Open thread

We have an open thread all day today.

Simplistic, but an interesting question:

One simple question will tell you if you’re actually wealthy

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121 thoughts on “Open thread

  1. The key question in the link:

    To answer his own question, Sall developed a scale for quantifying wealth. Here’s how well off you are depending on how long you could last without a source of income:
    •Less than a month: Broke
    •One-to-three months: Teetering
    •Three-to-six months: Satisfactory
    •Six months to two years: Well-off
    •Two-to-five years: Wealthy
    •Five or more years: Ultra-wealthy

    I’m ultra-wealthy.

  2. Then again, so is every single retired person, even the ones who are getting by solely on Social Security checks.

  3. Wealth is defined in terms of assets. So, one can have crazy income and no wealth– and modest/no income but tremendous wealth. If I’m a spendthrift, I’m doing “great” by worldly standards, but I won’t be considered “wealthy” (esp. by govt measures).

  4. I’m ultra-wealthy.

    I thought you were “people like us” who would never buy a Bosch dishwasher. :)

  5. So my kids are going to a very non-totebaggy HS. DS said that his English teacher told them they are going to spend the next three weeks listening to an audio book. I emailed the teacher asking if she can explain the academic purpose of this because it seems that sophomores are fully capable of reading the book on their own, and class time could be better used to discuss the book and/or write about it. It has been several days and she has not responded.

  6. Denver Dad, at my high school, we wouldn’t have spent 3 weeks listening to an audio book. We would have just watched the movie.

  7. DD – I’m easy going about schools, but I would be annoyed about that, and I would ask the same question. If there’s no reply in three days, I might send it again, CC’ing the principal. That’s a total waste of in-class time.

    I don’t have an InstaPot, but I did finally buy a plug in dimmer switch to “hack” my new crock pot. I made sure to get a crock pot that does not have digital controls. We’re going to get back to what slow cooking was meant to be…slow!….before all crock pots were ruined by liability concerns.

    I’ll let you know how it goes. And I’ll still use a meat thermometer to check final temperatures.

  8. Using the scale presented, I/we are ultra-wealthy. I’m not certain if I’d use 5 years as the period for ultra wealthy, I’d think higher, but I don’t have any better specific measure.

    I am glad the article makes the distinction between income and wealth.

  9. DD – “listening to an audio book”

    maybe you need to talk to the teacher, as reading, e.g. an email, may not be his/her forte.

  10. Today Twitter has #MyHighSchoolYearsIn5Words trending. This is not five words but related to the discussion in the previous post:

    Teacher : If you need me to repeat anything, feel free to ask

    Me : How do I graph a polynomial function again ?

    Teacher : I explained that 2 semesters ago. Why weren’t you listening ?

    For some reason this tweet is at the top of my feed:

    What’s your five-word high school description?

  11. I suffer a little PTSD when I see comments like that of Denver Dad. Reading sections aloud in class, or listening on audio book, is legitimate in some cases. But the whole book?

  12. I think that it isn’t a great metric. According to it, my parents are ultra-wealthy. They are not.

  13. DS’s class read a classic novel in class. There were detailed homework questions on the novel, as well as a poster on a theme of their choice from the novel with a write up. Poster had to be neat not pretty.
    Anyway, it seems a section of students looked up the questions and found them on the internet, complete with answers. A quick copy paste to the rescue. However the wiley teacher had changed questions randomly and of course has access to the internet so the plagiarism didn’t work.

  14. Lark, I think you’d like the InstantPot. I would recommend reading something that has tips on how to best use it. The beginning section of this book would actually work well: https://www.amazon.com/Indian-Instant-Pot®-Cookbook-Traditional-ebook/dp/B075HHYXWF — she talks about some general principles of Instant Pot use that aren’t specific to Indian cooking. Like for instance, if there is food stuck onto the bottom it’ll sense that as meaning the temperature is too high so won’t come to pressure — that explains what happened the one time my husband tried to do a beef stew with floured beef chunks. (You can still sear first, but you’re better off waiting till the end to add any flour or other thickener.)

    What’s your five-word high school description?

    Voted “Most Intelligent.” Never “Hottest.”

  15. Lark—I got an instant pot for Christmas and like it—have made several things where the time to cook was significantly shortened. But I’ve never used a slow cooker, so can’t compare the two methods.
    I have seen many IP recipes where I wonder, why bother? The stuff could be made just as easily in a conventional method of cooking.

  16. Shakespeare is best when read aloud (or seen on stage), as are other some other texts. Not sure it would take 3 weeks to read a Hamlet aloud, though.

