after.

Grumpy Nation:  How much do you care about aesthetics?  Where does beauty fit into your purchasing equations?