Ask the grumpies: Self-care during a bigoted election season

Anu asks:

What are your suggestions for self-care during this crazy election, particularly when there is rampant misogyny and racism in the air?

#1 and #2 have had two very different approaches to this.

#1 recommends ostriching.

#2 has been spending way too much time following things.  She strongly recommends reading docrocktex26.

She’s also been donating money, subversively wearing pro-Hillary shirts on weekends, and cheering on her sister’s volunteer efforts (and feeling slightly guilty for not volunteering herself).

Looks like the washington post reports that the APA also has those two suggestions— either limit your media reading or go do something about what’s bothering you.

[It should be noted that #1 seems to be in perfectly good health this election season and #2 keeps getting sick (currently with an upper respiratory infection).  So maybe ostriching is healthier.  Or maybe students are just foul vectors of disease during midterms.]

Also I like the Hillary Shimmy song and I watch a lot of Seth Meyers.  I watch other comics too but turn them off when they get sexist.  (Seth Meyers has been really good about that this election season… so, oddly, has been Bill Maher.  Colbert a bit of a disappointment in that respect, and Trevor Noah varies– sometimes he’s spot on with regards to misogyny and sometimes he completely misses.  And of course Samantha Bee.)

And, like HRC herself, we are big fans of cat videos.

There’s not that much time left until November 8th. So hang in there!

How about you, grumpy nation, what self-care tips do you have for this election season?

Soliciting more ask the grumpies

Ask the grumpies is a feature we run every Friday or every other Friday depending (sometimes it alternates with the less-popular but still fascinating google questions).  You ask, we answer, or we punt and ask the grumpy nation to answer.  In any case, you get the benefit of not only our wisdom but the collective wisdom of the far wiser grumpy nation.

What questions do you have for us?  What can we bring clarity or further confusion to?  What can the grumpy nation ponder and discuss on your behalf?  Ask in the comments below or email us at grumpyrumblings at gmail dot com.

Ask the grumpies: Why is it so hard to stop worrying about what other people do?

Leah asks:

Why is it so darn hard to stop worrying about what other people do? At work, I can’t control what others do. Their choices do affect me, somewhat. But I can’t control it. How do I learn to stop fretting about this?

#1: Heck if we know. I suck at not worrying. I mean, maybe just get older and you care less about what other people are doing? I dunno.

#2:  Getting older helps a lot!  There’s just too much going on to care about other people unless it directly affects you.

I’m irritated that my TA isn’t getting problem sets done on time.  I worry that my students will learn less because of it.  I’m worried that there is something I could do that would make things better but I’m not sure what.  I’m not sure there’s anything wrong with me having those worries.  And maybe fretting will help me come to a solution, I dunno.

Economists tend to really take to heart the idea that we should not fret about sunk costs, but to do cost-benefit analysis for things that we could still change.  If it’s worth it, change it, if it’s not worth it, then you’ve made the decision.  If it’s something you really can’t control, just accept it and expect it because there’s nothing else you can do.  (Serenity…)

But in reality, I dunno.  There’s often just too much uncertainty so you don’t really know what the costs and benefits are and it’s not clear what the effects of any action would be.  People are unpredictable.

So I guess we’re punting this one too (we tend to put the hard ask the grumpies last…).  Does the grumpy nation have any advice?

Ask the grumpies: PF blogs?

Rosa asks:

Are there any PF blogs, not on your blogroll, that you recommend?

As you note, we read the ones on our blogroll.  From miser-mom, one of us reads Planting Our Pennies.  From Donna Freedman I’ll often click on Ipickuppennies.

Feral homemaking doesn’t update anymore, but her blogroll is pretty active, so sometimes it’s worth clicking on that.  Most of the stuff on her blogroll is about living on a lot less, which really isn’t our thing these days.  Standouts include Non-consumer advocate and the frugal girl, which is kind of the opposite of non-consumer advocate in that it often has sponsored posts.  I find I really can’t read a lot of the other blogs like I used to because I feel guilty for having so much when some people have so little.

I used to read a bunch of stuff off of femme frugality‘s blogroll, but she got rid of the blogroll so I only rarely catch up on savespendsplurge or budgetandthebeach and similar well-heeled formerly 20-something bloggers.  If she still had the blogroll I would probably read more of their posts when the titles were interesting.

Other regular reads include:

A Gai Shan Life, but she’s not solely PF.

nzmuse, similar to a gai shan life in terms of not being solely pf

Occasional reads include:

Afford Anything – she posts about once a month and her posts are really interesting– usually she’s only talking about real estate investing which I have less than zero interest in (like, you would have to pay me a ton to get me to do real estate investing), but despite that, I still find it fascinating.

