Open thread

by Grace aka costofcollege

Today we have an open thread.  Here’s a topic to get us started.

Opinion: Workers will simply try to survive, rather than prosper, as tech takes over the economy

Refute his argument, if you can.  The author touches on topics previously discussed here, like the possibility of a growing class of “unemployables”.  He focuses on the role of the technology sector.

A common assumption was that new jobs in new industries would take up displaced workers. Unfortunately, the reality has been different.

The number of people employed in technology has remained modest, around 5% to 6% of the workforce. By one estimate, only 0.5% of the U.S. labor force is employed in industries that did not exist in 2000. In Silicon Valley, only 1.8% of workers are employed in new industries.

One reason is that many new industries are not labor-intensive, and when they are, the tasks are outsourced to the cheapest supplier in the world. A leading technology company like Google GOOG, -0.02% has only around 60,000 employees worldwide.



255 thoughts on “Open thread

  1. “A common assumption was that new jobs in new industries would take up displaced workers. Unfortunately, the reality has been different.”

    Really? How many occupational therapists were there 20 years ago? And now?

  2. Why did you pick occupational therapists? They’ve been around for a long time.

  3. Really? How many occupational therapists were there 20 years ago? And now?

    That’s 4 years of college and a 2-3 year masters program.

    a small elite, say, 5%, enjoy the significant wealth and control of much of its resources. They employ another stratum of people, say, 20%, to administer their affairs as well as control the precariat, 75% of the population.

    Occupational therapists will be in the 20%.

    We’re talking here about the 75%.

  4. “We’re talking here about the 75%.”

    para-educators. that’s another job that didn’t exist (or, like occupational therapist) nowhere near the same #’s that it exists now.

    Kent School District Paraeducator – Hourly $15.75/hr
    Montgomery County Public Schools (Maryland) Paraeducator – Hourly $19.17/hr
    ABC Unified School District Paraeducator – Hourly $13.48/hr
    Lawrence Public School USD 497 Paraeducator – Hourly $9.82/hr

  5. As a side note – I must vent here about the complete and utter hassle (with incompetence thrown in, of course) we have had in the past few months with Bank of America, Capital One, and Key Bank. We used to have all our accounts with BoA. Then for no reason at all, they closed all of DH’s business accounts (4), with only 30 days’ notice, plus by the time we got the notice it was down to about 22 days. We had to set up new business accounts at Capital One, but by the time those were set up, BoA had locked the (STILL OPEN) business accounts and we couldn’t transfer the money out. All we could do was wait the remaining 10 days until they issued a cashier’s check. That check was too large to deposit through Capital One’s app so now we have to do a mail-in deposit. Plus, Capital One won’t let you transfer money between your business accounts – you have to write checks from one account to the other or transfer it OUT to an external account and then back IN to a different Capital One account.

    Then our mortgage company was bought by Key Bank and when we tried to set up the automatic payment, it was too large to go through a regular transfer process (they have a limit of $2000!) so I had to spend 2.5 hours on the phone with them to find that out and to figure out how else we can get our mortgage payment to pull automatically just like we used to (it turns out we have to mail in a form). ARGH.

  6. para-educators

    And that will be enough to replace America’s 3.5 million truck drivers?

    A tractor trailer full of beer drove itself down Colorado’s I-25 last week with nobody behind the wheel. Uber Technologies Inc. and Anheuser-Busch InBev NV teamed up on the delivery, which they said is the first time a self-driving truck had been used to make a commercial shipment.

  7. I have read several articles along the lines of this one recently. It does make me very concerned about the hollowing out of the middle class. If good core jobs are replaced by automation and workers are left to find work in service positions, incomes are really going to drop and it will have repercussions throughout the economy. I saw another article just a couple weeks ago about how automation will replace well over 1 million truckers in coming years.

  8. My dad always said (though not quite this civilly) that you have two resources with which to earn money – your brain and your body. This was way before computers, but he discouraged the body-centric jobs (like auto line workers) because you have fewer years you can perform them. He encouraged brain-centric jobs because you can do them longer and get better pay when you are good at it or find a niche.

    I think his advice was missing that technology is taking over a lot of the body-centric jobs that were once paid well, leaving us with more service type jobs that are less well paid. I don’t think there was an expectation that the “new” jobs people would transition to would have the same characteristics. That makes it hard for those in the workforce who have to make a transition, but should be more manageable for those coming through the education pipeline.

    I think Milo was pointing out….it is not that NEW industries have been created, but existing industries are expanding. While PT/OT have been around as a profession for a long time, the current growth projections are 27-34% (BLS Occupational Outlook) which is faster than average.

  9. I’ll throw out a question. We’ve been using an accountant for over 15 years to do our taxes. DW had started going to her before we got married. We like her personally, and she does a very good job. But over the last 5 years or so as her business has grown, she’s really lost the personal touch and her fee has increased. The probable final straw is she sent out her annual email offering to review our paystubs and see what our tax return will look like. It took a month for her to respond after I sent them, and she gave the estimate and offered to set up a call to discuss it. I replied I would like to do a call, and that was a week ago and she hasn’t responded to set it up.

    I talked to DW about doing it ourselves with turbotax, but she is concerned that we might miss deductions that an accountant wouldn’t. Those of you who use it, how thorough is it? Our taxes are pretty straightforward – just basic deductions like mortgage, charity, student loan interest, IRAs, medical/HSA, etc. No self-employment or anything like that.

  10. “And that will be enough to replace America’s 3.5 million truck drivers?”

    The constant, underlying fault with all the doom-and-gloom predictions is the assumption that demand will remain constant. That has never yet been true throughout history, and we’ve suffered through far more significant gains in productivity than this. Demand simply increases.

    I’m either one of the 20%, or perhaps straddling the lower end of the 5%, but when all the goods that are currently delivered by a human truck driver drop in price as a result of being delivered by an automated truck, I may be convinced to put in a heated pool that I otherwise never would.

  11. On the topic of Banking. We have an unused credit card at Wells Fargo – originally set up to take advantage of a better rate on Furnace/AC, and then we paid off the next month.. It is the only account we have at Wells. This account sits untouched, and don’t even have a login because we never use it. Last week we got a letter from them letting us know that we elected to enroll is some sort of program, and they (Wells) will graciously charge us $22 from this account each month. DH called Wells, which dropped his call twice, getting to a human (30 minutes in). Wells said that we enrolled in the program online (how? We never set up online access). Then changed their answer and said that they accidentally sent these letters to a number of customers and to ignore. DH was so annoyed, and figures it might have something to do with their phony account program, that we have since closed this account. So annoying.

  12. That’s what I figured Milo, but DW tends to worry about everything.

    Lemon, it sure sounds like it was related to the phony accounts.

  13. @DD – I think you are fine with Turbo Tax. I was fine with it even when we were paying Nanny taxes. You probably don’t even need the Premier edition with extra bells & whistles unless you have significant or complicated taxable investments.

    I tend to agree with Milo on the aggregate. But I think the pain will be felt in certain geographic locations more than others, just like with changes in the past. (e.g., When a plant closes in a small town & moves to Mexico. Detroit. etc)

  14. DD – And you’re far smarter than I am re: tech and software, so if I’m saying TT is fine…

    Lemon – This is certainly not an “I told you so,” but only because I get so annoyed by sh1t like that, I never deviate from our boring-but-honest credit union, and I won’t chase free miles, 0% APRs, or do any “travel hacking” like many of the personal finance bloggers.

  15. @Lemon – That sounds very fishy and definitely linked somehow to the fraud situation in the news.

  16. The constant, underlying fault with all the doom-and-gloom predictions is the assumption that demand will remain constant.

    If you’re right – why have wages been stagnant for 40 years?

  17. Milo – I totally agree. We only opened it because of the savings (maybe $500 less than if we paid cash and zero interest), fully understanding that the sales guy was getting a nice kickback from Wells to push their credit card. So we paid it off the next month and just kept it open. Lesson learned. My DH’s only credit card is through his credit union that he opened in college – boring-but-honest.

  18. “If you’re right – why have wages been stagnant for 40 years?”

    1) whose wages?

    2) employers’ contributions to healthcare costs have risen exponentially, but I don’t believe they’re included in those analyses. My employer is probably paying me more than $15k extra annually at this point to give us health coverage. I thank God that DW gets no health benefits whatsoever from her job, because her pay is commensurately higher, whereas having two sets of health insurance would be a total waste.

  19. My employer is probably paying me more than $15k extra annually at this point to give us health coverag

    In 1975 your job would have likely included a pension.

  20. Lemon is reminding me to close out a few of those cards we have lying around… One may be through Wells Fargo (though we haven’t seen anything from them, and our credit reports look fine…).

    I get to deal with my company today… They guy I have to email (1) outed my pregnancy to HR without my permission and (2) is making it nearly impossible for me to travel because of my pregnancy. My pregnancy is very typical this time around (I’m boring – which is awesome and anxiety inducing at the same time), so travel in December is A-OK (just got approval from my doc). The travel is not a willy-nilly thing. I’m giving an invited talk plus representing my branch of the company at a Director’s meeting. Lord give me strength.

  21. “In 1975 your job would have likely included a pension.”

