A Look At Luck On St. Patrick’s Day

by WCE

How luck works

I liked this article on luck better than the comments, because the article focuses on a range of views about luck (is luck stable or fleeting?) as well as casual references (medical school admission, hot hands in basketball) that describe the ambiguity with which people refer to luck. In my own life, I’ve felt comfortable taking more risks in the academic realm than in the obstetrics realm, based on my relative success over time in each of those areas. This article also made me think about how a single event (massive layoffs announced during my twin pregnancy vs. uneventful pregnancy with current baby) can shape my emotional outlook for a period of years.

A quote from the article:

For example, a gambler who had just won three times in a row, won 67 per cent of the time on his fourth bet. If he won on his fourth bet, then he cleaned up 72 per cent of the time on the fifth bet. Those who lost their first bets were just 47 per cent likely to win on the second and, if they lost again, only 45 per cent likely to win on the third. Could good luck beget good luck and bad luck really beget bad luck, just as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer?

The team then dug deeper to reveal why these streaks were in fact real: it was the bettors’ own doing. As soon as they realised they were winning, they made safer bets, figuring their streaks could not last forever. In other words, they did not believe themselves to have hot hands that would stay hot. A different impulse drove gamblers who lost. Sure that lady luck was due for a visit, they fell for the gambler’s fallacy and made riskier bets. As a result, the winners kept winning (even if the amounts they won were small) and the losers kept losing. Risky bets are less likely to pay off than safe ones. The gamblers changed their behaviours because of their feelings about streaks, which in turn perpetuated those streaks.

What do you think about luck? How do recent successes or failures influence your willingness to take risks in a particular realm?


117 thoughts on “A Look At Luck On St. Patrick’s Day

  1. I liked this article on luck better than the comments,

    Those are the nastiest bunch of commenters I’ve ever read…and that’s saying something!

  2. I am not as familiar with the concept of “luck” as an inherent one. Interesting. Also interesting that gamblers tend to modify their own behavior while on a hot streak.

    I only play the lottery when the expected return changes – so if the odds are 1 in 270 million but the jackpot is 300+ million. :)

  3. From the article: ‘lucky’ people are adept at creating and noticing chance opportunities (such as meeting an important businessman at a café), listen to their intuition, have positive expectations that create self-fulfilling prophesies, and have a relaxed and resilient attitude about life’s trials.

    I think this sums up my perspective well. And, if you are expecting something to go wrong (bad luck), then you are looking and waiting for it to happen; you will look for the first sign to confirm that belief.

    The other comment I thought was interesting is how your spiritual belief system shapes your views of what is luck.

  4. I agree that positive expectations, optimism and just believing that you are lucky create luck. I’ll have to tuck away that nugget on using pessimism and safer bets while gambling for my next gambling trip.

  5. “I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”
    “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”

  6. Another point in the luck discussion is taking corrective action in the right direction when faced with a reversal.
    Many times people fail to take corrective action because the new path is out of their comfort zone. You could call the new path opportunity.

  7. Another point in the luck discussion is taking corrective action in the right direction when faced with a reversal.

  8. Rhett, c’mon. A workaholic is someone who keeps on working even as the marginal return for unit of effort declines. He finds ways to increase the amount of time working lest he find himself alone and idle or in situations where he has to engage with others outside of work. However, I do agree with the well known statement, luck is the residue of design.

    Says she from the big easy where it was 80 when we landed.

  9. My dad shares my morbid sense of humor, so when my mom had to decide whether to risk surgery for pancreatic cancer, I suggested that “The Gambler” would be appropriate music for the trip home from the university medical center. IAnd I’ll probably play it till I, hopefully, die in my sleep.

  10. I think it was Oprah who said luck is when lots of hard work finally meets the right opportunity.

  11. He finds ways to increase the amount of time working lest he find himself alone and idle or in situations where he has to engage with others outside of work.

    When it’s a negative thing, that is true. When it’s a positive thing, it’s simply taking delight in practical things.

  12. WCE, that’s the best that you can hope for :)

    Meme, I hope there’s a nice breeze or that it cools off for you. Enjoy your stay!

  13. While I generally believe in the intersection of preparation and opportunity quote, There are some times when luck just seems random. I have somehow managed to win door prizes and raffles all through my life, and I’m pretty sure there wasn’t anything I did to prepare for them. What’s funny is that my H is incredibly unlucky at these things. After we got together, I would only win them if I entered a contest without his knowledge. I have never seen him win anything random.

