Link Love

A woman affected by prenatal rubella in vitro has this message for anti-vaxxers

Sustained and ongoing disinformation assault targets Dem presidential candidates

How the government abused eminent domain the last time it built a border fence in Texas

I am reminded what a great book this is

What are twitter reply guys?

Cristiane Serruya is a serial plagiarist

Time spent learning isn’t wasted

Don’t feel bad if you can’t retire early.

2018 books of the year megapost (I already bought one and it was fun!)

Taking an afternoon break and saw this on a blog: and first I was like, I should never make that because I will eat NOTHING BUT THAT FOREVER. And then I realized that I have just a *little* bit of leftover pretzels at home already… I have all the ingredients at home already… dot dot dot. (IM from later tonight: FOOD COMA SEND HELP)

night shift

I don’t know how to feel about this.

In case you’re wondering how I’m doing on the February challenge:  I’m on rung 4.  Oddly, I’m having more trouble with the pushups than the sit-ups.  In the past it has always been the other way around.  The other week I did get a terrible leg cramp after running, so I’m a bit concerned that there’s not enough stretching or something in this workout.

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Ask the grumpies: Why Leah needs to get a will

Leah asks:

How essential is a will, and how do I get over the inertia and actually get one since I suspect it’s likely really important?

If you don’t have kids, a will probably isn’t that essential unless you’re wealthy and care what happens to your money after you’re gone.  You’ll be dead and may not care if your potential heirs end up giving all your money to lawyers trying to figure out who gets what.  If that’s the case, just let probate deal with stuff.  If you’re wealthy enough to be affected by the estate tax, dying without a will means that the government will probably end up with a greater share as well, but I have a hard time feeling sorry for people in that category.

If you have kids who are not yet adults, you need a will because you need to make it clear where your kids will go (and who will take care of their money) in the event that both parents die.  This alone is the reason we got wills.  If you have kids, providing for their future care is an important responsibility and should be done ASAP.  You don’t want them to end up in the foster care system even temporarily.  It’s also important to make sure that you have named the person who will be taking care of any assets you leave them, for example, the life insurance that you have also purchased because you have minor children.  We have named DH’s brother and his wife’s family as the first place our kids would go (with their permission), but my sister would be in charge of their inheritance.  Her values about paying for education and so on are more in line with ours and she would be better able to force DH’s brother and wife to take an annual stipend for their upkeep.

It is also useful to have advance directives about what happens if you are incapacitated, though depending on what state you live in, you can do this with your doctor or using an online form rather than with your lawyer.  This was part of the full package when we did our wills.  Here’s the info for MinnesotaMichigan allows you to file yours in a statewide registry, which is pretty cool.

How to get over the inertia?

Right now.  I mean, literally right now, contact a bunch of people in your area to ask them who they have used for a will.  Once you’ve got a name, MAKE AN APPOINTMENT.  Spring break is probably a good time to actually go in, but make that appointment now.

Now, they may send you a long form asking detailed minutia about your assets.  If your net worth is nowhere near the estate tax limit, do not let this form stop you from actually going in.  Let them know that you don’t need anything fancy because your wealth is lower than 2.7 million, the estate tax limit in Minnesota (or 11.4 million if you live in Michigan, since Michigan has no estate tax…), (actually, let them know it’s lower than 1 or 2 million if that is true), so that other stuff is irrelevant.  Then you might not need to fill out the form.

You, Leah, (and your DH) need a will because you have kids.  Having a will is the responsible thing to do.  It will be pricey (ours was ~$500, but that was a decade ago!  Though we get to update ours for free in perpetuity as part of that upfront cost), but it will be worth it for your kids if the worst possible thing happens.  It’s worth saving up for.  It’s worth taking out of your emergency fund.

Grumpeteers, how did you get your will done?  Anyone have success with online outfits like legalzoom?

What are we reading? Light romance.

I continue wading through everything Amanda Quick/Jayne Ann Krentz/Jayne Castle (they’re all the same person).  I have found that the Arcane/Harmony series gets better and better the more of them you read because she adds all sorts of great inside jokes that you start picking up on.  I can see why she’s able to charge $9/kindle book for that series.  Fortunately most libraries seem to have them all.