    Yes, but it wouldn’t have had 10% 401(k) matching.

  22. Yes, but it wouldn’t have had 10% 401(k) matching.

    Why did they change from a cheaper pension system to more expensive 401k system. Or, did they switch from pensions to 401k because it was cheaper?

  23. We have had the same tax concerns. My goal was to have the accountant do the taxes and then do them myself for the same year to see if there was any benefit as our tax situation had become less complicated. Then I bailed on that because the past two years we had signficant changes and now am having to deal with their taxes after dad’s death (2015) and mom’s death (2016). Since the same accountant handles it all, we are getting a bundled deal of which my taxes are almost free.

    Attorney compliaint – My parents had/have an attorney who drew up their trust, including wills, etc. I am getting very slow response from them on closing out my parents affairs. Given the fairly complicated way it was set up (prior to the almost complete elimination of estate tax), I don’t think it benefits me cost wise to try to get a different attorney to step in at this point. Any tips for lighting the fire under them? They don’t respond much to email and I don’t want them to nickle and dime me on costs to return my calls just to say its not done yet.

  24. Lemon – I would encourage you to contact one of your senators’ offices and provide the details. I don’t think the Senate Finance Committee has completed its hearings related to Wells Fargo, and I think it’s relevant that this is still going on. I know that’s a pain for you, though.

    CofC, I submitted a topic over the weekend.

    I still can’t submit a comment with my name in the comment box – just disappears when I do. Any chance I somehow got blocked?


  25. Most benefit packages (health, dental, paid time off, retirement funds etc) cost between 25 – 30 percent of an employee’s salary. For government workers this can be as high as 35 percent. Like Milo said, I’m not sure if these ever get figured into the analysis of pay.

  26. Rhett – 401(k)s are “cheaper” for employers, but I believe that at least some of that savings comes from simply not having the future obligation on the books.

    DW’s and my grandfathers had pensions (well, three of the four), but we never got the sense that they were quite as generous as people today wistfully imagine they were.

  27. Rhode I am so angry on your behalf! That is do annoying!

    On pensions, my brother told me that between him and his wife, their pensions should be $8-9k per month. I almost sobbed with envy.

  28. update on me:

    remember the old car we fixed after much debate (the cost to fix was almost the value of the car)

    I wrecked the car earlier in the month and it is totaled, that is pretty much sums up my life right now :)

    looks like we are car shopping now

  29. Lark, I saw that your comments were being flagged as spam for some reason. I unflagged them, so please try again and let me know if your comments don’t come through.

  30. Moxie – thank you. I’m somewhere near the 6 month mark, and due in Feb (again!). This pregnancy has been typical (which is scary because I have no basis for this, I’m used to high risk). Baby Rhode is a toddler – full on energy, temper (ish), and independence. It’s a tiring time of life! But it’s fun because he’s learning so much now. Baby Rhode and Baby Rhode #2 are looking to be 24-25 months apart.

    Milo – my mom has a pension. And additional retirement assets. Her pension took a giant nose-dive in the recession because the company didn’t manage it properly. I think the pension covers half of her expenses, though I’m not sure.

  31. Wine – I’m so sorry!!! I hope you are OK! I hate when life gets like that. {{Hugs}} coming your way.

  32. “their pensions should be $8-9k per month. I almost sobbed with envy.”

    You could annuitize $1,700,000 at 6% and get the same $8500 per month.

    That means each spouse needs to contribute $850,000.

    To get $850,000, a worker needs to save $9,000 annually for 30 years, or only $4,000 annually for 40 years, and average a 7% return.

    $9,000 annually is $750 per month.

    That’s 12% of a $75,000 annual income, or if you have an employer with 6% matching, you just need to save 6%.

    $4,000 annually (assuming you work from 22 to 62) is only $333 per month. On a $75,000 annual income, that’s only putting 5.3% into your 401(k), or 2.6% from you, 2.6% matching.

    I’m guessing that, compared to your brother and his wife, you and your DH already have a pay premium greater than those monthly contribution amounts.

  33. On pensions, my brother told me that between him and his wife, their pensions should be $8-9k per month. I almost sobbed with envy.

    If you converted your retirement savings into a single premium fixed annuity at retirement how much would it pay per month?

  34. thanks Rhode, I am fine, the air bag did not come out. I was on I-65 just a few miles from the in-laws house and rear ended a car. we weren’t going fast. traffic was a mess, and the car in front of me slammed on their brakes. didn’t look like it did anything to their car (SUV) but crunched up the front of mine, and like I said, it was an old car, so this did it in. Had a feeling it would, but just found out today.

    Oh and this happened the day I was stopping at home to grab my stuff and kiss my boys before heading to Nashville for the night for work.

  35. “Yes, but it wouldn’t have had 10% 401(k) matching.”

    I’ve never seen it that high. I’d be curious what the average is. I’d guess it is about 4-5%, but I’d be happy to be proven wrong and have that knowledge for my next job search!

  36. “They guy I have to email (1) outed my pregnancy to HR without my permission”

    I would be livid

  37. “Oh and this happened the day I was stopping at home to grab my stuff and kiss my boys before heading to Nashville for the night for work.”

    There’s a country song in here.

    What are you looking to get?

  38. Don’t forget that with pensions, the employee typically has a required contribution as well. DH’s government job has a 8.5% required contribution to the pension. Not sure he wouldn’t come out ahead putting in 8.5% for 30-35 years in a 401(k) and getting a match with a private employer vs. getting a funded pension.

  39. Milo LOL

    something used and cheap

    I’ll have to find the thread where you guys had posted stuff before when thinking about replacing it

  40. “I’ve never seen it that high (10%). I’d be curious what the average is. I’d guess it is about 4-5%, but I’d be happy to be proven wrong and have that knowledge for my next job search!”

    For the largest employer in our area the employer contribution (not match, outright contribution) is 6.2% of the first ~$55k/yr and 10.5% on everything above that per their website. So someone making $100k there would get a little more than 8% from the employer each year, equal to about 1 month’s pay.

    CVS matches 1:1 up to 5%.

  41. MBT – I have a friend from college who went the same career path as me. He did not get along well at all with his CO (so I heard) and, therefore, got some terrible FITREPs and was not selected to be a department head.

    But he didn’t get out. He just took whatever desk jobs they were willing to give him, and he’s still plugging away. Also, his wife is an officer in a health care role. No deployments, no underway time for either of them. They’ve been living in the Finn/HM paradise for years. Once they hit 20 years, they’ll be eligible for full retirement at the age of 42 having contributed nothing. If they retire as O-5s at 20 years, that’s $51,000 annually for each of them, or $102,000. If they can hang on for 25 years, it will be $66,500 each, or $133k total.

    I should have done that. The secret is to be just bad enough that they never want to send you out to sea again, and then just toe the line.

  42. well, went to that thread but of course those craigslist postings are gone duh, stuff for under 5K

  43. I am projected to get a big $1K per month from my state pension that i spent 11 years working for and contributing about 6% of my salary. Even the 30 year employees only get half of their highest salaries but I guess you get health insurance which is why it’s appealing. I’ve thought about taking a third of it and investing it because it really doesn’t change your monthly payment all that much.

  44. oh, crap, those are rebuilt titles, too

    If it’s too good to be true…

    That said, I have a friend who ended up needing a car back during the financial crisis and opted for one with a salvage title. I think it’s 6 of 1 half dozen of another. For $7k you’re either going to get a salvage title with 80k miles or a clean title and 160k. I bet the risk of problems is about the same.

  45. Milo,

    Is the clean title note on craig’s list on the honor system? If so you’d also want to pull the carfax on these to see if in fact the title is clean.

  46. I agree that you should report the Wells thing if you can find the right state office, or local congress person. This still shouldn’t be going on, and they are in a lot of hot water.

  47. on happy news, my grandma will be 101 next week, she was featured on the front page of the local paper recently going to vote early (for Clinton!!) Women could not vote when she was born.

  48. I sold a toddler bed on Craigslist last night. I listed it for $30 with bedding included. It was a much better deal than all the other toddler beds listed that were asking $100, $150. Craziness.

    And nobody emailed me for days. I put it on Facebook for free, just because I didn’t feel like driving it to Goodwill. Then yesterday morning I got an email from someone offering $20, since they didn’t need the bedding, and I said sure.

    He picked it up last night, and I just gave him the bedding with it. He’s a civilian DoD employee, and we had a nice chat. His 15-month-old has been sleeping in their bed for 5 months, and he said to me “this has got to STOP. We’re hoping getting her her own bed will help.” I suggested trying her own bed in their room first, and he acted like this was the most brilliant idea he’d ever heard.

  49. DH’s university contributes 10% to the 403(b) plan, with another mandatory 5% contribution from employees. It’s much more generous than his previous state university employer.

  50. The front page banner teaser in the WSJ today screamed “Teens Need A Room of Their Own” and my automatic response was “No They Don’t.” Turns out that the article is about “Teen Caves,” not bedrooms, and was written by the reporter whose articles I routinely skip. So I skipped it. But really, BIMD we sent the kids downstairs to watch TV and thought no more about it.