    I like this metric, but only applying to those under 65. It creates a nice target to strive for. I’m well-off to wealthy, but this could depend on some level of frugality. Also leery about selling off any assets to live.

  17. So I love Lark’s and Rocky’s HS description and claim them as my own as well. I would also add:

    God I was an idiot.

  18. Laura, you mean HM. Trust me, I’ve never been voted “most intelligent”.

  19. My HS description – Small class, wonderful madcap friends. Facebook and Whatsapp have helped us keep in touch.

  20. HM – your HS description is accurate for me as well. ;)

    I don’t like the metric because it doesn’t distinguish between retirement and non-retirement assets. Also, what is a “job”? Does it count the semi-passive income streams that come in no matter how much work you do?

  21. My parents have an airfryer and like it. I briefly thought about getting one, but they are so big!

  22. Oops! Sorry for the diss, HM!

    Honestly, for the folks with avatars, I mostly just glance at those instead of the names, and the two of you have ones that register very similarly when I am not paying attention. Plus you both come up with excellent pointed and pithy comments on a regular basis.

    So, yeah, apparently I’m blaming you for my own screwup. :-)

  23. Rocky (for real) Lark, Fred and anon describe my HS experience, as does

    Basketballers are cool; I’m stooopid.

  24. “What’s your five-word high school description?”

    Apparently rare among this esteemed group, “I actually liked high school.”

  25. “I’m well-off to wealthy, but this could depend on some level of frugality. Also leery about selling off any assets to live.”

    Right – do I have to be able to maintain my luxurious current spending or just live decently or just get by eating ramen? And maybe we could maintain our current lifestyle for 5 years, but then we’d have very little and still be in our 40’s – that doesn’t feel “ultra wealthy” to me. I’d be up sh*t creek, facing age discrimination and not getting any younger.

    Of course that’s all overthinking the whole thing. Point is – wealth is different from income. We are doing fine for our age, retirement goals, and desired lifestyle, IMO.

    High school:
    Just enough rebellion and academics.

  26. I found the author’s metric odd. I guess he means wage income when he says source of income. By his metric, since DH and I own our own business we are ultra wealthy. I think if that was true, I would have my pool already and wouldn’t be at work now. And I would have my horse, since I’m too tall for a pony.

  27. Take it to the limit.

    I had one great math teacher in four years of HS. He taught pre calc and he would play the Eagles, Take it to the Limit on his guitar. He was a professional juggler too. He was able to make math fun, and he was an amazing teacher.

    As for the stats, I sort of agree with the CNBC test. The reason I say sort of is that I can think of many retirees that are definitely not ultra wealthy.

  28. The author’s young:

    https://fm.cnbc.com/applications/cnbc.com/resources/img/editorial/2017/04/03/104381216-20170331-1877-2351.240×240.jpg?v=1491238272

    I was 24 when DW and I married, and we sold her house during the housing boom, we took away about $150,000 at closing and parked it in a 6% CD to wait for when we needed a down payment for another house.

    I remember logging into my accounts periodically, and like clockwork, every month that CD generated $750 that I didn’t have to do jack for. Of course I’d seen savings and checking accounts add $1.72 to the balance every month, but $750 was real money. I had never seen anything like it, and I thought “My God! That’s half my rent. I could conceivably get to a point where I have $300,000 in a CD, and live rent-free for the rest of my life!”

    It sounds crazy, but it had never seemed quite so attainable until then, even though I had a reasonably strong math education.

    So I can imagine why the author sees the option of not having to maintain a paycheck for FIVE YEARS!!! as indicative of ultra wealth.

  29. I pretty much agree with Lauren and Ivy. This author isn’t trying to split hairs at the upper end of wealth; the point is that wealth and income are different, and measuring wealth requires taking a different perspective.

    Lauren, our high school had one math teacher. He used a pointer stick to point things out on the board and to whack students. The one time he tried it on me, I caught it and got control, even though his hand was still on the other end. He never tried it on me again, but was merciless on some other kids. He died recently; I didn’t bother to read the obit.

  30. I actually agree with the author’s critical distinction (IMO) between income and wealth. My primary caveat would be that I would add in the ability to continue on *without having to significantly change your lifestyle*. I suspect most folks here could scrape by forever by selling the house and renting a hovel and using blankets instead of heat and all that; it’s the realization that you can do pretty much what you’re doing now, without needing either a paycheck or a massive change in lifestyle, that I think defines wealth.

    I also agree with Milo that he is young, and that colors his perspective. From that vantage point, when you started with nothing, having enough to be able to live for a couple of years without a job seems completely awesome and like all your problems will be solved. But of course then you get there and you realize that you are where Ivy is: sure, you can survive a layoff for a few years, but only by raiding your future to cover your present. So IMO, the real marker of wealth — at least, by the time you’ve hit my current advanced age — is the ability to maintain that satisfactory lifestyle indefinitely.