(#2 adds: I’ve been really digging the Krentz contemporary books in the Arcane Society series.  I’m trying to read the whole thing in order.  #1 has read them out of order and that works too, but she’s definitely planning on trying reading them in order on the reread.  If only they weren’t so expensive!)

While Krentz’s stuff from the 90s is really forward and could have been written in this decade in terms of gender equality and lack of rape (disclaimer:  it seems like any time there’s a mental institution, there’s a past attempted rape, and a few of her historicals have back stories with a bad guy talking about raping one of the minor characters, but not actually ever coming into contact with her, generally because he dies a painful death on his way up the stairs, and in the contemporary Secret Sisters he actually does manage to drag the protagonist out of her house in the prologue before dying a painful death), but her 1985 book Witchcraft, while not anywhere near as bad as any of the Baloghs from the 1980s, really does fit into the crappy alpha male taking away the heroine’s agency theme.  Thankfully she stopped doing that decades ago!  (In her later stuff, sometimes the alpha male hero will attempt to take away the heroine’s agency, but will fail completely because she’s an alpha female.  More often, though, they talk it out and come to joint decisions.)

Finally got off the wait list at the library for Crazy Rich Asians.  It’s great!  One thing I wasn’t expecting were all the helpful footnotes with translations and cultural explanations for things.  Update:  Man the B-story is STUPID.  Soon I’ll start the sequel, China Rich Girlfriend.

#1 got Rafe the Buff Male Nanny and it was as advertised.  Everyone except the ex-husband all behaves so sensibly!  It does kind of end abruptly with an epilogue that ties things together, but I guess if it didn’t she would have to manufacture some unnecessary drama, so this is definitely better than that alternative.

What are y’all reading, Grumpeteers?

Making a hole in the wall look pretty while still being accessible

Long-time readers may recall that a while back we got a whole-house water filter.  It was a saga.  One of the things they had to do was cut holes in the drywall, which they then taped back up.   Since one of the holes was in DH’s closet, he decided to make it prettier.  Then he wrote up this post and sent it to me.

Picture of a square hole in the wall and ugly tape marks

The hole

The plumbers had to cut into the closet to access the pipes when they installed the whole house water filter. When they were done, they just used duct tape to stick the drywall plug back in the hole. The duct tape looked pretty hacky, though luckily it is in a really out-of-the-way spot (the corner of a closet, right beside a built-in, right above the baseboard).

I like having access to pipes/manifolds, so I didn’t want to just seal/patch over the hole. I wanted a framed door, and could not figure out how to make one easily. So instead, I glued the frame (really baseboard I hand-cut to fit) to the drywall plug, added a knob (with a large washer in back to spread out the force on the drywall), and touched up the paint.

The resulting “door” looks much better, and it just pulls out. It could almost just stand up by itself, but was slightly tilting forward and would fall out, so I added a small square of velcro to the top of the frame to hold it to the wall.

I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out. If I were to do it again: 1) I found it hard to cut the 45 degree angles on the baseboard by hand since we don’t have a table saw, so I would see if I could get Home Depot to cut at least a couple of them nicely, and 2) I don’t like the way the velcro is visible from the top and it results in a gap between the frame and the wall, so I would probably try removing the velcro and instead placing some kind of foam around the drywall plug so that it would be held in the hole by the force of the foam around it. I should probably still go around that corner of the closet with putty to fill in the various little gaps.

So I (#1) think that’s pretty cool.  I don’t normally pay much attention to aesthetics, but this is a really nice example of form follows function.  We had long discussions about how to make this area look nicer while still allowing access, and, importantly, letting future home-owners/renters know that there’s something important back there should they need access (say there’s a leak or a plug).  Making an actual door would be too much effort and would probably allow drafts in (given hinges etc.), but this looks like a door so it signals that there’s something behind there, while still looking pretty.  We also discussed the merits of velcro vs. magnets, but magnets are potentially more dangerous (given kids and animals), and it’s not like this is going to be opened and closed frequently enough to make the velcro wear out.