  51. That’s why this used one is such a good deal.

    If it was 2 or 3k cheaper I’d agree.

    At 87k miles assuming a Hyundia can make it to 200k the car has consumed 43.5% of it’s useful life. So, comparing useful life apples to useful life apples 16k new means, just adjusting for miles, we’re at 9k. Assuming it needs new brakes, tires and shocks we’re even at 7k. It’s not really a deal.

  52. “Middle school is a good time to set aside a teen hangout space, says Amy Behrens, a Newton, Mass., parenting coach.”

    …speaking of jobs that didn’t exist before.

  53. “Demand simply increases.”

    Basically with Milo on this. I think it’s easy to get doom-and-gloom when “stuff we know and assume will always be there” goes away, because we don’t have any visibility into “stuff that hasn’t happened yet but that we’ll totally take for granted in 20 years.” Nature, and the creativity of the human race, both abhor a vacuum. People have always found ways to get by, and they always will. Is it going to be simple and clean? Oh, heck no — the more people feel disenfranchised by the existing system, the higher the risk of major political upheaval (witness Trump/Sanders, Marxist theory, etc.).

    I wonder/suspect if we may be heading back toward a time of small businesses. At the same time tech is seriously eroding many of the jobs that we used to build a MC, it is also making it more and more feasible to run your own business. E.g., even Perry Mason required Della Street to make his travel reservations, track his time and send his bills, run his office, make copies (and later on send faxes) — not to mention couriers to do court filings, accountants to do taxes, etc. etc. etc. Now we have QuickBooks and TurboTax and electronic filings and Word/Adobe for files and computer research, etc. etc. etc.

    So I suspect what you are going to see is more reward for those with entreprenurial skills and less for those who are good at filling out TPS forms. What is interesting to me is that that particular skill set does not depend on intelligence or schooling — the best cleaning service I ever had, for ex., was a woman who had set up her own business with her sister. You see people doing that now at all levels of education, intellect, and advantages. Which, of course, is scary for those of us who are currently relatively successful/safe, because it means we and our kids are not really as safe as we’d like to think, and the idea of the security of working for a particular for 30 or 40 years gets smaller and smaller in the rear-view window.

    Of course, none of this affects the reality that only 50% of the populace can be in the top half. But honestly, that’s where we are now anyway — what we’re talking about it just possibly changing the composition of who’s in which half.

  54. “Middle school is a good time to set aside a teen hangout space, says Amy Behrens, a Newton, Mass., parenting coach.”

    Edited for accuracy:

    “Middle school is a good time to set aside a teen hangout space as long as it is in the middle of a highly-visible area or equipped with full-scale, round-the-clock surveillance cameras, says Amy Behrens, a Newton, Mass., parenting coach.”

    Our house has two “parlors” on either side of the front hall — I’d rather have one big family room, but somehow that wasn’t a think in 18-whatever. So one is the main family room, and the other has always been the kid room. Now that DD is in HS, it has become the teen hangout, and turns out that design is now the best. thing. ever: we have French doors on every side, so they feel like they have their own space, but they never stray too far into trouble (yet), because anyone can walk by at any time.

    And on a related tangent, have I mentioned lately how happy I am that our houses is closest to the pizza place that everyone stops at after school? I *love* being the house where all the kids come to hang out. Happy, happy, happy.

    Congrates Wine — that’s awesome about your grandma!

  55. “The couple has given up weekend date nights for years so they can be present to supervise their teens”

    Good grief. Some will say that you can’t leave younger kids with a 14-year-old babysitter because she’s not mature enough. Now you can’t even leave teens at home to go out to dinner and a movie because they need to be supervised. And they wonder why fewer people even want to have kids these days.

    I have a high school friend who regularly contributes to a fairly prestigious, mainstream news organization. But she always seems to come up with her story ideas first, and then posts on Facebook looking for people to interview who are willing to tell her about it (confirm her initial hypothesis).

    I imagine it’s similar for this author, and that’s how you end up writing what’s purporting to be a nationally representative news item talking about parenting coaches in Newton giving specific renovation recommendations (do NOT add sound insulation???) for very limited circumstances. You can find an expert who will agree with anything in exchange for having her advice published.

  56. We simultaneously like to hold the ideas “we spend too much on health care!” and “health care is such a great field to get into”.

    In the US, we spend a ridiculous portion of our income on health care (whether it is personal income, government redistribution, benefits). However, we have more good jobs in health care because of this. We cannot decrease the amount we spend on care (or even decrease the growth) without reducing the number of good and great jobs out there.

    Yesterday a primary care doc sent us an issue (after a definitive test had been performed) that needed a 10 minute conversation and a prescription. The other doc I was working with was livid. “He could do this himself! He is dumping on us!!”. However, it was a straightforward patient that took very little of my mental energy, and was an all-around pleasant interaction. If we got rid of all the people who didn’t actually need to see us, we could save billions in health care costs. However, a reduction of 1/2 the ER visits, probably means a reduction of 1/2 the ER staff – from tote baggy doctors/PAs, to UMC social workers and nurses, to stable blue-collar techs, secretaries, and clerks.

  57. I guess nothing is off-topic on this thread, but does anyone know where I can get an extremely ballpark estimate of auto insurance costs, without having to submit personal information to an insurer? I’m trying to help a friend of a friend, who is a 42 year old African woman in town for just one year to work at the University. She has a driver’s license from her country, but would have to pay for some driving lessons here in order to pass the test, and has never seen snow or ice on the road, much less driven on either, so those lessons might have to extend into the winter. Her apartment is under a mile from campus but she has some health issues and walking (especially on said ice and snow) is not going to happen. She would also have to acquire a car, which is another hurdle.

    My seat of the pants opinion was that Uber, which would cost $4-5 per ride, makes way more sense for her than buying a used car, paying for driving lessons, taking the test probably more than once, scraping ice and snow off the car every morning during the winter, and THEN having to walk from the remote campus lots to her office over the ice and snow that she just successfully drove through. My guess was that she would pay around $100 per month for auto insurance, but my local State Farm office wouldn’t even give me a range without getting specific personal information from her. Very annoying, but also can’t find an online source that will say, for a 42 year old female with clean driving record who will be driving about 30 miles a week, you can expect to pay x in your state.

  58. it is very interesting to me how out of my grandma’s 3 living grown children (one passed away a few years ago), 2 are very liberal and then there is my Mom LOL – super conservative

  59. and I don’t think the article mentions it, but grandma’s husband was a southern baptist preacher

  60. “We simultaneously like to hold the ideas “we spend too much on health care!” and “health care is such a great field to get into”. ”

    Yeah? So what? Both are correct.

    If I could get in my pocket half the money that my employer and I are paying for our health insurance, I could finance this at 2% over 20 years

    And then buy a new one when I’m ready to retire.

    Instead of paying for so many ER docs, nurses, and techs, I could pay the same people to work as marine architects, production supervisors, and techs.

  61. yay Wine! That is awesome.

    I should reach out to Amy Klobuchar (one of the few Senators who seems to get things done). Of course I shredded the letter, but DH can probably remember the details.

  62. Scarlett,

    I do agree that uber might be better. Is there Zipcar near campus? That would be good for trips further afield. With regular renting an option for weekend trips etc.

    Can I join if I have a driver’s license from outside the US or Canada?

    Thousands of foreign drivers use Zipcar. We accept drivers from every country. You will simply need to complete a form attesting to your driving history and submit it to us with some additional documentation. You can find the details here: How to submit a foreign driver’s license.

  63. Scarlett,
    If reliable Uber/other transport is available whenever she needs it, I’d go with that option…even if she needs 5 rides every day @ $5, that’s ~$9k. Getting a reliable car, insurance, driving lessons, license (can she go direct to license, or is there a permit period involved, too?), gas will probably not be much cheaper and a whole lot more PITA than the Uber option, especially if regular ride times can be arranged.

  64. have the frugalwoods been up to anything interesting lately?

    Milo, what day of the week do you post your duggar recaps?

    have I missed any big news the last couple months on the TB?

  65. Wine, that is very cool. My grandma is a few years younger, but I am not sure if she will make it to vote this year. I know she would be amused by this if she fully understood that a women could become the President.

    I think it is just as interesting that my daughter and her friends don’t seem to realize that a woman as President is a big deal. I am happy that they seem to be growing up in a different world with many more opportunities for women.

  66. “you can read all about how one big living room was not a thing” — yes, understood. I’ve read enough Jane Austen to understand the separate sitting rooms and the withdrawing rooms and so on (one of my favorite little scenes in P&P is when Elizabeth is remarking on how her friend Charlotte’s sitting room is fairly uncomfortable, until she realizes that perhaps Charlotte chose that one on purpose because it was less likely that her husband would join her there in the afternoons). I have just personally always preferred one big, comfy living space to multiple small rooms (the house we built didn’t even have a living room). So the two-parlor thing was the one problem with this house that I couldn’t fix. But turns out that when your kid hits about 14, it becomes a feature, not a bug. :-)

  67. Speaking of grandparents, I’m looking for gift suggestions for one. Any ideas?

  68. Speaking of grandparents, I’m looking for gift suggestions for one. Any ideas?

    mine are all about gift cards, they don’t want any more crap taking up space. (exceptions, new TV to replace old one, etc)

  69. I should clarify, gift cards for stuff they will but any way, groceries, restaurants, etc

  70. Laura, it’s still a cool chapter. Wish it was available online, assume it isn’t because of the pix. Maybe something to peruse if you’re at the library with the kids.