  31. My five words are: Crappy four years of life

    Which is why while DW is ranting that we need to move the kids to another school that is more academically rigorous (the audio book is just the latest in a line of some ridiculous things), my feeling is the kids are very happy there and have a lot of friends, and that’s more important to me. We can deal with the academic issues.

  32. “Which is why while DW is ranting that we need to move the kids to another school that is more academically rigorous … my feeling is the kids are very happy there and have a lot of friends, and that’s more important to me.”

    You’re articulating a sentiment that is criticized by some charter school opponents: parents should not have a choice because they often choose schools for the wrong reasons. According to these critics, parents are too stupid to choose the best academic schools. No, they choose the schools where their kids are happier, where they don’t suffer bullying, or physical attacks, or whatever.

  33. DD – I suggest trying to find balance, but it is hard because (1) its hard to push academics when your kids peers don’t really care and (2) its hard to make friends if you hate where you spend your day.

  34. “my feeling is the kids are very happy there and have a lot of friends, and that’s more important to me. “

    It is possible to be happy and have a lot of friends at a school that is academically rigorous.

    “do you see them dumbing down to fit in?”

    Great question, IMO.

    Fitting in has a lot to do with being happy and having friends at a school, and having academic peers can have a lot to do with fitting in.

    DS went to a less rigorous school for a bit. He was less happy there.

  35. “My primary caveat would be that I would add in the ability to continue on *without having to significantly change your lifestyle*. I suspect most folks here could scrape by forever by selling the house and renting a hovel and using blankets instead of heat and all that; it’s the realization that you can do pretty much what you’re doing now, without needing either a paycheck or a massive change in lifestyle, that I think defines wealth.”

    ITA.

    It’s important to me that my kids also know how to modify their lifestyles to adapt to their incomes and wealth.

  36. “maybe you need to talk to the teacher, as reading, e.g. an email, may not be his/her forte.”

    Touché.

  37. “It’s important to me that my kids also know how to modify their lifestyles to adapt to their incomes and wealth.”

    That can go both ways. Do you just mean that you want them to know how to live well on a modest income, or are you also saying that, if they have a household income of $800k, they should not be driving an old Camry? :)

  38. I am late to this. What do they mean by survive without a job? Do they mean just living off your emergency funds, or do they mean dipping into retirement and college savings? Those are really different things. I think not many people could go more than 6 months to a year on just emergency funds, in fact, most considerably less. But if you have saved for retirement, by definition those funds should last a long time

  39. I find the Instant Pot useful for some things: mainly single ingredients that can be used in later recipes. It is very good for beans and of course bean soup. Aside from that, I use it to make pork shoulder. For example, yesterday, since I was working from home, I put pork shoulder chunks in, along with garlic and ginger slices, a can of chicken broth, a fair amount of soy sauce, and some hefty dollops of doubanjiang. I set it to 35 minutes at pressure. Now, you need to understand what that really means : 20 minutes to come to pressure, 35 minutes at pressure, and then 20 minutes until I could do a quick release. So that is really 75 minutes. However, I was working from home anyway. Once I had released, I threw in a bunch of dried black mushrooms and simmered for 20 more minutes. I put that in the fridge, and then for dinner, I made chinese noodles. I threw spinach into each bowl, topped with the meat (which I nuked back to warmth, and then noodles). That made dinner prep fast.

    I also use it for collard greens and country ham.

    But all those crazy dishes that people make with it, such as pasta or stew or chili – I think it is faster and easier to do on the stove.

  40. The high school that both of my kids chose was very academically rigorous, but too competitive. DS1 did worked very hard, and was fairly “average” among his peer group. DS2 is more stressed about the pressure. It’s his choice to attend, and I will not force him to go elsewhere. However, academic rigor, IMHO, is not the be-all and end-all.

  41. “Then again, so is every single retired person, even the ones who are getting by solely on Social Security checks.”

    No, because if you take away their income, e.g., SS checks, not all of them can get by for 5 of more years.

    “Also, what is a “job”? Does it count the semi-passive income streams that come in no matter how much work you do?”

    There is agreement that his point is the distinction between wealth and income. In that light, I think he’s not talking about losing any income streams that derive from your wealth, whether they be interest payments, dividends, rent, etc.

    Where this becomes hazy is in cases like business owners, which could include folks like NoB. In those cases, I think you’d need to include whatever income would come from those businesses without your efforts, perhaps including a situation in which you’d hire someone to do what you do.