  14. “I only play the lottery when the expected return changes – so if the odds are 1 in 270 million but the jackpot is 300+ million. :)”

    Some friends and I discussed raising $14M to cover all the numbers in a lottery with a 1 in 14M chance of winning, when the jackpot was over $30M.

    We decided against it because of the likelihood of multiple winning tickets.

  15. Finn – Didn’t a hedge fund do that? Also, I see a problem where the costs of the tickets are not tax-deductible (to my knowledge), but the winnings are taxed as regular income.

  16. Medical staff are incredibly superstitious, which I put in the same category as “luck”. I read an interesting paper on this (back in grad school!) regarding interns and comparing them to sailors. Both have very little control over the factors that make their days (and their months and years) good or bad. Believing in superstitions gives you the appearance of control.

    Most ERs (even with electronic boards) won’t ever depart the last patient. They say an empty board invites a lot of new patients in. Also, doctors are often characterized as “black clouds” or “white clouds” — though research on this has suggested that the difference between a black and a white cloud is your ability to deal with unexpected, difficult situation. When someone deals with them well, the incident is soon forgotten. When they throw a temper tantrum about how unfair life is, then everyone remembers how hard they always have to work.

    Of course, people always consider me a white cloud. :)

  17. Ah, but it seems after the Australians started cornering lotteries, the world’s lotteries instituted new rules to limit the bulk purchase of tickets. So much for that idea.

  18. Medical staff are incredibly superstitious,

    You say superstitious, I say being sensible.

  19. Not sure about lotteries, but I believe gambling expenses are deductible up to the amount of winnings.

  20. Rhett – I don’t know.

    To the outsider, is/was e.g. Michael Dell, just to pick someone but other entrepreneurs/inventors also fit, probably looked like a workaholic.

    To him, however, he was following his passion and having success at it. He may be one of those people who has been able to make a living at what he loves so he’s never had to work a day in his life. So he doesn’t/didn’t FEEL like he was working even if/when he’d be spending 18hrs/day in the garage or wherever.

  21. Saac,

    I think he means gambling losses. If you go to a casino ever week and lose $500 at the end of the year you are out 25k. If on new years eve you win $25k you are even and owe no tax.

    Then again, I assume (and Meme can correct me if I’m wrong), being a professional poker player is a legitimate job such that your trips to Vegas would could as legitimate business expenses deductible against your winnings.

  22. I think it is all just random. I have seen enough bad luck in the past few years. I’ll never understand how the universe just seems to almost seek to destroy some people while leaving others unscathed. This is much of the reason why I’m an atheist – can’t get my arms around a higher power that lets Kim Kardashian carry on while little children starve to death.

  23. Hi Meme! Please check for an email from me if you have a chance. I forgot you were traveling.

  24. I agree that we can affect our luck, although some of it is totally random. Our past experiences shape us, and help create a mindset that is more or less likely to lead to positive outcomes.

    “‘Could good luck beget good luck and bad luck really beget bad luck, just as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer”

    That seems like a good comparison. For example, growing up poor can lead a person to be more fearful, possibly causing what appears to be bad luck. It could go the other way, of course. And then there are other factors associated with poverty that lead to negative outcomes.

  25. ““‘Could good luck beget good luck and bad luck really beget bad luck, just as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer””

    But then it’s not really “luck.” It’s the predictable outcome of the person taking certain actions based on a specific mindset.

  26. “But then it’s not really “luck.” It’s the predictable outcome of the person taking certain actions based on a specific mindset.”

    Isn’t that similar to the gamblers on a winning streak example? A casual observer might call it luck, but in fact it could be described as “the predictable outcome of the person taking certain actions based on a specific mindset”. I didn’t read the article, so maybe that’s the main point. (Okay, I feel as if I’m thinking in a circular fashion.)

  27. I just put together that Rep Schock, who is resigning, is the guy with the Downton Abby spectacular office. Aww

  28. CoC – That one surprised me, because the article said that winning made the gambler more cautious. I imagine it depends on what kind of gambling.

    Roulette? Get the fu(k out of here!

    Blackjack and you’re counting? That’s different–if you’re on a winning streak, there’s a statistical reason for that.