  71. “Perpetual calendars. on October 26, 2016 at 2:04 pm said:
    Speaking of grandparents, I’m looking for gift suggestions for one. Any ideas?”

    Taking a cue from your name, how about a personalized calendar? We’ve done that for grandparents frequently with cute pics of the kiddos, including pics from vacations/trips we’ve taken with them. They’ve all gone over very well. Plus you can order multiple copies for all of the relatives you buy gifts for on that side of the family, so it’s efficient. :-)

    Another bigger thing I did one year for Christmas was put together all our family recipes and had them bound up into “Laura’s Cookbook” (with smart-aleck commentary and family in-jokes, as you would expect knowing that this is me doing this). My mom got a huge kick out of seeing what recipes I had chosen from my childhood to put into the book.

    Or the ubiquitous digital picture frame, if they don’t have one already, pre-loaded with pics of the grandkids.

    Finally, for my Granny one year, when I was completely out of ideas, I wrote her a long letter telling her how much she meant to me and talking about all of the childhood memories and telling her things I had learned from her, etc.

  72. “Milo, what day of the week do you post your duggar recaps?”

    I haven’t been lately. I haven’t been able to come up with any good sarcasm about it, or maybe the pressure of knowing that people were actually looking forward to it got to me.

    But as a general recap of the last few weeks, including what happened on last night’s episode before I fell asleep, Ben’s one-day Football/Jesus Camp for at-risk youths went off without a hitch (I think. I somehow missed the second half of that episode and it’s possible that nobody actually showed up).

    The big news, of course, is that Jinger “Jinge” (rhymes with “cringe”) Duggar is now betrothed to the very Reverend Jeremy Vuolo of Laredo, TX. Their engagement was the dramatic culmination of the couple’s whirlwind Northeast tour that began with a stop at his boyhood home in Pennsylvania, where his parents reside, and a short kayak ride on the lake (in a skirt, of course) while Jeremy’s parents babysat the nephew of their future daughter-in-law. Moving on to suburban New Jersey, the traveling party of Jinger and Jeremy, Michelle, and Ben and Jessa and their baby, and we viewers, all got to meet Jeremy’s very nice, widowed grandmother. Grandma showed everyone embarrassing baby photos of her grandson before taking Jinger into the kitchen to pass on her secret recipes to making an authentic Italian dinner of spaghetti and meatballs. (The secret is to use jarred sauce.)

    They went to a minor league soccer game of Jeremy’s old team, hung out with some of his old teammates and their families, and finally ventured into the Big Apple for a couple days. In a dramatic turn of the weather just before dusk, the rain clouds parted to reveal a very intense sunset, and what Jinger was led to believe was only a rooftop photography session turned out to be a staged setting of Jeremy’s proposal. She said yes, and then they all went out for Korean Barbecue.

    The following week, long-suffering missionaries to Central America Jill and Ben returned to Arkansas, lucky to be alive and intact, by their accounts, with a strong heart to return (at some point) and continue their work, and no definite timeframe to do so. And seemingly no plans to do much of anything else, for that matter.

    Logically, Jim Bob awarded the family of three privileges to the Duggar Guest House, located on the family compound. It’s adorable how the younger kids refer to “the guest house” so matter-of-factly. And it’s an actual McMansion, I would guess about 4200 sf above grade. I remember reading in a tabloid a few months ago rumors that the “Guest House” was offered to daughter-in-law Anna after her husband’s Ashley Madison scandal broke and he was fired from his job. The article suggested that Jim Bob figured the property, which I believe he acquired from a foreclosure sale, was luxurious enough to convince someone like Anna, whose parents still live in a trailer, to stay married to their cheating son, and close enough for them all to keep an eye on him. But it doesn’t seem like she took him up on the offer, so the house goes to Jill and Derrick, for now.

    Naturally, since Cinderella Jana has no husband to take care of and nothing else to do, she was detailed to spruce the place up in anticipation of her sister’s arrival. Jana has such a heart for interior decorating, according to her fawning younger siblings in the show’s interviews, that they could definitely see her starting her own business of the sort. The poor young lady could offer only the most heartbreaking smile and “maybe someday” in response, clearly knowing that such a dream was never going to happen.

    But she did a good job sprucing up the guest house, with a lot of fresh paint and help from the wandering bunch of young kids. They all celebrated the thrift store couch that Jana managed to find. A crowd of 50 or so greeted the returning missionaries at the airport, where they were given a car from the family’s fleet and told where they’d be living.

    Let’s see…Ben and Jessa are expecting their second baby. “Doubling the love” was the photo theme. They had the whole bunch over for an ice cream party to reveal that. Insightful as usual, Ben mused aloud in an interview how, it’s like, now they have one kid, but pretty soon, that’s going to double and they’ll have two to take care of. Whoah.

    And last night was really just one of those trick episodes in which they make an entire show about the same people watching themselves in clips on TV. But there was some romantic drama when Jinger’s fiancé, Jeremy, managed, yet *again*, to fly from Laredo to Tontitown to “surprise her” for the third time in as many episodes. I’m really starting to think this guy is getting creepy with his constant need to SURPRISE! her.

  73. Thanks Rhett. She is afraid of driving here and that kind of seals it for me. Hadn’t thought about Zipcar but that is available too.

    Will have to look into whether regular rides can be arranged with uber

  74. I can’t stop thinking about the Americans. It is great when you have to binge watch four seasons, but I feel like I’m having withdrawal pains because there are no more episodes until next year.

  75. DH and I binge watched the first 3 seasons of the Americans that was included with Amazon Prime, we’re hooked

  76. Although it looks like the ability to schedule rides hasn’t been rolled out to all cities.

  77. My daughter’s teen hangout is the couch without folded laundry on it in the living room. Even when she’s not there you can tell it’s hers by the litter of discarded socks, wrappers, earbuds, and her current book or device.

    I don’t know if many of you see the surgical-mask-for-cold thing, though I’m sure Finn and MM do. But I had to roll my tongue back to keep from laughing when my older son wore one to school this morning — he’s back to school after a couple of days home with a cold but still feeling crummy and kind of mad at the world, so he wouldn’t have been amused. Maybe it’s a done thing at his school (lots of 1st generation Chinese kids), or maybe it’s the influence of our recent Japan trip,

  78. I caught a few minutes of the Duggars last night before I watched most of an episode of Outdaughtered, the reality show of a family with quintuplets baby daughters and an older pre-school age daughter. I felt stressed just seeing them discuss what their current and future expenses entail, including thousands each month for diapers and formula. Then they talked about gym classes and all the other stuff down the road, including college. This is a couple early 30s who underwent fertility treatment. From what I can tell, neither has a college education and the mother quit her job to take care of the kids.

    One of the grandmothers helps out a bit and the aunts/uncles do also. But it got me to thinking about my retirement, both the financial and lifestyle aspects. The MIL and the quints’ dad got into a little argument about how she had been late showing up to help them out. The overall stress was palpable at times. My planning has never included helping out my kids with the care and funding of quintuplets, but you never know what the future holds . . .

  79. Re. teen hangouts: I have started to get the Pottery Barn Teen catalog in the mail, and when I look through it, I find myself wondering if there really are that many teenagers out there who have rooms/hangout spaces that are as big as some people’s houses, and if there really are that many parents out there who are willing to pay for special sofa sets for their teenagers. Maybe in Newton, MA, where Amy the Parenting Coach lives, but in how many other places?

  80. CoC – We got a voicemail birthday party invitation a couple weeks ago from my kid’s classmate by the grandmother. DW and I were talking about how that’s at least the second kid in #2’s class (although not section, if you kwim) where the primary/legal guardian is the grandmother. DW went to the party and talked to the grandmother for a while, and the mother apparently had “visitation” for the birthday. And maybe the father showed up for a bit, but this wasn’t entirely clear.

    So we mentioned to my parents this past weekend, while we were on the boat, that they should be grateful that their kids at least have their shit together enough to not have turned them into primary guardians again. It seems increasingly common.

  81. when our kids have friends over they usually hang out in our 24′ x 16′ family room, where the big flatscreen is. Sometimes they go to the basement to play knee hockey, but since the gaming station we kept there went kaput the family room is the better place.

  82. Basements are popular around here for teen hangouts, but our basement is a man cave so our kids have used our family room and living room and kitchen. Some basements I’ve seen are quite large and set up very nice to accommodate teens. Not Pottery Barn necessarily, but more downscale type of furniture.

  83. Relating to the original article, I always got annoyed when going to Oregon gas stations because there is no self service – you have to have your gas pumped by an employee. DH explained it this way – what other job would these people do? I finally got it.

    Are there any other states that don’t do self-service gasoline?

