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why having money helps you not buy

I’ve just realized a corollary to the Sam Vimes theory of economic injustice. I don’t have a catchy name for it yet, but the gist is that having enough money – and being confident that you will have enough in the foreseeable future – saves you from making unnecessary purchases.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say you have three pair of jeans. That seems to you to be about the right number of jeans. And then one day jeans go on sale at a store you sometimes shop at. You feel like you need to buy a pair nownowNOW! Because they’re on sale! And even though all the jeans you have are in perfectly fine shape, some day they will wear out and you will need a new pair, and they may not be on sale then.

Problem is, by the time this happens, you may be a different size. Or you may prefer a different style of jeans, or you may have decided to wear exclusively kilts. Even if none of these things is true, you have had to store the extra pair of jeans all that time, and they’ve been cluttering up your closet. (Also, there’s the fact that you could have been earning interest on the money tied up in those jeans, but I think we can assume the interest on the price of jeans for 6 months or a year is negligible).

If you are in a state of financial comfort, you don’t have to buy the jeans when they’re on sale. So what if they cost $10 more when you’re ready to buy them? You’ll be able to afford it then – and if you don’t buy them or if you decide to buy a different version, then you’ve saved yourself from buying something you can’t use or no longer like.

(This post derives from me trying to persuade myself not to buy a gray sweater to replace the one that has just developed a hole. Not only do I have plenty of sweaters, I actually already have multiple gray sweaters, even though all the others are heavier, lighter, longer or differently styled than this one. If I decide I can no longer live without a dark gray merino pullover, I can do something about it at that time.)

Why, yes, I did just spend (pause to count) four paragraphs explaining that not having enough money leads to making decisions based on anxiety. In other news, water is wet – and falls from the sky in Oregon for 8 months of the year.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.


I heard a story the other day that made me sad. It’s not my story to tell so I won’t give details, but in summary, the guy wanted to buy something and was offered it at a price so low that it could have hurt the naive former owner (FO). He told the FO that he should be charging more, and left his card so the FO could call when he’d thought it over.

The wife of the guy telling the story was mad at him for not buying the thing at the low price, and that’s the part that makes me sad.

There’s a happy ending; FO talked to his wife and called the guy back offering to sell at the price he’d originally quoted. Their children were dead so they had no one to pass the thing on to, and they’d make some money over what they’d originally paid years ago, so they decided they’d rather sell to an honest man than maximize their profit.

It’s a nice story, overall, but I can’t get past the wife’s complaint. It seems to me that if marriage is for anything at all, it’s for supporting each other. Some of that is sharing the chores of running a life and raising children, if you have them; some of it is holding each other up during hard times and cheering each other on during good ones. But surely some of it should be about supporting each other to become better.

Shouldn’t it?

Also, this purchase was not a thing the family really needed. You might have more responsibility to your family than to strangers when all else is equal, but screwing over someone else to get your family a luxury is what I think of as the “I Got Mine” mentality, and I think it’s one of our biggest failings as a society.

Years ago, there was a Hagar the Horrible Sunday comic strip, in which they portrayed the family’s motto as “I Got Mine!” and showed various images of how happy each family member was with their particular “mine” people/stuff. Ever since then I have thought of the sort of thinking you describe as the “I Got Mine” school of thought, and I think it’s downright evil:

  • My family came over here as refugees, but no one else should come – my family wanted to work and make a better life for ourselves and just needed a little help, whereas all these new people just want to suck us all dry.
  • I had my abortion for the right reasons, but all these other women shouldn’t be allowed that option because they just want sex without consequences.
  • I need freedom to celebrate my own religion because everyone hates us, but I want to ban these other religions because they’re full of violent people and anyway they’re wrong.

(Note: I copied my explanation of the “I Got Mine” mentality, and those three examples, from a Ravelry post I wrote on November 2 – before the attacks in Paris.)

I Got Mine is not my family motto, and I hope my own spouse would hold me to a higher standard – or at the very least, help me hold myself to it.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.


Social Media Manifesto

I’m beginning to feel like I need to put a disclaimer on my Facebook page and anywhere else I have a presence online:

“Anything I say here, I mean. I will never pretend to an opinion I don’t hold for the purpose of trolling. However, the converse is not true; just because I don’t talk about it, don’t assume I don’t care. I may just not care to discuss it here.”