  29. Milo & CoC,

    I think someone here mentioned that one of the children went through a beautiful blond ringlet phase and even though they grew out of it they still approached the world as if it was filled with love and good wishes. I think luck is the same, if you hit a streak of it when you’re young it continues, as you approach life as if you’ll be lucky. But, if you hit a patch a bad luck when you’re young it’s very hard to change your mindset.

  30. I used to say I was one of those people who never won anything. That was truly my impression of various door prizes, raffles, etc. In the last several years we’ve won quite a few things, which has made me change my tune. So did I win because I thought of myself as a winner? Did I win before, but not often enough that I perceived it? Or did I just randomly start winning more later in life? I think some luck (making use of the chance meeting, etc.) is influenced heavily by your personality and preparation. Other luck (who you are born to, being a prime example) is just random.

  31. Thanks, SWVA mom!
    I also believe there is some just random luck. That woman and her family who were all separated but all survived the tsunami (made into a movie with Naomi Watts I think) – I appreciated that she said she didn’t do anything special/different to survive, it just happened.

  32. I’ve always considered myself very lucky, and when I ran into a high school friend a few years ago, she mentioned that her mom had wondered aloud one St Patrick’s Day if I am still lucky as an adult. I agree in hindsight that some of it was being prepared when opportunities arose, but other things were just dumb luck. I sat for the CPA exam while I was in grad school (see how I did that?), taking my finals Monday-Tuesday, and sitting for the exam Wed-Friday. There was just too much to study for, so I made a conscious decision to just not study Fiduciary Acctg at all. I ran into a friend in the lobby before the exam, and she said not knowing Fiduciary is what killed her on her prior sitting, so she was trying to discuss it with me. We got in there, and there was only one question on Fiduciary on the whole exam. When she had sat for it, there had been more than a dozen. So I passed, but certainly would not have had there been questions from areas I had blown off. I’m also a very lucky guesser on tests. My kids were frequently the kids chosen to go on stage when we would see performers – I don’t know if that’s luck or something else, but they used to perceive themselves as lucky. I think school struggles cured them of that, though. My husband is a pessimist, so any sense of being lucky they’ve absorbed from me. I do express gratitude for our good fortune very frequently in front of them, pointing out things they may not realize that not every family gets to have. I think it’s important to recognize the random good things that pop up during the day.

  33. Joyce, I agree that it’s important to recognize and teach kids how fortunate they are. I don’t consider myself to be particularly lucky in the “wins a lot of door prizes sense” (there really do seem to be people for whom that happens more often!), but there is no question that I have been very lucky in other things (like being born to very responsible parents, as someone else mentioned). So I try to focus on the fact that I have been very fortunate in the big things, even if I’m not particularly “lucky” with respect to small things. (And I would hate being pulled on stage–that would be unlucky to me! :) )

    We do have a friend who just seems to be preternaturally lucky. For example, one time he and my husband were going on a trip with some other friends. He was running late and everyone was on board the plane, cabin door closed, my husband’s texting him about where he is and he’s still parking. Yet, somehow he ended up making it and they opened up the cabin door for him to get on the plane. We were marveling about how that would never happen for us–the plane would inevitably leave without us. But then again, the fact that these sorts of things tend to work out for him encourages him to keep trying, whereas we might just have concluded there was no chance and not even tried. So how much of it is truly a charmed life versus the feedback loop the article gets at?

  34. June, that loop describes a younger me–I just always figured things would work out. Eventually, I figured out that other people were putting themselves out for me, and I decided to request favors only when truly needed.

  35. Louise- if you ever make it to RI, I can give you a personal tour of some WWII naval outposts. And point your DS to other interesting naval history of RI.

    OT- I know some people who always have everything work out for them. Everything is delivered on silver platters. Always in the right place at the right time. I also know a few people who experience the exact opposite.

    I play life on hard/expert mode. Nothing is easy, and I rarely choose the easy path. But those experiences also showed me how blessed I am. I do consider my job lucky. Yes I earned it but getting it was a bit of luck.

  36. Now for my downer (but I could really use some advice. Or maybe just a pep talk). One of my kids is going through some testing for some scary health stuff (at least to me; not at a level that anyone is seriously worried they are a threat to life, thank god). The same kid has already had some pretty major health issues for such a young age. I am beside myself and really angry. I am having a hard time wrapping my brain around how in the hell this could happen again to this child. I am having a really hard time sleeping. And I am terrified of the big unknown. Any advice?