  84. Honolulu said “My daughter’s teen hangout is the couch without folded laundry on it in the living room. Even when she’s not there you can tell it’s hers by the litter of discarded socks, wrappers, earbuds, and her current book or device.”
    That is how we track our daughter around the house. I found a half empty Sprite in her closet the other day. I didn’t even know we had Sprite in the house.
    My daughter favors a giant fuzzy green beanbag when she is in the living room. It looks like some kind of weird amoeba.

  85. @NOB – InMyDay, the teen hangout was usually a basement or a room above a garage that was usually cold, had cast off couches from the main living room that were 20 years old, and maybe a bean bag chair with the stuffing falling out. This was in all socioeconomic groups, although the cast-off furniture was nicer in the upscale houses, and there was more likely to be carpet and cable TV with premium channels and maybe a Nintendo or Sega. I wonder if it is much different now.

    It was definitely not outfitted with cool stuff like in the PB Teen catalog, but I don’t know of too many kid areas that look like the PB Kids catalog either I guess. Maybe those are the same households that send their kids to college with all the stuff to outfit their dorm rooms to look like a hotel room at Disney. I am totally fascinated by this – it is not my world at all.

    Does Jersey still do full serve gas only?

  86. Ivy, I saw something on the Ole Miss dorm rooms a month or two ago, and thought the school seemed like a bad fit for a girl who doesn’t find the idea of a girly-twinsy-jointly decorated dorm room appealing. It’s nice that they’re publicizing the tradition so those who like it can consider attending Ole Miss, and those who don’t can avoid it!

  87. I am totally fascinated by this – it is not my world at all.

    How do you mean? I bet you could pull that off for a few $100 per person via wayfair, target and Ikea.

  88. “that’s a Civic not a Hyundai.”

    yes, but the Elantras of that vintage were total crap. The new model, to which I limited my earlier search, are about equivalent to that era’s Civic.

  89. We just decided to make a “third space” in our house so there is another place for kids to go when we have parties so everyone doesn’t have to be crammed in the tv room. At our last party, the 5 girls banded together on the stairs. The plan right now is leave it empty, put toys and stuff in the closet (it is currently an unused guest bedroom), maybe mount a nerf basketball hoop, and paint the walls with that paint you can use dry erase markers on.

  90. are about equivalent to that era’s Civic.

    Do you have some data to back that up? I’ve certainly never heard anyone suggest such a thing.

  91. Rhett, I don’t think it’s the money that Ivy was referring to. It’s the spending the summer before starting college conferring with your assigned roommate on decorating details, and neither roommate says “no thanks I already have my own stuff,” and they agree that they’ll be going for a look of pastels / ruffles / monograms rather than the usual band / art posters and milk crates, and the first thing they do when they get to school is set all of this up, and that it’s a competitive thing.

  92. I just did a search for Honda’s with +200k and there are a ton, there are very few Hyundais for sale with +200k.

  93. Milo, the lack of +200k Hyundais would also indicate that the 200k lifetime estimate is too ambitious making a used Elantra at that price an even a worse deal .

  94. Well I favor Hondas, but I think that the modern Hyundais and GMs have gotten pretty good.

    It would have a non-zero salvage value.

  95. It would have a non-zero salvage value.

    It appears it would have scrap metal value at most well before 200k.

  96. WCE might have the right idea. Find a Buick from an old lady who only drove it to church, and take it from 50k to 150k miles.

  97. @HM – exactly. That type of room would not have been my style in college. I also don’t think I would have fit in with the grooming standards of Ole Miss, so no loss there. (I liked rolling out of bed, going to class in PJ pants, and having that be totally normal. Getting dressed up was reserved for parties and hockey games.)

    Not to mention that while you could theoretically do it with a bunch of stuff from Wayfair and TJ Maxx, I was referring to the world where people hire interior decorators for their daughter’s dorm rooms. That particular room was done by a designer who seems to have a booming business doing this.

  98. Rhett, thanks for the info on Uber scheduled rides! Unfortunately, it’s not available here yet, but good to know for travel to other cities. I sometimes hesitate to call uber for early morning airport runs.

    The International Driving License has to be issued by your home country, so that’s not an option for her.

  99. We have our play room in a second guest bedroom in our house too. It was originally my husband’s office but there is a long side room off of the dining room that had been the playroom and it made much more sense as an office. It was the best decision ever – the toys in the common areas have been greatly reduced and the second guest bedroom has two deep closets to store toys. If we stay here I envision maybe DS wanting to move downstairs away from the girls eventually so then we’d look at renovating the basement for a kid area. I am so jealous of my friends with their finished basements and no toys on the first level. Someday!

  100. Milo – I’m at my DD’s doctor appointment and they have Tiny House Hunters on in the waiting room. The couple is looking to buy a sailboat to live on full-time!

  101. You know, one of the things I talk about with my clients a lot is finding a “marker” so you can figure things out before you get too deeply into it. (So for ex., when I am starting a new case, I will intentionally leave a meaningless agreement oral, so that I can judge whether the guy is reasonable or a total a-hole.). I think that dorm room is one of the best markers I’ve ever seen:

    Competitive matchy-matchy dorm room decoration — pick one:

    a. OMG, I cannot imagine anything more awesome, I just *have* to go there! Gotta go start working on my design scheme.

    b. Wow, I don’t have the energy or the design skills, but it would be neat to live in a dorm that isn’t so dingy and depressing.

    c. Meh. It’s cute, I guess. But don’t you have better things to do?

    d. [Turns and retches into a bucket]

  102. Rhett, I see 37.8 K as the total cost of attendance, if you’re not a MS resident.

  103. @Kerri: Jah. Don’t think there’s any surprise which, er, bucket I fall into.

  104. I’m wondering how the guys handle the room decoration thing at Ole Miss.

    BTW, HM, were you doing a NMSF college tour? What did you think of Ole Miss overall?

    Ole Miss is one of the schools that offers generous merit aid to NMSF and is frequently mentioned on the CC forum I read, along with places like UK (KY), USC (both of them), ASU, OU, and Bama (RT), with many of them also having honors colleges. Bama (RT) and its honors college seems to be the most popular overall.

  105. “buy a sailboat to live on full-time!”

    I’ve recently read of some people doing that, even with a couple little kids. Compared to a power boat of the same length, sailboats are usually much narrower by design, with lower cabins and tiny windows. It all makes for a much more seaworthy vessel, no doubt, but less comfortable.

  106. Going farther back up the thread….

    “Then our mortgage company was bought by Key Bank and when we tried to set up the automatic payment, it was too large to go through a regular transfer process”

    Couldn’t you have your bank’s bill payment service mail a check every month?

    “My pregnancy is very typical this time”

    Congrats!! I did not know you were expecting.

    “And that will be enough to replace America’s 3.5 million truck drivers?”

    I think it’ll be a while before they all need to be replaced. First it’ll be the long-haul drivers delivering containers. I think the software companies will find it a challenge to program the local delivery trucks to double park in front of the convenience store while the robot unloads the beer hand-trucks it into the store.

  107. Finn, no MS tour, I just happened to see an article or something about the decorating a while ago. However, I have to say the decorating seems like a negative indicator for my son, even if the young men aren’t expected to do it.

  108. even if the young men aren’t expected to do it.

    Back in my day, guy spent a lot of time and money on decor. The theme ran more towards big TVs, steroes and game systems or Hefneresque boom boom room. But they still spent a just as much (if not more) time, effort and money on it. I assume it’s the same today.

  109. At my college the young men spent about as much time and money on decor as the young women, but that’s because everyone decorated with milk crates, used furniture, and posters. Used tvs (if you even had one) and boomboxes or those bookshelf stereos were the usual electronics.

  110. There have been at least one or two CC threads discussing whether non-Southerners can handle the revulsion they may feel stepping on campus at Ole Miss. Same with Alabama and other schools that offer grants to entice students from other parts of the country. I think one of our regulars has commented on this issue faced by her college kid at another Southern school. I guess there has to be a balance between a student feeling comfortable at his school and being open to experiencing a different culture.

  111. @Rhode, so jazzed for you! Enjoy your normal pregnancy. Mine are two years apart too and we have really loved the size of the gap both in terms of being able to meet their needs but also being easily able to do things as a family and everyone being able to keep up! You deserve an easy time!

    As for the basement hang out. We just redid our basement as a kid hangout. I’d rather have them here than somewhere else.

    When I was in college, our “decor” was a Monet poster and a bright comforter!

  112. “surgical-mask-for-cold thing”

    I’ve started wearing a SARS mask in all out of state flights. I’ve found the dry air in plane cabins to really irritate my throat and sinuses, and have found that the mask traps a lot of my respiratory moisture and helps keep them from drying out. Combine that with noise-cancelling headphones and keeping hydrated, and I arrive feeling pretty good.

  113. My freshman roommate had a motorcycle, and she brought the engine inside, dumped it on the rug, and tinkered with it all year. We got along great. The rug was ruined.

  114. Is anyone watching Westworld, and if so, do you have the slightest idea what’s going on? I get really confused.

  115. “whether non-Southerners can handle the revulsion they may feel stepping on campus at Ole Miss. Same with Alabama and other schools that offer grants to entice students from other parts of the country.”

    The CC postings I’ve read suggest that Bama (RT) has done a much better job than many of the other schools at addressing this. Quite a few of the Co17 NMSFs ended up with Bama as their top choice, and I believe more than half the students there are from OOS.