I could choose to add more details:

“Just because I don’t talk about the latest atrocity or change my profile pic to the colors of the issue of the day, don’t assume I’m not as gutted as everyone else. I might just care too much to make easy conversation about it.

If I do talk about one big story, don’t assume it means I don’t care about all the other ones. I contain multitudes; I can believe six impossible ideas before breakfast, especially when it turns out they’re neither impossible nor contradictory. I can be against cop killing AND against killing cops. I can want to offer refuge to refugees and also to homeless veterans.

Don’t tell me a one-sentence solution is going to end a complex problem decades or centuries in the making. Please don’t tell me “that’s just what the bad guys want” unless you’ve done actual research. You might be right, you might be wrong, but I’m kind of tired of hearing that statement used to justify whatever you want to do – even if I agree with you.

Oh, and please assume I think your child is adorable and your inspiring story is inspiring whether or not I post “amen”. Amen is just a thing I don’t say much, other than during responsive prayers at my extremely rare visits to shul.

Speaking of which, not only do I not believe that I will be blessed / make a lot of money / see my life change if I respond to your post with an Amen or a declaration of my faith in God, I’m pretty sure that God isn’t deciding who to help on the basis of your Facebook posts. I think you may have confused the Most High with Mark Zuckerburg (who is only a CEO, and anyway, I doubt he’s helping you on the basis of your Facebook posts either).

If you really want to know what I think about almost anything, you could just ask. I’m much happier to engage in respectful conversation on almost any topic than I am to post borrowed aphorisms and pretend they sum up the whole of my complex soul. Or anyone else’s.”

Maybe I will post it, and see what happens.

(ETA: or given that I’ve just added two more short paragraphs, maybe I’ll just hang on to this and tweak it until it’s perfect, which might never happen.)

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.


PSA: shopping technique

This year, the best way to get good prices when shopping online appears to be as follows:

1. Go to website. Brwose around and find what you want. Spend some time looking around.
2. Put everything you might possibly want in the shopping cart – you’ll weed it out later.
3. Leave that website and go do other stuff. If you want, maybe even leave that browser tab open on your computer.
4. Wait a few days and check your email carefully.

Increasingly often, I’m finding that when I’ve done this (usually because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to make that purchase) I’ll get an email offering me 10-20% percent off everything at that website. Obviously they don’t do it every time, and it’s more likely to happen with a place you’ve ordered from before. I’ve never actually done this on purpose, so I haven’t tracked how often it happens, but I’m definitely seeing it more and more often recently.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

digesting the weekend

It turns out red beans and rice is much easier to make than I’d have suggested. If you’re familiar with Cajun cooking, the recipe would be something like “saute your trinity; add red beans (cooked or from a can), ham hock and sliced andouille, add your seasonings plus water to cover, cook 2-3 hours and serve over rice.” (If anyone wants more detail. the actual recipe I used is here.)

That was Sunday afternoon after returning from the lake – we went this weekend because we missed last weekend, when Ted was too tired and busy to go. We almost missed this weekend as well, since he got home from work somewhere around midnight Thursday, but he got out early enough on Friday to take a short nap. We didn’t get any rowing done over the weekend, having completely misread the weather – since SUnday was supposed to be much colder and wetter than Saturday, we figured it would get windier over the course of the day, so when it was already windy in the morning we erged instead. It got calm enough to be nice for rowing by late afternoon, but erg + row in one day is a bit much. We did get a short hike in, where we saw a beaver, plus an enormous great blue heron (herons and egrets aren’t unusual there but this one was huge!). Then later we saw an otter going on our dock and the neighbor’s. but weren’t able to get any closer than seeing it from the house.

I really miss having a job that involves travel (not to mention the 41 vacation days I had in the Netherlands). Aside from a short skiing trip to Jackson, all of this year’s travel has been either for reunions or when Mom visited. It was all nice and all, but that adds up to a whole lot of days sitting at the same work desk, facing the same work, without going anywhere exciting or even just different. Well, OK, there were two business trips, both to Toledo. Apologies to anyone who lives there, but Toledo is a place I never felt the need to visit more than once. I’m feeling unreasonably eager for my four-day holiday break, a week and a half from now, even though we don’t plan to do anything more exciting for it than cook a turkey and uncork some of the good wine.