  42. “That can go both ways. Do you just mean that you want them to know how to live well on a modest income, or are you also saying that, if they have a household income of $800k, they should not be driving an old Camry? :)”

    My concern is primarily that they can scale down their lifestyles as necessary. But to a lesser extent, I do want them to be able to scale up, especially when they have kids, but preferably in ways that add to wealth (e.g., buying a bigger or better located house) or earning potential (e.g., good education, schools that will provide good network).

    Our income is nowhere near $800k, but DW did just stop driving the old Camry.

  43. What a load of bullshit. First off, haven’t we already debunked that whole 12 month emergency fund nonsense? And I’m sorry, if you have $1 million and can “survive” on $30k or $40k a year you’re not “ultra-wealth.”

  44. ‘Instapot, yay or nay?”

    A friend mentioned that the one thing he got on Black Friday was an instant pot. His mom has one, uses it a lot, and likes it.

    I thought about getting one then, but wasn’t sure what I’d use it for, so I didn’t get one. But shortly after that, some other friends mentioned being able to cook rice in 7 minutes, and that it’s great for brown rice as well. I’m now thinking of getting one because of that alone.

  45. To me, rich is the ability to live in luxury without working. Ultra wealthy would be the ability to live in obscene luxury without working.

  46. “The high school that both of my kids chose was very academically rigorous”

    IMO, it’s significant that the kids chose the school. I’ve mentioned before that we’ve heard of many kids at our kids’ school, especially those who transferred in for HS, who asked their parents to send them there.

    This suggests that one possible course of action for DD is to discuss this with his kids and see what they’d like to do, and how they feel about spending their school time listening to audio books.

  47. Rhett – How much would you estimate it costs annually to live in luxury and obscene luxury?

  48. some other friends mentioned being able to cook rice in 7 minutes

    They may be over selling it. That’s the time once it reaches pressure which, depending on how much rice you’re making, could be several minutes. Then you need to vent the pressure which may stake a couple 2-3 minutes.

  49. “Where this becomes hazy is in cases like business owners, which could include folks like NoB. In those cases, I think you’d need to include whatever income would come from those businesses without your efforts, perhaps including a situation in which you’d hire someone to do what you do.”

    Without my efforts, there is $0.00 that comes in from my business. I am my business. I have no desire to hire someone to do what I do, since I don’t want to be an employer for whole bunch of reasons. When I’m done, the business is done.

  50. Rhett – How much would you estimate it costs annually to live in luxury and obscene luxury?

    Luxury? 400k so say $10m in non primary home assets. Obscene luxury would be yacht and private jet money so say staring at $4 million a year or $100 million. But that would be the very most entry level definition of obscene.

  51. NoB, does your business not have any sale value? I’ve heard of solo practitioners selling their businesses when they retire.

  52. “Isn’t obscene difficult to define, but easy to tell when you see it?”

    No, that’s porn.

  53. Hip Pressure Cooking says says for white long grain rice, 3 minutes at pressure, plus 10 more minutes before release. But that does not count the time coming to pressure. In the quantity of rice I make, it would be 3 cups to 4.5 cups of water, so I would expect about 15 minutes to come to pressure. On the stove, it takes the time to heat the water, about 10 minutes, plus 18 minutes at simmer. So not much difference. I have never tried rice in the pressure cooker, except for one experiment with risotto ( came out fine but everyone in my family hated it) because it is so easy to make on the stove.

  54. Instant Pot – I have one, I use it, but have not tried all the things you see people doing on the facebook pages. I like it for slow cooking things, for hard boiled eggs, and as MM said, to quickly cook something to go in something else. I don’t think pressure cooking always allows the flavors to work their way through. Some people swear by the spaghetti, even putting in raw noodles.

  55. Where this becomes hazy is in cases like business owners, which could include folks like NoB.

    It’s even more complicated than that. A family business, that is mostly run by hired staff, may generate $3m a year in income. But it may only be “worth” $10m due to the risk premium a buyer would require. Not to mention the fact that it’s only worth anything if the heirs agree to sell so each share, on its own, is almost worthless.

  56. I’m reminded of “Are you telling me that boiling water soaks into a *grit* faster on your stove than anywhere else on the face of the Earth? Were these magic grits? I mean, did you buy them from the same guy who sold Jack his beanstalk beans?”

  57. ” A family business, that is mostly run by hired staff, may generate $3m a year in income. But it may only be “worth” $10m due to the risk premium a buyer would require. ”

    In the context of today’s discussion, if that business ownership is shared equally by, say, 6 sibs/cousins, they each bring in $500k/year, which makes them all wealthy.

    With that level of income you’d need to be, IMO, rather profligate to not accumulate wealth quickly. Or have multiple kids in college.