  116. Our teen hangout is the basement. It’s not all that big, but that’s where the XBox is, along with a big screen TV of course. The furniture is older stuff we moved down there when we got newer stuff.

    But our kids don’t have friends over all that much. DS and his friends’ main socialization is video games, and with a lot of the games you can’t play head-to-head on the same console, you have to play online from different ones. So they prefer to play online from their respective homes. And DD hardly ever gets together with her friends for some reason. I think a lot of it is that because they live far apart, there isn’t any of the “stop at someone’s house when they walk home from school” impromptu stuff. If they want to get together, it takes quite a bit of advance planning.

  117. DD just pointed out that her comforter is so little girl and it may even have a hole. Of course a PB a Teen catalog was sitting right on her bed if I wanted suggestions. She likes design and is good at crafts. Tying back to different careers who knows what that sort of skill will translate to in the future.

  118. I am enjoying westworld. But they are hoping for a five year run. So don’t hold your breath about having all the threads tied up any time soon.

  119. I am also enjoying Westworld. But, I was a big Lost devotee, and got a little cranky at the end when they didn’t tie up all of the loose threads. In Westworld, I am assuming that eventually one of the hosts is going to kill one of the guests.

    One of the things I’m wondering is who is fooling with the hosts and letting them become more human? Is it Bernard, or Ford (if that Anthony Hopkins)?

    Also, when Dolores was staying overnight at the campfire with the McPoyle brother (the nice guy) and then we see Bernard talking to her in the lab – what happened? Did some workers come and take her away while the men were sleeping and then bring her back before morning?

  120. Mooshi, perhaps that is why UK has one of the most generous NMSF packages.

    I’ve read that more NMSF go to Harvard than any other school, despite it offering absolutely no financial incentive for NMSF status.

  121. HM, re: your daughter’s stuff in the couch – after my oldest had been away at school for a month or two, I sat in the big chair she always sat in. I was adjusting the back cushion to get comfortable and found a Coke Zero bottle buried in there. So even when they’re gone, they’re still there.

  122. CoC, you could always refuse to be regular childcare for grandkids. When my mom explained that they had too many social commitments to come spend a week with my tot when I had new jobs, she told me I should be glad for that.

    On the teen caves, I recall a fairly large house from 15 years ago where each kid’s room was two rooms, one for homework, hanging out, etc, the other an actual bedroom. Both were full-sized bedrooms. So I’m not convinced that this is a new thing.

    Finn, does that getup get you selected for terrorist screenings?

  123. I taught at a Southern U for a while, with students who had applied to Ole Miss and Bama, but couldn’t get in. I never saw student dorm rooms, but some fashions were baffling to me: wearing flannel pajama pants with full makeup and hairstyling. Also, on chilly mornings, girls would start to pull on sweaters but not finish. They put their arms all the way into the sleeves, but didn’t put their head through the neck. The entire body of the sweater was in front of their body, stretched in a band across their chest. Bright colored sweaters highlighted their breasts. It was very bizarre to me.

  124. I’ve just listened to a debate for Florida senator. The questions included several that were notably absent from presidential debates, and both candidates spoke clearly and knowledgeably. Refreshing!

  125. Denver – my son does the same thing with his friends. Here they either arrive with their console and a television under their arms or they gather the tvs from our house and create a whole scene down there. Its crazy that there is nothing to play together anymore – it is like together but separate. Weird!

  126. My brother is in a regular online poker game with a group of friends, coworkers, old neighbors, and in some cases a friend or two of those people. Sometimes a few (but not all) of the players will physically get together to share beer and snacks while they play at a table, and they just bring laptops in that case.

  127. My kids and their friends all play D&D, which is definitely not an online kind of game

  128. I’ve read that more NMSF go to Harvard than any other school, despite it offering absolutely no financial incentive for NMSF status.

    I would guess that most students who get into Harvard would much rather pay full freight (or whatever aid package they get) and go to Harvard than save some money and go to a middle tier state U. And I’m sure a large number of student who get admitted to Harvard are NMSF.

  129. My husband DMs for the kids to play D&D sometimes . . . the kids fight in-game, to the detriment of their party. We have a playlist for their gaming sessions that involves computer RPG soundtracks, Lord of the Rings music, and several repeats of Yakety Sax so as to accurately represent their gaming style.

  130. Moxie – thanks. I need encouragement on the 2 2 yrs apart thing. I’m very anxious about being able to be a good mom, wife, and employee.

    Finn – thank you.

    On my earlier post re: dealing with my parent company – sent an email detailing the travel plan approved by my doc and direct supervisor. No response yet… :)

  131. DD,

    75% of Harvard students have scores above 2100. That’s the same percentile as the NMSF cutoff so about 75% would, in theory, be NMSF. 25% have scores above 2350.

  132. RMS – Yes to Bernard. The way Ford paused before using the word “employee” for B when talking to the lady from corporate HQ. And how the name Charlie was introduced for B’s dead son. I think that the one whose son died is Ford – during one of his walks he had a chat with a kid who was clearly a host for whom he had great affection.

  133. Milo, I am just watching this week’s Duggar episode. I cannot believe you left out the fact that Jim Bob developed a 50-page questionnaire for potential suitors! Holy cow! So Jim Bob knows these guys better than the girlfriends/wives do. This man is over the top! And I am just trying to picture my husband’s face if my dad had presented him with a 50 page questionnaire.

  134. DD, I’ve been using TurboTax for years, and have overall been satisfied. They seem to have continually improved their product from year to year, making it easier to use.

    One reason I like to do our own taxes is that it gives me visibility over how the decisions I’ve made affect our tax bill. It also allows me to play with scenarios to see how having done things differently would’ve affected our bill. In the past, I’ve compared tax bills filing jointly vs separately, and picked the filing status that gave us the lowest total bill.

  135. RMS and Meme – I had not thought about Bernard being a host! Yikes, that is an interesting idea. Does the corporate lady/his “bit of fluff” know that he isn’t a real person?

  136. A high school friend and her husband lived on a sailboat in San Francisco bay when they were just out of school. They wanted to live there, but couldn’t really afford it, so found the sailboat to be an affordable alternative for a few years.

    The Ole Miss dorms don’t bother me. I wouldn’t go to that much trouble myself, but if you’re going to live some place for a year, putting some effort into making it feel more homey than institutional can go a ways toward alleviating homesickness. But I like more of the Southern culture than a lot of people on this board.

  137. Milo, I am just watching this week’s Duggar episode. I cannot believe you left out the fact that Jim Bob developed a 50-page questionnaire for potential suitors! Holy cow! So Jim Bob knows these guys better than the girlfriends/wives do. This man is over the top! And I am just trying to picture my husband’s face if my dad had presented him with a 50 page questionnaire.

    He should just give them a football test like in Diner.

  138. if you’re going to live some place for a year, putting some effort into making it feel more homey than institutional

    Hey, I chose those art posters carefully! I had my walls just about papered with those, amusing posters from college events, and some memorabilia from home.

  139. My room mate in college got permission to paint our suite/common area white and stick a border around the top. We all helped paint – which helped people get to know each other.
    White was preferable to the dingy yellow the school painted the dorms.
    The girls with single rooms were RAs. Their rooms were well decorated but as Rhett says, it was with stuff that you can buy from Target.
    There were small things my room mate did that first year – pumpkin carving is another thing that were new to me and it was a good learning experience.

  140. For me living the dorms were a great cultural learning experience. I got to know not only about my room mates but also their families and the surrounding college community. I interacted not so much with the professors but the staff due to my international student status.
    I *know* my suite mates sometimes rolled their eyes at trying to explain the obvious to them things but new to me. But all in all, I had a very good experience. Now, that I have kids, I realize that my college mates parents did an excellent job of raising their kids. These were mostly middle class families with a few Totebaggers thrown in and there were first generation college students as well.

  141. Oh yeah, I forgot about the questionnaire. Maybe it’s the shorter days with Fall, but DW and I have been requiring more sleep lately, so I remember that now, but I don’t think I saw the whole episode.

  142. @DD: forgot to mention, we do TurboTax ourselves and always have. It managed W2s, various investment stuff, rental condo, and that sort of thing well enough. We used to use an accountant when we first got married and converted my old condo to a rental, but that was $750/yr, and really, our taxes weren’t that complicated. Plus it was almost as much work to get all the stuff to him and doublecheck everything.

  143. @ Milo: us too! I have my second 7AM flight in two weeks this AM, and it is miserable. Meanwhile, DH and I are falling asleep on the couch at 9:30. I think it’s a vestigial hibernation instinct or something.

  144. Decorating rooms in college seems to be an extension of decorating lockers in middle school. I was glad that DD aged out of the locker chandelier this year from PB Teen.

    I saw lots of dorm room photos at the end of August, and I just think it is so much ease to decorate with inexpensive stuff now vs. when I was a kid thanks to Target, Home Goods etc.

  145. @Rhode, I won’t like the front end of that placement is exhausting, but ultimately I’m so glad we did it. They will both be in school rather quickly so you can cross the day care off in 2 years instead of over a longer period. Be kind to yourself.