We will take the cats with us to the lake for Thanksgiving. They don’t much like travel, but they like being there, we think. Also, though they don’t usually seem to mind being left behind, they were unhappy at being left home alone for two nights this time, judging by the poops (three of them!) they left in the entryway. Our vet thinks they go there because the sound of neighbors outside makes them nervous and they’re establishing their territory, but I think these ones were definite protest poops.

(Hence the title of this entry, since I started with food and ended with poop.)

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

pleasant quiet rainy weekend

That was a nice calm weekend. We decided not to go down to the lake for two reasons: Ted was pretty beat – he’s been working 12+ hour days and had to put in some weekend work too; and it was forecasted to be pissing down rain all weekend. This had the side benefit of putting us back on track with our CSA shipment; our CSA delivers to different parts of town on different days, and unfortunately all the drop-off points near us get their deliveries late Friday (they can arrive any time in the afternoon but are only guaranteed to be there by 5). That means we have to wait until we can pick it up before we can leave for the weekend, which is annoying. However we only get shipments every other week – and we like to go to the lake more or less every other week – so getting them on opposite weeks worked better. We’d just gotten off track somewhere around Labor Day.

(We belong to Hood River CSA, which aside from the late-Friday pickup is wonderful. It’s a group of farms rather than a single one, so they offer lots of flexibility. It runs year-round, you can start or stop any time, and you can customize each order, so for instance if you hate squash you don’t have to get any. Though I did miss the acorn squash in this week’s shipment – I’m hoping it’s mush less sweet than the delicata we got a couple weeks ago when we decided to try the winter squash the first time it was ordered this year.)

Anyway, I did want to do something fun at least one day. Ted had to put in some more time at work Saturday, but I had a nice quiet day – baked a cake (to get rid of some of all those apples and pears from the CSA!), and did some errands at Target. On Sunday, though, we agreed to Do Something. The debate was between a visit to OMSI, the Portland science museum, and just staying in bed all day – we used to do that now and then but it’s literally been years since the last time.

OMSI probably would have been more likely if we hadn’t decided to wait until after erging to make the decision :-) We did both need to do longish erg pieces, especially Ted since he’s been getting home too late to work out (and goes to work too early to erg beforehand). So it wasn’t a whole day in bed, just going back to it from late morning on. But it was nice. We like to bring up the most luxurious and decadent snacks on hand, so there was champagne, and grapes, and pretzels (OK, they’re not luxurious or decadent, but as far as I’m concerned they are still the UberSnack). There was reading, and knitting on my part, and snuggling, and so on. Plenty of so on.

I still do want to go to OMSI, but it was a really nice way to spend a very rainy Sunday – and even though I could stand to get out more, I think Ted needed the rest so I feel pretty good about the decision.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

listening to satellites

As an unintended consequence of buying a new car, I have a 6-month trial of Sirius satellite radio at present – that is, we normally get it for the cars, but right now I can also listen online or via app on my phone. What I really like about this is you can select your favorite stations and see the whole list of what’s playing on each of those stations at any given time. Also, there are more stations than you can get over the radio, including a pretty good folk one (the Village).

Also, they seem to have it set up so that, when you swtich to a song in play, you hear it from the beginning, even if it says it’s been on for a few minutes. This is nice, because you don’t miss the song by tuning in late; the downside is that you can’t really switch between songs because each time you do, each song starts over.

What I find interesting is to be able to switch between music I like and see how each affects me. I would not have guessed, for instance, that Neil Young’s You + Me makes me happy in a way that somehow Robert Earl Keen covering 1952 Vincent Black Lightning just doesn’t. That surprised me, given that I like Robert Earl and that Richard Thompson’s original of 1952 Vincent Black Lightning is one of my favorite songs ever by one of my favorite singer/guitarists. I think it comes down to three things: guitar, melody, and personal history.