Leighpf – every post that Leigh does is a gem, but unfortunately for us she’s been posting *less* than once a month.  We are grateful that she still comments on other people’s blogs!  I’d say she’s the one PF blogger that I still learn things from.  I would be interested in knowing what PF blogs *she* finds useful.  (Note:  sometimes she points out good posts on her twitter feed.)

a windy city gal sometimes posts about finances

solitary diner sometimes posts about finances

stacking pennies updates once or twice a month

retirebyforty  doesn’t really have anything for me, but I’m vaguely interested in Joe’s financial life

club thrifty  Their posts are mostly PF 101 or travel hacks, so I only stop by occasionally these days.

evolving pf  Only posts about once a month now and mostly only life updates.

Financial Sam –  I suspect that many of his posts are just trolling, but occasionally I’ll stop by out of morbid curiosity.

yuppiemillennial —  She posts somewhat sporadically or I’d read her more regularly instead of waiting for her to comment here.  I did read her engineering PF blog regularly but she took it down.

I would read more formerly oilandgarlic, formerly etc.   But either she’s on a hiatus or she’s moved to another blog that I haven’t figure out yet!

Blogs I don’t read often but (I think) are still around:

There are a bunch of bloggers who used to comment on our blog but no longer do.  Whenever I stop by out of curiosity, I notice that their posts tend to be PF 101 stuff, so there’s not much incentive to stop by regularly.  People who are just starting (probably not Rosa) would probably find them more useful.  These include folks like squirrelers, budgeting the fun stuff, step away from the mall, retire by 40, little house, etc.  (For all I know some of these may have been sold.)

From time to time I’ll look at frugalwoods, but I dunno, before they moved I started to find the blog to be pretty repetitive and after they moved it became less interesting.  When the headline on Mr. Money Moustache is interesting, I’ll read that off Miser mom’s blog roll.

So I really don’t have anything new for you!  I bet there’s not a single name up there that you don’t recognize.

But maybe our readers have suggestions?

Ask the grumpies: Favorite podcasts?

Meaghan asks:

 Favorite podcasts?

#1 listens to a bunch, including Dear Hank and John.  I tried Here to Make Friends and couldn’t get into it.

Podcasts from the Maximum Fun family:  Jordan Jesse GO is the main one.  I stopped listening to Judge John Hodgman because the answer was always the same: People like what they like.  I sometimes have listened to The Adventure Zone or My Brother, My Brother, and Me— both of which star the McElroy brothers doing zany things, sometimes with other members of their family.  I listened to a few of Baby Geniuses and Throwing Shade, and I’m thinking of trying Lady to Lady.

Book podcasts:  Book Fight, where two writers talk about books and argue about why they’re good or bad; also sometimes includes features like Fanfiction Corner and Raccoon News.  I listen to some of the Book Riot family of podcasts, including the original Book Riot podcast.  I also listen to Get Booked, which is a book recommendation show, and sometimes The Reading Life if they’re interviewing someone I want to listen to.  I stopped listening to Dear Book Nerd because I felt like I knew the answers better than the host did.  :-)   I can’t listen to All The Books because my TBR list is already way too long!  Sometimes I’ve also listened to Oh, Comics!

Random other podcasts:  Sometimes I re-listen to old episodes of The Indoor Kids, because I find it soothing.  I wish they’d come back from hiatus, but that doesn’t seem likely anytime soon.  Very nerdy.  I also listen to Ditch Diggers, by Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace, which is about the business side of writing.  I used to listen to Writing Excuses, which is more about the craft of writing, but somehow my feed dropped them.  They’re great, though.

I can’t listen to any podcasts about science or about my particular area of work, because they are too much like work and engage my brain in work-like ways, and aren’t relaxing at all even when they are very good.

I would check to see if I missed any, but my iPod is out of batteries for now…

#2 only listens to two podcasts:  Here to Make Friends, a feminist podcast about the Bachelor franchise from huffington post, and Dear Hank and John, a comedy podcast about death from the creators of vlogbrothers.

AND you get a bonus from #2’s DH who listens to a lot of podcasts and like last week answered this very question over email:

FYI, here are the podcasts that I like, not really in any order.

Radiolab  This is the best science-y podcast I’ve heard so far. It’s well produced and has interesting material about a variety of topics. It doesn’t produce new episodes very often though.

DLC aka DownLoadable Content  An easy-listening video gaming podcast. Also has a segment on boardgames that’s short but good. It’s up-beat and isn’t negative or long-winded. Probably my favorite of the gaming podcasts I’ve found because most gaming podcasts get into arguments, go off-track, are more based on cult personalities, or are boring.

Idle Thumbs A bit more like other video gaming podcasts, slightly bigger cast, a bit more focus on cult-of-the-new, etc.

Three Moves Ahead The best podcast I’ve found about strategy video games. The quality/enjoyment is a bit lower, but I like the topics.

Thrilling Adventure Hour Old-timey radio shows. Short episodes that can be hit or miss, but some really funny bits.

Gamers With Jobs,  Another video gaming podcast. Can sometimes have really insightful material, but more often it’s just interesting to hear what other video games people are playing. This one and Idle Thumbs are somewhat interchangeable for me.

StarTalk Neil deGrasse Tyson is really cool.

The D6 Generation The best miniatures/boardgame podcast. I’ve listened to it off-and-on for about a decade.