  37. Anon for this – I’m really sorry to hear this. I can totally understand that you’d be angry, seeing a kid (and your family) go through yet another medical issue. I don’t know what to offer in terms of advice, other than to try to be kind to yourself. Get enough sleep, don’t expect too much of yourself until you have this worked out, etc. Do whatever you find relieves stress the best: movies, books, TV, hot baths, etc. Same for your kid and the rest of your family. Good luck, and know that we are here for you.

  38. Anon, so sorry to hear that. Life and luck certainly aren’t fair! The only two tidbits of advice I have are to look to your child, who was strong enough to get through the first issue, and who will use this strength again, developing it for later life challenges. Also, people generally go anon when they know what they’re saying is unacceptable, because it’s an unwarranted attack on someone else, because it shows a negative side of themselves, or because they don’t want their identity to be known. I don’t see anything to be ashamed of in your response to your child being “targeted” again. I hope you are able to talk openly with people you are close to irl, without embarrassment or worry.

  39. Anon for this,
    I am so sorry that your family is going through this scary and trying time. I know you would take it all on yourself if you could. {hugs}

  40. This is a very interesting topic. In the past we’ve talked about luck here and I’ve always enjoyed people’s thoughts. I think most of luck is based on your upbringing and outlook on life, but some people are just more lucky then others. My oldest has a condition that causes 99% of fetuses with this condition to die in utero. She is the 1% so to speak. Was that luck? It was to me. She wasn’t diagnosed until years later so there was nothing I nor a medical team did. There are other complications that she should have, but doesn’t. As someone up thread mentioned, she is always picked to go up on stage or win random prizes. But also, we know how lucky she is and I think our family’s attitude about life causes us to think we are lucky and good things will happen to us. We have had our struggles with my oldest’s medical situation, but we don’t let it drag everything else down.

  41. Thank you to the above posters.

    S&M – I think I have given out enough info that a lurker following along could figure me out. For whatever reason, I am just not ready to have this out there. Part of me thinks it is my child’s health info, not mine, and that I have a duty to protect it. Or maybe I am just in a denial/coping phase. I have talked to my spouse and one other person and they are helpful.

    Oh Hour – you are spot on. I actually shouted that to my spouse with a few expletives the other day. I am an effing adult and could handle this. Leave my kid alone.

  42. To Anon – I’m sorry to hear this. Yet another battle to fight, but you fought hard in the first round, so you know what you have to do to survive this one. I like Risley’s advice to be kind to yourself. And when things are looking gloom think of Monty Python and always look on the bright side of life.

  43. Anon, I’m glad you’ve been able to reveal your feelings to a couple of people. No need to tell us who you are–I was just worried that you’d want to hide your feelings from those close to you who can comfort you.

  44. Anon — sorry to hear this. As much as I should know better, my middle had fevers on and off for a few weeks and my mind jumps to “immune deficiency” instead of “cold and flu season”. I am usually able to keep the health doomsday thoughts at bay, but it is hard in respect to my kids. Without much more information, I am unsure whether to try to reassure you that it is probably nothing, or to try to give you some tools for coping with what may come. I suspect you may know more about the system than you would like, since this child has had serious previous issues. If I can point you to some resources or give you a more specific perspective off-line, I would be happy to.

  45. At the airport and haven’t had time to read everything, just wanted to say WCE, what an *awesome* article.

    Although I do discount “luck” related to streaks in sports — there are too many minute physical and mental triggers that create a good or bad swing, so I suspect things like hitting streaks are more attributable to the guy just being in the zone, where everything comes together just right for a while. I have golfed long enough to have had some of those magical periods — and for too long to assume that they will stick around more than a few weeks at a time. :-)

  46. Anon – really really sorry to hear that. My only advice is to let yourself be angry and find a safe/supportive place to do so. Don’t feel guilty and force yourself to rationalize or tell yourself that it will all be ok in the end – that’s what you do for Other People when they say stupid crappy stuff like “it’s all for the best.” Just let yourself feel angry and betrayed and terrified and all of that stuff. Because then you’ll have the strength to go put on that brave mom face for your kid.

    This actually hits on the thing that I don’t like about “luck” in the “chance” sense — by definition, it’s arbitrary. “Good things” are not fairly allocated across the population, nor do the bad and the good always even out over time. Basic statistics says that in a giant crowd (like the population of the US), many people will be a little lucky or a little unlucky, but some will be caught in the skinny ends of the bell curve. And I desperately want to believe that there is some order or fundamental fairness in the universe, but luck and math suggest otherwise.