The first two are linked. I play guitar a little (or more accurately, used to), so I know just enough to appreciate when it’s done well, and also I was a kid in the 1970s so it’s the sound of the music of my childhood. More than a guitarist, though, I’m a singer (at least, if we’re describing people by what they do rather than by what they’re good at – I’m not good at either) and maybe because of that I will almost always prefer a more melodic version of a song to a less melodic one. Maybe “melodic” isn’t the right word; I mean something with a tune that’s identifiable and easy to follow. I also seem to like what Pandora calls “acoustic sonority”, which may not so much be about the actual sound for me as that melody thing, without having so much processing and other stuff going on that it makes it hard to follow the tune. (Then there’s the odd counterexample of Tim McGraw, whose more recent stuff often sounds to me like he’s trying to mash together two conflicting songs; just when you’re nicely settled in with a melody line he goes off and does some other damn thing.)

As for the personal history, I’m definitely likely to prefer the song I cried to that year in college, or the one I fell in love with on my own and then found a reference to in a favorite book, or the one I’ve been singing with for years. Comfort music, I guess.

Between the ridiculous hours he’s been working and the crappy weather predicted this weekend, Ted reckon’s he’s not feeling up to heading out to the lake this weekend, so I guess I’m only listening to satellites this weekend, not looking for them (and even if we do decide to go at the last minutes, the weather will probably preclude all star and satellite-watching anyway).

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

erging and costumery

I’m almost looking forward to this year’s Concept 2 Holiday Challenge (the goal is to do 200,000 meters on the erg from US Thanksgiving Day to Christmas Eve. This year will be my 12th time doing the whole thing. I did my first one in 2001. There was one year when I didn’t do it at all due to injury, and two years when I only did the 100000m version – 2006, when we first moved to the Netherlands (our ergs hadn’t arrived for the first part of it, so we had to erg in the boathouse there) and 2011, when we spent much of December doing a driving trip through France and Spain.

I started doing a marathon training programagain a couple months ago, so I’m about midway through it now, doing around 50 km a week. (That plan uses four week periods – in each period, you ramp up your distance for three weeks, then get one easier week to rest a bit before plunging in again.) I’m already doing enough distance now to finish the Challenge in time; by the time it happens I’ll be up to around 65 km/week so it should be no problem. Once again, I don’t know if I’ll finish the marathon program, since I have no reason to actually do a marathon any time soon, but it is a good way to build up an endurance base.

It’s also a pleasanter way to do the Holiday Challenge; I used to just row 6-7 km a day (whatever the average was that year – it changes since Thanksgiving Day is on a different date every year) for 30 days straight. With the training plan forcing me on, I do more distance each row, but I get two days a week completely off. Of course there’s a down side – just ask me this Saturday when I’m cranking out my 18000 meters! (It will take me about 1.75 hours.)

Amazon’s Matchmaker program has been a godsend for erging, even better than the Librivox recordings I had been listening to. A lot of them are only a couple dollars more to buy if you already have the e-book – and since I reread everything I like at all I do want the e-book version. Right now I’m almost done with the latest October Daye book; I’ve concluded that those, the Kate Daniels books and the Chronicles of St. Mary’s are really ideal erging books, because no matter how hard the workout is, at least it’s usually easier than whatever the heroine of the book is going through. (Yesterday, I was cranking out 1km pieces, while Toby was holding her arm in the middle of an animated rosebush that was using its thorns to sample her blood.)

Meanwhile, getting ready for Halloween. I like to do a more subtle, office-appropriate costume at work. This year I wanted to be Middle-Aged!Hermione; according to JKR she went to work in the Dept of Magical Law Enforcement, so she’d be wearing robes to work at the Ministry, but I figure she’d have to liase with Muggles occasionally and would dress accordingly. I will wear a loose hip-length black seater, with a white collared shirt under it (sleeveless, so I don’t get lumps in the sweater sleeves and a Gryffindor scarf. unfortunately I can’t find the Gryffindor scarf I knitted years ago – I suspect I gave it away because I never wore it. I couldn’t find a cheap tie, so I bought a knit infinity scarf in Gryffindor House colors, which is probably close to what a professional adult Hermione would wear anyway. I also bought some cheap Peanuts leggings and t-shirt at Kohl’s, after I’d given up on the tie and before I decided to buy the scarf at Amazon, but even with a skirt over the tights that seems a bit less work-proper for me. I have always loved Peanuts, though, and can wear those items as around-the-house jammies. (The scarf was $20, which is why I was hesitating, but it seems to be knitted out of t-shirt material so hopefully I will get some wear out of it when I want an accent and it’s too warm for a knitted scarf or shawl.)