  58. “Some people swear by the spaghetti, even putting in raw noodles.”

    I look at a FB group for the instant pot, to get ideas or information, and see lots of photos of instant pot spaghetti. It looks like the stuff we used to get in my grade school cafeteria, very, very wet and soft looking noodles. I tend to be a more al dente kind of person, so I will skip the instant pot for my pasta.

  59. Rhett, I have a friend who, until the last few months, satisfied your criteria for obscene wealth. He doesn’t have a jet, but at least used to have access to one for his personal use. He might still. He wouldn’t be caught dead on a yacht. The best I can do is get him on a fishing charter.

    Well, about 3 months ago he retired. Now he has always been fairly frugal, but without that millions of earned income each year, he considers himself a pensioner.

    Okay, I guess. I wish that I were his kid!, but then again I remember Prince Charles. All expectation but no reward.

  60. I was away from this all day, but $400K wouldn’t even be enough to pay federal, state and property taxes in some communities in the US. I agree with the 10m in assets in addition to property, but it takes a lot more than $400K to live in a luxury community.

    Even in a “cheaper” state like Florida, the costs to live in places like Naples or Palm Beach would be higher than $400K.

  61. For hard cooked eggs, how long do you do them? I like my hard boiled eggs very undercooked. My stove method is to put room temp eggs in a pan, just covered with water, bring to a boil, and then take them off the heat and let them sit for 10 minutes before running through cold water. This gives me eggs with a creamy interior instead of a hard one. Can I get that in an IP? I have a lot of eggs in the house right now because someone overbought – I could sacrifice some for a test.

  62. “I like my hard boiled eggs very undercooked. ”

    Doesn’t that mean they are soft boiled eggs?

  63. MM, 5 minutes on the steam setting (you can pile the eggs on the steam rack) and then release the valve gives a center that’s somewhere between creamy and still a little runny – jellyish.

  64. “bring to a boil, and then take them off the heat and let them sit for 10 minutes before running through cold water. ”

    I was thinking that this is probably what we do, and the eggs are definitely hard boiled all the way through. But maybe the difference is we’re talking about a pot of water, and you said just a pan, so there’s a lot less surrounding heat available for the cooking.

    Also, I don’t always know what qualifies as a “boil.” Quite a bit of bubbles, or is that just gas being forced out of solution, or rolling boil?

  65. We use Mooshi’s method and get fully hard boiled eggs, as well. We use cold eggs, get them to a rolling boil, then cover pot/, urn off stove.

  66. Also, if you’re using a pot of water, the time to reach boiling temperature is proportionally longer, so it’s that much more time that they’re cooking on the up-curve, 150, 155, 160, etc.

  67. “the time to reach boiling temperature is proportionally longer,”

    This suggests how well cooked the eggs get depends on the stove and how quickly the water reaching boiling temperature.

    Using a pan vs. a pot, for example, could facilitate the use of a larger burner, and thus faster heating of water. Or an inductive stove might heat the water faster than a resistive electric stove.

  68. counter-intuitively, following this recipe means that a lower-powered stove will give you more-thoroughly cooked eggs.

  69. I am talking about hard boiled eggs, just not the very dry ones that a lot of recipes out there will give you. Soft boiled eggs cook for a lot less time. And yes, I don’t use that much water. The pan should be small enough to just fit the eggs, and the water should just cover. And the pan goes OFF the burner when it comes to the boil, so no residual heat from the burner.

  70. With that level of income you’d need to be, IMO, rather profligate to not accumulate wealth quickly

    You own a business that’s throwing off $3 million a year – why isn’t that a form of wealth? You seem to have a very narrow definition.

  71. I was away from this all day, but $400K wouldn’t even be enough to pay federal, state and property taxes in some communities in the US

    Huh? Wouldn’t be enough to pay federal or state taxes?

  72. “You own a business that’s throwing off $3 million a year – why isn’t that a form of wealth? You seem to have a very narrow definition.”

    I didn’t say that isn’t a form of wealth. Here’s what I wrote:

    “In the context of today’s discussion, if that business ownership is shared equally by, say, 6 sibs/cousins, they each bring in $500k/year, which makes them all wealthy.”

    OTOH, you were the one who wrote about it:

    “But it may only be “worth” $10m due to the risk premium a buyer would require. Not to mention the fact that it’s only worth anything if the heirs agree to sell so each share, on its own, is almost worthless.”

    I’ll also point out that it’s possible for people of all wealth levels to accumulate additional wealth if they have sufficient income. So the owners of that $3M/year family business should, IMO, be able to accumulate additional wealth quickly. Left unsaid was that it shouldn’t take long to accumulate enough additional wealth that they’d be wealthy even without that family business.