Link Love: Protest on Monday, Call/Fax your MOC this weekend

President Trump went full Fascist this week, declaring a fake state of emergency to steal funding for his wall from other projects, and we need to protest this assault on democracy.  Yes, I know (hope, really, don’t know for sure because who knows anything these days) that the courts will probably put a stop to this eventually, but we still need to take action because if we don’t, he will keep pushing the limits, and the next thing may not be stoppable.  Congress needs to do their job to prevent him from destroying the country.  He is only able to do this because he is being enabled.  Mueller is not going to save us.  We have to save ourselves and future generations.  Bustle is providing an updated list of what to do.  Events for Monday are still being planned and posted, so if you don’t see one nearby on this website, check back later.   Here’s the 5calls script.  Because it is a 3 day weekend, it is likely that the voicemails will fill up.  You can send a fax for free from this website.

I can’t believe that it was only earlier this week that we found out about Bezos, the National Enquirer, the Saudi’s, Trump, and the Blackmailing of US Democracy.  If you missed it, the Enquirer, a huge supporter of Trump, tried to blackmail Bezos with dick picks.  Bezos, being a billionaire and well on his way to a divorce, wrote about the blackmail instead of succumbing to it.  But if they’re doing it to Bezos, can this also account for a lot of the Republicans who suddenly turned around to back whatever crazy fascist thing Trump wants to do?  It’s not paranoid to connect those dots.

Florida detention center expands, packing in migrant children “like sardines”

Contractors building Trump’s wall in TX are ALREADY DESTROYING a butterfly refuge.

Field notes from an ethnographic description of school shooter training.  It’s pretty awful.

23 black female scientists who changed the world

Books to check your white privilege

We have racist GOP ranked members and GOP members meeting with Holocaust deniers, but pundits and (d) leadership micropick at Illhan Omar even if they don’t know what she meant.

Harassment in the D&D development community.

The DIY divorce

If you inherit retirement accounts, you may be required to take minimum distributions while you’re still young.

Manage money anxiety

I thought she could have gone a little farther with this from the RE side (I don’t think the FI part is very MLM-y, but boy howdy does some of the Retire Early crowd exist this way):  Why the FI movement sounds like MLM

Financial blogs/forums for the Prius millionaire

Object oriented programming concepts

How to be alone by lane moore book review by captain awkward.

This thread on Vivienne Westwood’s 1994 line, or no officer, I don’t know how my wealthy husband died, is brilliant.

Ask the grumpies: IRA with Vanguard or TIAA-CREF?

Steph asks:

I’ve managed to swing one month of actual wages this year (my salary is usually all a stipend/fellowship), which means I can put some money in an IRA! I have an existing IRA with Vanguard, but the 1 month job will also let me put money directly into an IRA at TIAA Cref. I won’t quite make enough to hit the yearly max, even pre-tax, and there’s no matching. I’m leaning Vanguard – do you have any suggestions?

Disclaimer:  We are not professional anything except academics– do your own research and/or consult actual professionals before making important monetary decisions.

You are correct to prefer Vanguard.

Vanguard has better fees for IRAs than does TIAA-Cref.  Vanguard is pretty nice to work with.  You already have an existing IRA with Vanguard, so you’ve already done the hard part of getting it set up.

The nice thing about TIAA-Cref is that they will send a person to hold your hand if you need help with something.  But this is just a basic IRA and you’ve already got one.  The TIAA-Cref option is better for people who just aren’t going to get an IRA unless they get help from someone in person.  Which isn’t you.

Finally, depending on how much money you have invested and how you have it invested (we presume low cost broad-based index funds), Vanguard has even lower fees for its admiral funds.  If putting more money in allows you to hit the threshold, then you’ll be paying an even smaller percentage in fees than you were before.

So… I don’t see any downside for keeping with Vanguard or any upside for putting an IRA into TIAA-Cref.

 

On Art (not ART) and creativity

(Because I have plenty of experience with ART .)

There’s been some recent twitter kerfuffles about quitting one’s day job to pursue one’s CREATIVITY.  Scalzi talks about his take on the movement in this post.

… I suspect I am not “a creative”*

I would far far rather read novels than write them. Writing a novel sounds like work.  Writing any kind of *book* sounds like a lot of work.

Also: I have no artistic talent.

So… I’m pretty happy not having some kind of creative passion that I’m supposed to be fitting into my copious free time or quitting my job to do.

Yay me?

Are you a creative?  Do you find the time to create?

*no, I don’t think this blog counts as a creative passion… I’m not sure what we could call it, but… we’re not quitting our jobs to monetize it.