    Now, on a happier note, I am a convert to the “you make your own luck” crew. Rhett’s example of the (literal) golden boy was DS; DD was the one being ignored while people fawned over him. Watching how their different experiences shaped their world views — and their views of themselves in the world — was a powerful lesson in confirmation bias. It’s really helped me challenge my view of my own formative events (eg, like we’ve talked about here before, the realization that I always thought of myself as “poor” thanks to three whole years), and combat my own tendency to spin a single event into a life lesson. Now, at least, when I hit all the red lights, instead of saying “see, I’m screwed,” I say “well, sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug. Today, you’re the bug.”

  47. Anon– No advice, but I join in the refrains to try to take care of what you need to relieve stress right now, and what your kid needs (if your kid is aware of and/or experiencing any stress about the unknown right now). The what-ifs are always huge and looming, and it’s hardest with those we love and want to protect. I’m glad you’ve got your partner and a good ear to listen. Being kind to all of yourselves at having to deal with another giant hurdle is important.

  48. Anon – I am so sorry. I think there is some weird prevailing thing in this country that applauds “strength” and “courage” and those who “never complain”. I think that’s bullshit! This is terrible and you have every right to feel terrible about it and ask why my child? Why my family. It is unfair and you wouldn’t be human if you weren’t angry. So while, I don’t think wallowing is ever helpful, it is important to share the more negative emotions and that is why this can be a very good place for you to do just that. Know that you will be in the thoughts and prayers of so many here and you may vent all you like. Best of luck!

  49. Laura– I hate those people. I suppose it’s a world view that helps some people cope with things, but when bad things have happened in my life and people have told me that it’s all for the best, or all God’s plan, or aren’t I grateful for the incredibly hard won lesson involved, generally I just get angry. Of course I’m glad to learn from the horrible things that have happened rather than be crushed by them, but no one seriously wishes for most of that stuff!

  50. Ada – I sent you a lengthy email. If nothing else, I think I give a pretty good history :).

    Many, many thanks.

  51. CoC. I replied. Next week is fine. This week not at all..

    Anon I understand from experience. There is nothing fair about real life.

  52. saac, look up Thomas Cahill’s _How The Irish Saved Civilization_ at your local library. From a Catholic magazine I read quite a while back, I think that has some information you might appreciate.

  53. Anon, I don’t have much advice but our thoughts are with you and your family.

  54. But then again, the fact that these sorts of things tend to work out for him encourages him to keep trying, whereas we might just have concluded there was no chance and not even tried. So how much of it is truly a charmed life versus the feedback loop the article gets at?

    This. For example, suppose two people happen to get be on a plane flight next to a person who can give them their dream job. The first person is the chatty type and strikes up a conversation, and by the end of the flight they have an interview lined up and end up getting the job. The second person spends the flight reading a book and leaves the flight without knowing the opportunity he missed out on. It seems like the first person was much luckier than the second to end up with the job. But the second person was just as lucky to have the same opportunity, he just didn’t know it and didnt’ take advantage of it.

    I don’t know if these things even out over a lifetime. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. I think people who appear to be lucky are just better at taking advantage of situations.

  55. @Tulip on March 17, 2015 at 6:08 pm — yeah. What you said.

    @DD — I see it as two different versions of luck. I think the pure “chance” kind of thing — who hits the roulette # or wins the door prize — is fundamentally uncontrollable and unknowable. Odds are that for any individual person, it will even out over any person’s lifetime, but that across a larger population, there will be some people who are more or less lucky than others.

    The second version is what I see in my son, in the great marketers in our firm, in the perpetual optimists I know, etc. etc. etc. A big part of their success is having the skills and nature to make the most of their opportunities — so I don’t think that kind of “luck” evens out over time, because it’s how you act and what you do that create those opportunities. But don’t overlook the value of confirmation bias, too — that’s what ensures that those types remember only the times everything worked out just right, and that they forget about the times that didn’t, so every little success just underscores their perception of being blessed, and the failures are forgotten the next day. I tell ya, it makes for a really great world view and happy approach to life. :-)

  56. LfB, my point is that the second version isn’t “luck.” If you are actively doing something, then it is a skill. I agree a lot of it is perception and perspective. As you said in your first version, true “luck” is completely random.