  73. Finn,

    Ah, I see. Then I guess the question would be, why should the goal of the already wealthy be to accumulate more wealth? I assume your answer would be divisificarion?

  74. While the article has its shortcomings, e.g. as pointed out by LfB and Milo, I like that it addresses a peeve of mine, the common conflation of income and wealth.

    “What do they mean by survive without a job? Do they mean just living off your emergency funds, or do they mean dipping into retirement and college savings? Those are really different things.”

    Taking into account LfB’s caveat, I think we’re looking at not dipping into retirement savings, since that would compromise your lifestyle in retirement. Of course, that conveniently ignores the possible reduction of retirement lifestyle due to not contributing to your retirement accounts.

    College savings is a bit different, because more financial aid is available to those without college savings, another peeve of mine.

  75. Mooshi – You perfectly described how I cook and like my hard boiled eggs. Not over cooked and maybe still a bit orange in the center, not yellow. I think I learned that method from Cooks Illustrated.

    High school: small, active, lonely, fun, next

  76. MM – was off doing other things. I usually do 6 eggs on the trivet/steamer thing, plus 1 cup water at a time as I am the only one who eats them. 5 min manual pressure, 5 min natural release, 5 min ice bath. Might be a tad harder cooked than you like. You may have to experiment with 4/4/4

  77. Denver, how much do the kids hate it, and do you see them dumbing down to fit in?

    The kids love it. DS needs to push himself a bit more. DD is thrilled she got straight As last semester.

    Denver – Was/is DW an engineer like you were?

    Not at all. She hates math and is a completely non-logical thinker.

    It is possible to be happy and have a lot of friends at a school that is academically rigorous.

    Of course it is. But it’s also very possible to change schools, not be able to make friends, and be very unhappy.

    However, academic rigor, IMHO, is not the be-all and end-all.

    I agree, although I wouldn’t mind a bit more rigor. Of course part of it is the kids’ reluctance to take harder classes. But DS did skip ahead to precalc this year and DD skipped geometry and is in Algebra 2. We’ve told them they don’t have a choice next year.

    This suggests that one possible course of action for DD is to discuss this with his kids and see what they’d like to do, and how they feel about spending their school time listening to audio books.

    It’s a frequent dinner table topic and the kids are very clear they do not want to change schools.

  78. For example, yesterday, since I was working from home, I put pork shoulder chunks in, along with garlic and ginger slices, a can of chicken broth, a fair amount of soy sauce, and some hefty dollops of doubanjiang. I set it to 35 minutes at pressure. Now, you need to understand what that really means : 20 minutes to come to pressure, 35 minutes at pressure, and then 20 minutes until I could do a quick release.

    It sounds like you’re putting too much liquid in, which is why it takes so long to come to pressure. You only need about a cup. My experience is unless you use really large chunks of meat or it’s starting from frozen, you only need about 15-20 minutes at pressure. And then you can release the pressure right away, you just need to open the vent slowly, not flip it fully open.

  79. DD, some other options you might consider if your kids will stay in the same HS:

    -Taking the most rigorous courses offered, like what they’re doing with math, but also with other courses. Self-study during summers could further facilitate this.

    -Online courses. Perhaps more rigorous courses are available online, and they could take a light load in school to free up time for online rigor.

    -Community college. More rigorous courses are probably available there, e.g. if they finish the hardest math course prior to Sr. year. Summers might also be a good time for this option.

  80. -Taking the most rigorous courses offered, like what they’re doing with math, but also with other courses. Self-study during summers could further facilitate this.

    Yes, we are going to get them to take harder classes next year. Self-study is never going to happen. They don’t have the motivation and I don’t see any reason to force it.

    -Online courses. Perhaps more rigorous courses are available online, and they could take a light load in school to free up time for online rigor.

    Also not going to happen.

    -Community college. More rigorous courses are probably available there, e.g. if they finish the hardest math course prior to Sr. year. Summers might also be a good time for this option.

    The school has that option for juniors and seniors and we plan to take advantage of it.

  81. To SM regarding her thermostat. The setting you want is called something like circulate or refresh or fresh air. I have it on mine. It turns on the fan to circulate the air x min per hour no matter whether the temp setting causes heating cooling or nothing at all. Avoids the stale air issue. Setting it on fan is fan only no heat or cool.

  82. Meme, thanks! Fan only, no heat or cool is what I wanted. I’ll look for a circulate or refresh option. If it doesn’t exist on this $50 device, I’ll have to figure out how to manually control only the fan. Doing that wouldn’t kill me. I just don’t want to have to notice when it’s time to switch from heat to cool and back. One benefit of today’s escapades is that I actually read the setup section of the instruction booklet. I learned there were several steps that the party with better eyes elected to skip over when we did it together the other day.