More Perfect The RadioLab series about the Supreme Court has been incredibly engrossing.

Roguelike Radio Not the best audio/recording, but I find Roguelikes so interesting and there are 125 episodes all about them.

The Secret Cabal Gaming Podcast It’s about boardgames like several other podcasts out there, but with a cast I find quite interesting.

Rocket Talk  I bounce in and out of this one. I like the idea of listening to podcasts about scifi/fantasy books, and narration of short fiction, but I’m not always in the right mood for it.

Oh, and NPR has recordings of their shows…I don’t listen to these by myself, but when we go on car trips I usually grab some for the family….Splendid Table and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me are our most popular.
I’ve listened to Nerdist too and liked some of it but ultimately it’s not what I’m looking for.
I don’t think I’ll keep listening to the Dev Game Club…it’s an interesting concept, but the actual value-per-time is too low for me.

WHEW.  Ok Grumpy Nation, what do you listen to?

Ask the grumpies: How to grow jobs in an area and general entrepreneurship

First Gen American asks:

My latest interest is around how to grow jobs in an area and general entrepreneurship. Anything around that topic would be interesting.

How to identify unmet needs
How to make a business plan
How to decide what to do
How to do the quick back of the envelope calculation on roi. (I’d have to sell how many ice cream cones to just cover rent!?)
How to take a risk without putting it all on the line and if that is even possible. (Many of my customers emptied their retirement savings to start their businesses. It was rough going for a while for many of them and I am only talking to the ones who made it.)
How to determine if a market is saturated. (I.e. Microbreweries)
Where to find businesses for sale.
How to assess the numbers and make sure they are real and not just lipstick on a pig.
Places to find resources for research. Like tax incentives for a region or female owned businesses, grants, etc.

Since my company, one of the major employers, is leaving the area, I also would like to focus on non service type ventures. (I.e. Jobs that don’t rely on the health of the local economy….a product that can be shipped outside of the region.)

Unfortunately this is all completely out of our wheelhouse.  We’re not even sure where we’d start asking to find out the answers to these questions (maybe Paula at Afford Anything, but she’s pretty focused on real estate, still, she might be able to 6 degrees of separation you to a good answer).

Grumpy Nation, any ideas?

Ask the grumpies: If you were a supercommittee with superpowers where would you start reducing the federal government budget?

chacha1 asks

If you were the supercommittee, with actual governmental superpowers, where would you start with reducing the federal government’s budget so that we could actually start reducing the national debt without condemning the nation’s poor to starvation, homelessness, and/or death from preventable illnesses and workplace injuries?

Well, the answer to this would depend a lot on how much power said supercommittee had.  Like, does what we say become law?  Does it have to be voted on?  What happens when people protest?  And so on.

Here I’m going to assume that the committee has the power to force through legislation and people just have to lump it, but doesn’t have supernatural powers to change the hearts and behaviors of people.  We make the laws, they try to get around them.  They can’t vote us out.  In any case, some really easy cuts would be to go with evidence-based policy.

Note:  We may not actually *want* to reduce spending when times are bad because even just throwing money out of a plane over a city is better than reducing spending.  So I’ll assume that in those situations the money saved goes to feed kids, fix infrastructure, fund education, stimulate important research, and otherwise fix the economy in ways that are good for our long-term growth.

So easy things:

  1. Phase out the mortgage benefit– this benefit does not encourage homeownership, only overconsumption of houses
  2. Phase out the SS tax cap
  3. Completely eliminate ridiculous agricultural subsidies that are making us fat.
  4. Examine the corporate tax code– this is hard because there’s a lot to be cut, but there is a real worry that corporations will move things overseas, so it’s not just a slam-dunk.  I’m sure more educated folks than I have better ideas.
  5. Go with the Poterba policy recommendations for stream-lining the tax code so that there are fewer loopholes for extremely high earners (this is essentially expanding the alternative minimum tax system)
  6. Make stock earnings taxed as income (or otherwise make it so the Buffett tax hits people who own American stocks)
  7. Cut inefficient military spending, replace it with efficient military spending or infrastructure spending so as not to hurt communities dependent on the industry (possibly phasing out plants)
  8. I’m not so good at foreign policy, but there’s a lot that can be done to decrease our spending in this arena without jeopardizing our national security.  We need more focus on doing things with coalitions rather than unilaterally.  And we do need to help out more like with the Syrian refugee crisis.
  9. Cut foreign policy aid to Israel and possibly to Egypt.
  10. Cut some Medicare spending– allow Medicare better bargaining power, allow outcomes from experiments to influence policy, cut some doctor reimbursement (but not to Medicaid levels)
  11. Allow federal funds to fund abortions.
  12. Add a public option to health care with an eye towards eventually transitioning to single payer health care (this will actually cost money and we’ll have to pay more taxes but it is good for efficiency).

There’s probably a lot I’m forgetting.  In my work office I have a chart of government spending, but I don’t have one off the top of my head here.