  57. LfB – I have seen the same thing in my DD. As an example, she has no hesitation knocking on doors, asking neighbor kids to come out to play. Often she’ll get “no” from the first few houses but then she’ll get one house with a “yes”. That is enough. Once her little group is seen playing outside, within 15-20 minutes, she has attracted more friends. She is undaunted by the rejections and on the surface it seems that she has the ability to win friends.

  58. Anon – I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with more health issues and will keep your family in my thoughts. The one thing I can recommend is Ambien. It’s amazing how much a good night’s sleep can help you cope with life.

  59. Anon – Sorry you are having to deal with more health issues. Not much advice here, other than to remember to take care of yourself.

  60. Anon — No advice, but I hope your exchange with Ada is fruitful. We’re here for venting anytime.

  61. A friend was bemoaning a point about luck that I see as similar to DD at 9:07 pm. She was complaining about how some people are contacted about positions before they open or positions that are being created. She attributed this to those people’s LUCK. I was just an ear last night, but I think those situations have more to do with networking and reputation. People know you are good at what you do – be it professional or volunteer – and they can work with you, so they are interested in recriuiting you. These are opportunities, but ones that others created for you.

  62. Speaking of gambling and luck, I finally bit the bullet and purchased umbrella liability insurance. But I was able to cover the cost of it by dropping collision and comprehensive coverage on my two older cars, so my overall premium is essentially unchanged.

  63. SM, your point at 3:26 yesterday is interesting–I do tend to be almost overly sensitive about putting people out. So with the example of our friend making that flight, I would be concerned about the fact that my own decisions had made me late and would be delaying a whole plane of people. (And I think his thought would be, well, they’re still stuck at the gate for some reason, might as well try, the worst they can say is no.) Interesting.

  64. Milo – how much coverage and what’s the rate? I pay $160/yr for $2million (I have auto and home from the same company)

  65. I remember I had to lower the deductible on my home coverage (or auto, or both, can’t remember at the moment) in order to qualify for umbrella coverage. IIRC, I had $1000 deductible but had to lower it to $500. Wonder if this is common, and maybe I need to contact Geico or Progressive.

  66. @CoC — your recollection is similar to my own. I think because the umbrella is designed to sit on top of the current insurance coverage, in order to get the umbrella policy, you have to ensure that your current policies meet certain criteria so it all matches up. Although in our case we were ok — IIRC, the auto liability limits that were required were higher than the state-required minimum coverage, but since we had always kept higher liability coverage on our cars, we didn’t have to change that. Can’t recall if it affected the deductibles, but it may have.

    @Milo — good call. Back when I was in law school (see what I did there?), one of my graduating friends strongly recommended getting umbrella coverage as soon as you graduate, because just being a lawyer elevates you as a lawsuit target, and you obviously want to get the coverage before you have any claims filed against you. I sort of laughed at him then and put it off for about a decade. But once you get to a certain asset level and realize how quickly one stupid car crash or one repairman falling off your roof can wipe out everything you worked for, umbrella coverage starts to look like some of the cheapest peace of mind out there.

  67. LfB, if umbrella coverage brings peace of mind when you have assets you don’t want to lose, it’s even better that way when you have nothing. Oddly (I thought) my insurance prohibits owning or keeping trampolines or skateboard ramps.

  68. @Saac — Sorry, not following — how? The reason most people get sued is for a car crash or an injury on their property; both of those are covered by auto and home policies, meaning that you already have someone to manage the case for you and pay the claims. Your only real risk is if the claim exceeds the coverage amounts — but if you don’t have any assets to go after, the guy is generally going to settle for whatever the policy provides. So I just didn’t see much reason for umbrella coverage when I didn’t have much to protect.

    Not surprised they exclude the things that cause the most claims, though!

  69. LfB, if you don’t have any coverage, the encyclopedia seller who steps on your kids skateboard & breaks their back can still she and have wages garnished. At least I think so any way.

  70. Fred, it sounds like you have a better deal than me. This is $450 for a $3 million policy. That is in addition to auto liability that covers up to $1 million (but only $500,000 per person). So I definitely wanted some more than that.

    I suppose I could shop around, but I like USAA.

  71. When I was going through the questions to sign up for it, the lady asked if we were “socially prominent.” I thought “I rarely get more than a dozen likes on Facebook for most of my posts.”