    Denver, so your daughter was just letting off steam about how stupid this English class is? Fair enough. Is this the course you were frustrated about a few months ago? I agree that social connections are important (even though, by the sound of it, only one or two people here had them), but if it gets to the point that they are clinging to their friends even though they hate their classes (which I don’t think is the case now), then it might be time to talk to them about not operating on the basis of fear.

  83. I think I mentioned that I was surprised to find a fair number of parents who had sharpened their #2 pencils and were evaluating various high schools for “fit for their kid”. I wonder if this is because they had negative high school experiences themselves.
    The other thing, I discovered was moving the kids in 6th grade to an IB magnet so they would be grandfathered in for the high school IB magnet program.

  84. Since I woke up at 4 am EST today, I’ll file the Mediterranean trip report while you all are still asleep.

    It goes without saying that this trip was a success, if for no other reason than the fact that we spent the past two weeks not in New England but at 55 degrees Fahrenheit with only a couple of hours of rain total. We are in process of learning exactly how much DH can handle, even in this more leisurely mode of travel. He needs rest days, and assisted transport in the big airports, and we should always book an extra night on arrival (probably can save on airfare – won’t need economy plus in that case). He got sick for a couple of days, bad enough that we used the ship’s doctor, but everything was very professional, the doc knew the right antibiotic to give him just by looking over his extensive med list, and the cruise ship refunded the premium tours that he missed because he was sick and for the one day I was nursemaid. We also figured out that we are lightweights who can’t make the Premium Spirits package pay – we will just pay by the drink in the future if we don’t want the house tipple.

    No transportation issues, cats are fine, and it was great to come home to a freshly cleaned house. My favorite piece of luggage was the “boarder bag” – a small carryon with wheels that I used to replace my travel backpack/duffel. I got on the scale this AM and the damage was only 3 lbs, with no particular restraint employed for two weeks. Biggest open issue on our return is figuring out why the Miata wouldn’t start during the snowstorm when DD tried to move it – probably dead battery, but it is new – so anything is under warranty. And why a local doctor (and my health portal) sent me a note that I have a procedure scheduled in ten days (I don’t) – one of the downsides of lacking an unusual name.

    One of the points of doing a packaged vacation with multiple stops is to find places to which you want to return for an in depth trip. There was no question that Moorish Spain with a ferry over to Sardinia would be my choice. I loved the Bronze Age ruins and overall feel of Sardinia, and our day in Valencia was way too short. We went to the modern city of science with its great architecture and toured the aquarium. Then we walked the streets and sampled tapas and local delicacies. My favorite stop in Italy was Tarquina/Etruscan tombs and museum (Iron Age). We booked a very expensive private car tour of Florence and it was worth it. The least enjoyable section of the tour was the French Riviera. It was gorgeous, don’t get me wrong, but just didn’t float my boat. Those stops were during the first week and the ship was filled with family groups (no kids under 16 are allowed, but lots of slightly older families) on Christmas vacations, so that there was much less of an opportunity for meeting other retired couples, and the program did not have many ship board activities or entertainment options. Those groups got off in Rome after New Year’s to go back to work.

    I have a trip with DD2 in March, and DH and I have put money down on three cruises in 2018 (Hawai’i), 2019 (Moselle, Rhine and Swiss alps by train) and 2020 (Buenos Aires to Santiago around Cape Horn). The long times between are partly an attempt to keep to a travel budget (yes we do have a generous budget, but not a “wealthy” one) , and partly a question of finding short and sweet trips that give me enough of a bang for the buck and don’t wear him out.

  85. Louise – #2 pencil sharpener here! I did it because I was in a high school that was a bad fit and moved to one that was a good fit. I know how much difference that made in my grades, my social group, and my success in college.

    Other reasons included:The school we are zoned for has been on a downhill slide for a number of years. In the past couple, it has started to trend back up, but still has a long way to go to get back to where it was when we first moved into this house. My oldest wanted and needed a school with high academic rigor, which when we made her high school choice didn’t exist in our district and no neighboring districts allowed transfers. Now, the schools/districts in our area that offer magnet programs (IB/Fine Arts/Math&Science) are well publicized, but competitive to transfer into. My youngest was very interested in IB, but it is not offered in our district, but a school offering it in a neighboring district allows out-of-district transfers.

  86. Meme — Sounds wonderful! I think rest days are good to include for almost any age and trip, but often non-retired travelers feel the need to schedule in as much as possible because of time constraints. What boarder bag did you like? I just looked at a small travel backpack after getting the idea from here.