    I won’t watch those Duggars – I think they are the most reprehensible people and I won’t play any part in supporting anything that they do.

    @honolulu – they don’t have digital D&D yet? How has that not come about?

  146. Rhode – Congratulations. Glad to know that Baby Rhode # 1 is doing fine. When you are in the thick of it all each day passes slowly but the years pass quickly especially when they enter school.
    Wine – good luck with buying a suitable car.

    As for school lockers, DS reports with a grin that he has seen locker carpets on the highly decorated lockers and extreme bad smells coming out from the slum dog lockers. It was suggested that locker shelves would help with organization – but this year the locker shelves are sitting in a closet at home, unused.

  147. I am so ready for Daylight savings to end. I hate the fact that it stays dark so late in the mornings! I don’t love the evening darkness, but for some reason the mornings are worse for me. Will we ever go back to 6 months on/6 months off? The last week or so I have been going to bed later and getting up later, and I think it is because my body is ready to be back on Standard time.

  148. “I hate the fact that it stays dark so late in the mornings!”

    And I hate when it gets dark so early. And then the cold . . . ugh.

    I humored my DH by sitting through the first episode of Westworld, which he loves, but no dice for me. I don’t think I’ll ever find a show that both of us like, mainly because I don’t like any of the popular shows that everyone else loves.

  149. CoC,
    We both liked Silicon Valley, though it is extremely crude at times. But the Venn diagram of the shows that DH and I both like is narrow. Have you watched Making a Murderer on Netflix? We were binge-watching something else when it was originally released, but, like Last Chance U, it is riveting. Truth is really stranger than fiction. I’m going to binge-watch the remaining episodes tonight, even though DH has a work event, because it’s that good and I am sure that DH has already Googled the story and will accidentally ruin it for me. Sky, have you seen it? If you’ve done any criminal defense work, it would be even more intriguing. And very depressing too.

  150. Costofcollege – there must be something that you both can enjoy. Perhaps if you name 3 shows you love and 3 shows he loves, we can come up with suggestions that fit your tastes.

  151. Thanks for all the replies on turbotax.

    @honolulu – they don’t have digital D&D yet? How has that not come about?

    Yes, there is. But the true gamers prefer playing old school.

  152. Anon at 8:05 was me. DH left for the airport at 5:15 and I couldn’t go back to sleep (it is 6:05 for me).

  153. Yeah, I don’t like the dark in the mornings and I have been tired these past few weeks. It seems like fall snuck up on me. Somehow I was lulled into eternal summer.

  154. I would love the matching dorm styles at Ole Miss now but the 18 year old me from Massachusetts in the mid 90s would not have loved it. Then again, there’s been an explosion in the home improvement/decorating business over the last ten or fifteen years and I know a lot of kids that are really into HGTV too.

    I love, love, love this time of year. Best sleep of the year. I was asleep by 9:30 last night and slept until 6:45 this a.m. (and really only woke up then because my kids were for some reason awake early this a.m.).

    Rhode – two years apart is great, they’ll be best friends. My younger two don’t even want to hang out with me at all when they’re home together – they tell me to leave the play room.

    Denver – I switched to Turbo Tax 8 years ago when I realized that the 25 page tax work sheet my accountant was having me fill out was basically the same thing as putting it all into Turbo Tax. That and I had to correct his junior accountants every year (they missed the 529 deductions and recommended we do a Roth IRA when we made too much money). It’s so easy and we do have stock sales every year. You can actually just download everything in a lot of times so you don’t even have to manually type it all in.

  155. Louise – it’s because it still feels like summer out! Our forecast is nothing but mid-80s every day for the next week. Ugh!

  156. Maybe I’ll go back to Turbo Tax this year. I did it for years. I was using DH’s firm’s accountant because she charges the lawyers half price, and Mom’s stuff was slightly complicated (three trust returns had to be filled out every year, etc.) so I just had her do ours too. The only thing that throws me off is the fact that DH’s firm has offices in several states, so there’s some firm-wide agreement (that comes with a form) about how to handle all those other-state taxes, and then there’s the 401K (that’s easy) but there’s also a cash-balance plan and I don’t know where to enter that info. Maybe I’m talking myself out of it. I suppose I could just crib off the last few years’ returns, though.

  157. B.J. Novak
    The Accountant is the most exciting movie title since The Constant Gardener

  158. “but there’s also a cash-balance plan ”

    When I told Rhett that I was getting 10% matching, it wasn’t entirely correct, because it’s really 5% matching and another 5% into a cash balance plan, but I didn’t think anyone had ever heard of those.

  159. Atlanta – it is chilly in the morning and tough to get out of bed but by the afternoon it is up to 80, warm and sunny.

  160. RMS – if DH was a partner I would probably have an accountant do our taxes too. Don’t you have to file a bunch of different state returns?

  161. Don’t you have to file a bunch of different state returns?

    No, that’s where the firm-wide agreement comes in. Like, uh, the firm pays some joint amount to all the states or something? And so you just file this form that says you are participating in this agreement. Yeah, I’m having the accountant do it. Because she’s the firm’s CPA, she knows all this stuff backwards and forwards and does a bunch of the lawyers’ taxes.

  162. “Don’t you have to file a bunch of different state returns?”

    That’s why we started using a professional, who happens to be a family friend. Our returns have since simplified a bit, but we still use him. He probably gives us a “family” discount, and has always been very responsive.

    I started to help one of our kids use Turbotax and it did seem easy, except for some confusion about being able to use the free version for the state return. If I had spent a little more time on it I probably could have figured it out.

    Hey, for the house lovers, “$11.885M Scarsdale Mansion Goes On Market For First Time In Decades”. I used to walk on this street while waiting for my kid to finish up with Kumon, located down the street. It was usually mobbed, btw. Here’s the listing.

  163. I’ve been reading this guy’s Great Loop blog a little at a time:

    They used the boat that’s almost identical to the one I want (I want the one that’s slightly bigger and with a flybridge on the top). But it’s close.

    The part that drives me insane is that he uses passive voice almost exclusively. “After lunch was eaten, the kayaks were broken out and the marshlands were explored.”

    I don’t know why it bothers me so much, but I can only take it in tiny doses. I’m up to the Chesapeake Bay.

  164. I love Heathcote. We drive on that road, and it is hard to see the houses behind the tall hedges, so this posting is a treat because I can see inside.

  165. For my state return, I just log into the Dept of Revenue and enter it directly. I get my state refund within a week. I refuse to pay Turbo Tax extra to do it because it is so easy. But I don’t have anything complicated in my state taxes – one state, some normal deductions (529, private school tuition credit, etc).

    I have been watching Westworld & I am torn. It is beautifully shot with some great acting, yet intentionally confusing and kind of boring in a weird way too because it is so damn slow. I did love LOST, but the “mystery” here isn’t that intriguing to me and neither are the characters. I mean – Ford is no Ben Linus. But I like it enough to keep giving it a chance, especially since there isn’t much else on Sunday nights right now.

    I also prefer dark mornings to it being pitch black when I leave work, even at 5 or 5:30.

  166. My parents lived on their sailboat for a while. They were moving from the east coast to the west coast, and because they weren’t very familiar with the area, they wanted to wait a bit before buying a house. So they lived on their boat for about 6 months. My dad loved it, I think he would have done it permanently. My mom was fine with it for that time frame, but not a long term solution for her. She was also the one going back and forth selling their house here, coordinating the move, etc. so she had breaks from being on it.

  167. BTW, the Scarsdale high school team mascot name is “Raiders” and I used to see “Go Raiders” signs in front of these huge mansions, at the end of their long driveways, during football (or maybe lacrosse) season. It somehow made me chuckle and think of this tiny similarity to Friday Night Lights culture. And I wondered if the full name was originally “corporate raiders”. ;)

  168. Sky, it is seriously hard to get going the last few weeks of DST! My son’s school STARTS before sunrise. When he leaves the house for the bus, it is entirely dark outside, not even dusk. Besides this going against any kind of biological rhythm, I honestly worry about his safety on a particular part of his walk. I’ve pretty much agreed to drive him from now until the time change. Neither of us really like it when I drive him, but it’s better to plan for it than be thrown into it at the last minute repeatedly. But mostly I wish they would just make up their GD minds. The switching back and forth is not healthy for anyone. Used to be that we could count on two weeks of awfulness every spring around the switch.

    ” Its crazy that there is nothing to play together anymore – it is like together but separate. Weird!” I lived in a nerd dorm where we all gathered in the basement rec room to watch Star Trek, the next generation together every evening after dinner. Our rooms had moulding strips and there was a store uptown that sold shelves to be hung from them. Nearly everyone had some of those, and a few posters and things plasty-tacked to the walls. Strictly no nails, and I don’t know how easy it would’ve been to pound them in anyway. Our dorm was old, had been used as a lazarette while the school closed for the Civil War.

    Milo, is the guy trying to sound 18th century or something with the passive voice? And is the “Great Loop” just the Eastern US? One of my Swiss brothers and his wife honeymooned by sailing across the Atlantic from Spain to the Caribbean. I know they went to some S American countries, but am not sure if they crossed the Pacific or not. By that point in the slide show, I’d seen enough pretty sunsets and was kind of zoned out.