  72. “LfB, if you don’t have any coverage, the encyclopedia seller who steps on your kids skateboard & breaks their back can still she and have wages garnished. At least I think so any way.”

    If you have few assets, it will be difficult for the encyclopedia seller to find a lawyer to sue you.

    I believe that bankruptcy is another way to get out from under a settlement that attaches more than your net worth.

    Yes, I have been sued and am grateful that our insurance coverage was sufficient.

  73. @Saac — those kinds of accidents are already covered under a homeowner’s policy; I assume the same rule applies to renter’s insurance but don’t know for sure. So as long as you have homeowner’s/rental coverage, you should be protected against those claims — the umbrella just provides more $$ in case the lawsuit exceeds the value of your homeowner’s/car insurance policy.

  74. @Milo — Agree that most people would sue the owner. However, per the State Farm renter’s insurance website:

    “Personal Liability

    This coverage provides payment for your legal liability because of bodily injury or property damage caused by an accident

    In addition, it may provide for the payment of your defense against these claims or suits.

    Medical Payments to Others

    This coverage pays medical expenses up to the limits in the policy for people who are on your premises with your permission and are accidentally injured.”

    So liability coverage is at least an option for renter’s insurance.

  75. You beat me to it.

    Just killing time in the urologist’s waiting room. And kind of scared by the permanence of this. This is just a consult, but the forms kind of scared me. “Sterile!”

  76. CoC, do you have one of those label makers?

    We have a Brother P-touch, and it seems like their business model is similar to inkjet printers and razors– the labeler itself isn’t very expensive, but the tapes are (I’ve seen the labeler almost for free in a package with some tapes).

    Does the Dymo have a similar business model?

    The P-touch we have also uses up a couple of inches of tape every time we print a label, adding to the tape cost.

  77. Hah — good luck, Milo. Good on you.

    FWIW, when we were having our last OB consult before DS was born, DH said “and if all goes well, I want to go in the next day to get snipped.” And she said, “oh, no, you can’t do that.” And we thought she meant you need to wait a while, be sure, etc., so DH said, “no, we really mean it, I really want to.” And she said, “no, *I* really mean it — this is a Catholic hospital, you *can’t* do that.” :-) Quickly followed, of course, by “but there are some urologists right across the street. . . .”

  78. I was a little shocked by the form that I need to have my wife sign to consent to the procedure. So much for having control over your own body. But the receptionist assured me that the same Permission is usually requiredfor women who get their tubes tied.

  79. Sounds like the medical version of signing away the spousal 401(k)/pension benefits — guess I’d rather them require it than not, but, yeah, never thought of that aspect before.

  80. The doc and I discussed options if we were to change our minds. He mentioned surgical reversal, but then I asked why they can’t just harvest a few for a one-time shot. He said that’s an option, too. He said reversal is more common because a guy will remarry someone 20 years younger who wants multiple children. But for a “just one more,” my plan might be better.

    I think I just like knowing that the door wouldn’t be 100% closed.

  81. My dh is scheduled for the same thing soon, Milo. So far no forms required my signature, but I’m guessing that some practices do it as a hedge against lawsuits from angry spouses. We felt superstitious about doing it earlier, but our youngest will be 3 soon, and we both are done. I’ll admit I’m not too broken up about his potential prospects if he remarries a younger woman a decade or three down the road!

  82. Finn — I also have a P-touch label maker, which I’ve never thought is very user-friendly. Yes, the labels have too much blank space on the ends, so frugal me tries to make several labels on one piece of tape to save tape. That’s really pretty silly, considering the pennies I save by doing that!

  83. CoC– I also do that. If I need one Finn label, I’ll print Finn Finn Finn ….

    It turns out that it’s more convenient to have a bunch of them sitting in my desk drawer than to pull out the labeler every time I need to put my name on something. so I also have a bunch of DS, DD, and DW labels in my drawer too.

  84. Thanks, Laura, Tulip, and DD. It’s nice to know about others who also are or will be firing blanks.

    Finn – that’s an interesting idea. And it makes me wonder why not just “harvest” and freeze some now, while collection is far easier. I might Google.

  85. No, not until you said that. I was talking about post-procedural harvesting of fresh cells. But this way I could just put some on ice beforehand and pay an annual storage fee. It’s like buying a call option.

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