  87. Yesterday I kept trying to think of a better #MyHighSchoolYearsIn5Words, but somehow this kept coming up in my head: Got a car junior year

  88. I bought a three pack of discontinued lightweight Samsonite luggage from Bed n bath online – a US large carry on for DH to replace his last similar bag (12 years old) , the boarder bag, and a 25 inch solely for cruises. Free shipping, coupons, 200 ish dollars for all three. They have a new version of that line, but i checked today and they are sold out of the discontinued boarder bag.

    A boarder bag resembles a slightly larger version of those clumsy wheeled computer bags that replaced briefcases 20 years ago when getting a laptop made you special at work and you carried files and the heavy heavy laptop and a huge cord with adapters and sometimes modems and other peripherals everywhere you went. But this is a small suitcase, basically. It has three zipper compartments a large central one that zips open fully if you want for clothes and a narrower vertical open compartment for shoes, toiletries, electronics what ever, plus a third even narrower organizer/file compartment and an outside zip pocket large enough to stuff in a kindle or a not too full ziploc bag of liquids. You can lock the main compartment with a basic TSA lock.

    Just google boarder bag. There are dozens of options at every price point. The fact that it had so many compartments meant that I could stuff things in and out in the airport, grab what I needed for the fligh. It fits easily into the overhead compartment. It is rigid enough for my camera equipment, and you don’t worry if the cab driver tosses it into the trunk with other luggage or if a porter sticks it on a cart to go up to your room.. I don’t like the look a backpack unless I am going on a camping/adventure trip, and I worry about the contents.

  89. Sounds like a well enjoyed trip Meme. I love hearing about your travels because they are very similar to how my parents travel – including the expensive personal tours that are worth every penny. In Rome and Florence their tour included travel by golf cart to navigate the narrow paths, which minimized their walking.

  90. Meme, do you mind sharing which cruise line and/or travel group you booked with?

  91. That sounds like a great trip. I went to Tarquinia some years ago and loved it. I think we did it as a day trip from Rome. My best friend always goes to the French Riviera at Christmas. Her husband has family there.

  92. RMS – I went on Viking Ocean. I am happy with them so far. By putting money down on 2020 cruise I can pick the stateroom I want, the same one we have had for two prior vacations. Here is the stateroom design, and the sofa area is worth the money. Double sinks in the bathroom. Laundry service included. You also get a lot of current cruise and future cruise bennies for booking the next cruise on board.

    This lounge is right outside the door. There is another level with light meals and a bar downstairs.

    We discovered we prefer the rhythm of a true seagoing voyage with sea days in between. We will try out the river cruise in 2019 and see whether the daily stops and outings (lots of walking required in Europe) are too much for DH. The Mediterranean cruise is a hybrid of sorts – daily stops, most of the sailing at night.

    I am still looking at the company S&M’s parents used in the past – Tauck – for one particular Danube itinerary. If we find European river cruising isn’t too structured, we may try them too.

  93. We don’t really have a choice but to evaluate HS just like ES because our zoned schools are not an option. The HS zones are pretty wide here. Our zoned HS has a serious gang problem which is why I say it is not an option, not because it is a 7 on Great Schools. So – yes – it is for “fit” but if we are going to have to actively find a school, then why wouldn’t “fit” be part of the equation?

    So, we will go through the whole process again of testing and applying to many schools, hoping to get one that is a decent fit. Really – we will start that for middle school because the most convenient school that is also a great school has a MS program where you can then stay for 6 years. That would be fantastic in many ways – no private school tuition, walkable location from our house (even if we then moved within the neighborhood – which we like), entering with a smaller class (easier transition from a smaller ES), and stability for MS/HS.

    @Meme – Thanks for the update. Sounds great – and what great timing to miss the worst of the weather!

  94. Thanks for sharing the information and highlights about your cruise. It looks wonderful and I’m glad you had a nice time.

    This winter is already getting to me and I’m really glad that we are going to Florida in Feb.

  95. Costco has a bag that seems quite similar to what Mémé got, for $29.99. The configuration is a bit different, and it’s expandable.

  96. Meme, Tauck river cruises are very scheduled. I don’t think there is more than a few hours on your own during an entire ten-day trip, unless you decide to skip some parts. After a morning tour and activity in a city, you’ll have maybe two hours to get lunch on your own some days, so I guess being a quick eater would be another way to have more time to find your own things to do. They don’t have general itineraries on their website, but if you go to a trip in the near future that runs the same route you want to do, you can look up the itinerary with dates and times. There doesn’t seem to be much variation at all.

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