I am pleased with myself for remembering to bring not only the white shirt but also my hairbrush back last time we went to the lake house – using a brush on my hair will give me the required Hermione frizz. (Normally I just gfinger-comb my hair to get tangles out without ending up with a Rosanne Rosannadanna bush.) Also I have a pretty wooden hairstick with a bit of inlay on one end; I figure I can carry that as a wand (and also use it on my hair if all that frizz gets too annoying). It’s maybe 7″ long, so smallish but not completely out of range from what the books describe – but I figure the wizards might follow Muggle lead in miniaturizing their tech.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

flexibility in clothing

I’ve written about this before as recently as June, but I just wrote a whole screed as part of an online discussion and realized it was basically a blog entry. A bunch of women were bemoaning how uncomfortable women’s clothing is than men’s , and that hasn’t been my experience at all.

I have found that the flip side of the expectations for women’s clothing means that I have more choices available than my make cow-orkers. I can wear what they wear; they can’t get away with a lot of what I wear. Some of it is luck; I’m not skinny, but am small enough to be able to buy clothing that’s on the loose size – jeans and trousers excepted due to rower thighs and current styles. I’m small-busted enough to be comfortable in less-constructed bras, and my feet are a size 8, which is dead center of the US women’s size range so all styles come in my size. I’ve worked in offices ranging from casual to business casual (the main difference between those, in my experience, is how OK they are with jeans). I have had friends who worked on offices where they were required to wear high heels – not often, but a few – and I know a lot of women who need underwire bras because wearing anything less constructed is even more uncomfortable.

My nearest male coworker is wearing a polo shirt and jeans; I could wear that (except that I’d freeze to death and that I don’t find polo’s terribly flattering on me – they are on some women). I can’t even claim that the freezing issue is gender based, in this case – it often is, but not here, judging by the number of women working near me in short sleeves or with skirts and bare legs.

Much of the clothing I wear most frequently is knitted, not woven (though all of my jeans and trousers and most of my skirts are woven). As mentioned above, I do have a fit issue with jeans; for a while now the trend toward skinny jeans has affected even supposedly-relaxed fir jeans and trousers. I don’t think tight jeans look professional on me, but I can’t find ones that are looser. I can at least find comfortable ones, with enough spandex to be forgiving, and low-enough waists that they’re not trying to cut me in half.

Today I am wearing a black bralette, a black tank top, merino-blend black leggings, and hand-knit socks. Topping that to make it office-professional, I have my Thera (designed by a Waffle!) and an Ibex skirt I originally bought from a rowing company that was selling them as a comfy cover-up over a rowing uni. (I have gotten so much use out of this skirt that if they still make them I’d buy one in every color.) Also, boots that really were made to walk in. I could go to a yoga class right now and all I’d have to take off would be a bit of jewelry. From the inside, it feels pretty much like pajamas, and I feel a bit sorry for the guy in the next desk who can’t wear this stuff.

To be fair, though, I did dress extra comfortably on purpose today; yesterday was one of the days when I really felt restricted by my clothing. Ironically, I was wearing men’s trousers; unusually for me, I tucked in my shirt and wore a tight belt, which had the effect of pulling the trousers upward so they were slightly binding at the crotch. (An effect of wearing pants designed for a male on a female body – they’re supposed to sit below the waist, and are actually a little higher on me than they’re meant to be, but I’d belted then tightly enough to bring them up to my natural waist.) I had a turtleneck collar ringing my neck, I had my hair pinned up tightly (which I also rarely do) and my bra had uncomfortable lumps in the seams. My shoes were comfortable, but nothing else was. I had big pockets, but they didn’t make up for the discomfort. I won’t be doing that again soon, but I’m glad I don’t have to.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.