    Lark, I think I’d like living on a boat. Mostly, I’d like the results of the forced weed-out leading up to it.

  169. In general, I’m not a single issue voter but I’d vote for almost anyone if they would get rid of daylight savings time. I don’t really care whether we stay on DST or go off it – I just hate the switching back and forth. Pick one and stick with it.

  170. “Milo, is the guy trying to sound 18th century or something with the passive voice?”

    I don’t believe so. I think that some people feel like it’s a way of writing more properly or formally. That might have something to do with the fact that you see it a lot in professional settings when nobody wants to take the blame for something. “It is regretful that mistakes were made..”

    And is the “Great Loop” just the Eastern US?”

    Yep. Eastern ICW, Hudson, Erie or St. Lawrence Seaway, Great Lakes, Rivers down the middle, Gulf, Florida ICW.

  171. I really prefer DST. I much prefer having light in the evenings, and I’m usually up before light anyway. Does anyone else of a certain age have difficulty sleeping through the night? I feel like I’m back on the baby schedule waking up between 1 and 3:00 am every morning.

  172. Does anyone else of a certain age have difficulty sleeping through the night?


  173. “waking up between 1 and 3:00 am every morning.”

    That’s me, but I don’t think I need as much sleep as when I was younger.

  174. It doesn’t help that my geriatric cat screams randomly in the middle of the night.

  175. Crap, don’t tell me that I’ll finally have the baby stop waking up and then find out I’m of a certain age.

  176. Milo – that guy said he did the GL in 10 months. Does that seem fast to you from what you’ve been reading from other loopers?

  177. “And I hate when it gets dark so early. And then the cold . . . ugh.”

    Have you considered becoming a snowbird?

  178. “that guy said he did the GL in 10 months. Does that seem fast to you from what you’ve been reading from other loopers?”

    Is that the guy with the Ranger 29 that I linked? I’ve only read maybe about a third of it.

    I think a year is the standard to work with the weather, and it’s a nice round number, so 10 months isn’t that much faster. I guess thinking about the descriptions of their days, they’re doing a lot of hanging out at anchor at night, and leaving the next morning; whereas the previous one I read seemed to describe more sightseeing. (These people are sightseeing, too, but maybe for one or two days rather than three or four.)

    Around Maryland, her dad passed away, and they left the boat in Solomons for a couple weeks, unsure what would happen next. They’re Pacific Northwesterners who had done all their boating in…where? Puget Sound area? something like that. They had the boat trailered to Florida to do the Loop. So one possibility was to simply have it trailered back home, but after a couple weeks at home, she decided that she wanted to finish the trip. I’m up to New York with them now.

    I read ahead their entries at the bottom for spoilers, and learned that after completing the Loop, they decided they wanted to be full-time live-aboards, so they upgraded to this Krogen 39:

    And they have a whole ‘nother blog, I see, of their adventures in the Northwest Passage into Alaska.

    I rode a submarine from Pearl Harbor to Ketchikan once, but otherwise know nothing about it other than what I’ve seen on Dangerous Catch and Coast Guard Alaska, so those waters scare me. :)

  179. For those who like Deadliest Catch, there’s a new season coming out of Newport, OR, which is the port by me.

  180. WCE – The show makes me wonder, is it EVER calm where they’re crabbing? I’ve only seen a few episodes, but it seems they only show footage of these terrible storms with icy water that can wash them overboard or sink the boat at any minute.

    Back to the blogging couple, the Krogen that they upgraded to is 100% more of an ocean-going boat than the Ranger, no question about it. It’s just that in their Ranger blogs, he frequently talks about how they appreciate the availability of speed when necessary, and they frequently run fast to avoid unfavorable weather or currents. But in upgrading, they went from 260 hp pushing 10,000 lbs down to 115 hp pushing 35,000 lbs. So they ain’t going anywhere fast.

  181. Milo- I’d want to do that loop in a leisurely fashion, don’t you think? That trade off between speed is big- more than ice we were caught in squalls in our sailboat- never happens in our motor cruiser.

    I was once on a cruise in that Alaska inner passage- and we were headed to Glacier Bay and got caught in a huge storm. It was CRAZY! The stuff was sliding all over the stateroom, people heading to their muster stations at 3AM. My family was kind of ok with it, until suddenly it really felt like it was tipping- I almost had a heart attack and my 15 year old (bigger than me) son jumped into my arms. It turns out the captain was turning around and didn’t tell us!!
    We never made it to Glacier Bay- so yeah- scary waters!
    I’ve never watched Deadliest Catch, we are huge Wicked Tuna fans though.

  182. Mafalda, I think I missed something. Since you and Milo are always talking about boats, do you have a boat and/or do you live on it sometimes?

  183. That’s incredible that a cruise ship was having those issues on the Inside Passage (that’s what I meant to say, not Northwest). I thought it was sheltered enough.

    “That trade off between speed is big- more than ice we were caught in squalls in our sailboat- never happens in our motor cruiser.”

    The thing is, the very characteristics that make it seaworthy (full displacement hull, heavy and low ballast, for both that Krogen and your sailboat) are what guarantee it will be slow. You could throw a 1,000 hp engine in it and it’s still not going to go fast just based on the design.

    My mom has a Hobie sea kayak with the Mirage drive (pedals). Since your legs are powerful and fast, you can run this simulation by pedaling it as fast as you can, and you quickly reach “hull speed” that is effectively impossible to exceed. The kayak starts futilely trying to climb out of the water, and it gives up all your extra energy in the effort.

  184. I’ll see if my husband wants to weigh in this evening. He’s familiar with those waters.

  185. RMS- yes we have a cabin cruiser- and a smaller boat we use for fishing. (We had a gorgeous sailboat that we loved, but even though we are retired, we are not yet empty nesters so could not make good use of it, so we traded that in for the cruiser. ) we do not live on it- I subscribe to the “huge house movement” (I’m only kinda kidding.)
    Milo- I have that Hobie sea kayak with the Mirage pedals- it’s is so awesome, especially for women because our upper body strength is so much weaker than our legs, but I also rigged it with a sail, so I only have to pedal sometimes. And without the sail, you can fish because your hands are free.

  186. “it’s is so awesome, especially for women”

    Yeah, it allows my parents to kayak together for hours with similar levels of exertion. They can put in right at their little beach, or trailer them (but the pickup is now supposed to just carry them in the bed, with a tailgate extender).

  187. Milo, I don’t fully understand what you said, but is that why a paddleboat has such a low “full speed”?

  188. WCE – I don’t understand it, either. But, as you might imagine, there are engineering trade offs and optimizations involved with propellors: pitch, specifically, plus diameter, number of blades, etc.

    A paddle wheel is not really optimized in any way.

  189. I mean those flat bottom boats you bicycle around the lake at camp, not an actual paddle wheel

  190. No, the problem with those boats is the paddle wheel, not the hull design. As soon as you start pedaling fast, the paddles are just slipping across the water, but with almost no purchase.

    The discussion of hull speed effectively only applies to displacement hulls (like a sailboat) that are not designed to climb out and ride over the water; theyre always operating by displacing water around them. But with a planing boat, the flatter you make the bottom, the sooner it planes. So the campground boats, if flat, should be able to plane and go fast if only they had more efficient propulsion.

    Nearly flat bottom, high horsepower, boat almost entirely out of the water:

  191. The downside is that flat bottoms don’t handle waves very well. This explains why Krogen boats are seaworthy (like sailboats):

  192. WCE, I thought you were much further East than that. I’ve been assuming you were fine during storms at the coast.

    I never understood sleep problems until my little one gave up how middle of the night feeding. Used to be, we’d wake up, he’d nurse, and we’d go right back to sleep. Then he stopped and I’d wake up anyway, just lying there unable to sleep. I finally started getting over that and the middle of the night pee thing started. The last couple months there has been little of that. I’m not sure why–maybe the weight loss? Or it could be that I’m defining “middle of the night” differently. Sometimes that bathroom trip was at 2 or 3, but sometimes it wasn’t until after 5. Now that DS is in a school that starts at 7:30 (1.5 hrs earlier than last years school!), being awake before 6 just means my day is off to a good start. So like those people who tell you their 3 month old sleeps through the night–sounds impressive, until you realize that the way they’re defining it, “all night” means ~5 hours.

  193. You can cross the Southern Oceans in a 40-foot sailboat with a three-year-old and a one-year old:

    that sounds like hell

  194. “that sounds like hell”

    I kind of agree. I would just be terrified. Of everything. Storms, something going wrong, a kid falling overboard, illness, pirates.

  195. Still, I enjoy reading about it. It’s more interesting to me than

  196. “It’s more interesting to me than”

    Just wait until your kids are in HS and you’re faced with spending hundreds of thousands on college.

  197. Newport is 40 miles linearly from both home and work, though the road distance is longer because of the coast range, limited roads, etc. That is close enough that you get an evening ocean breeze in some locations- I used to really notice it roller blading or biking in my prekid days. Also, recall that wind and waves are more powerful on the Pacific than on the Atlantic. That’s why the wave research lab for power generation is located in Newport.

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