Tuesday open thread

Open thread all day today.

Upcoming topics:

Wednesday  —  National parks in crisis (Denver Dad)
Thursday  —  Parents in the school lunchroom? (Swim)
Friday  —  You Must Buy… (Louise)
Sunday —  Politics open thread
Monday  —  Christmas Eve open thread


80 thoughts on “Tuesday open thread

  1. Are holiday travel plans going smoothly? Kids home from college, traveling to grandma’s, Caribbean escape, etc?

  2. My inbox is full of crazy good airline deals, primarily from Delta and Jetblue. Delta is doing things like reducing mileage award requirements and Jetblue has super low one-way fares to NYC and Boston. I’m pretty annoyed that I’ve already booked air for our 2019 trips. I don’t remember this being a thing in previous years. Is this usually a time of year that airfare goes on sale?

  3. Lark – are you allowed to change the flight without a fee? Or would the fee be less than the money saved by changing? Southwest allows you to change flights without a fee. You just pay the fare difference, or you get a credit to use within one calendar year from the time of the first flight purchase.

    My whole house is getting sick and we are starting our holiday travels on Saturday. My youngest started this mess, and then I came back from my conference so that didn’t help (damn airplanes!). Now I think my oldest is starting to get sick. I’m going home early (in like 15 minutes) to sleep and kick some of this cold.

  4. Lark – are you allowed to change the flight without a fee? Or would the fee be less than the money saved by changing?

    That’s a good idea, but probably not worth screwing something up. There are 6 of us going on both trips (us + my parents) and we have seats all together. I think not worth the risk. But next year I’ll definitely wait until this time of year to book air for 2020. I just don’t remember this being a thing, but perhaps I wasn’t aware in the past.

  5. July – DS2 + girlfriend got here Sunday afternoon; she goes to her parents on Thursday. I’m driving to get DS3 from school after work today; his last final is this afternoon. We’ll drive home tomorrow.

    Lark – my recollection is the flight deals come/came out right after New Years for travel thru Marchish. I have not seen anything but (1) we don’t fly much and (2) we aren’t going anywhere at least until May: DW not getting around too well now, new hip installation 5 wks from now, then legitimately at least 2 months till she can travel comfortably based on my experience. By then it’s when I’m really busy at work, thru mid-May.

    We’re looking at doing an all-5-of-us Alaska cruise/land vacation, ~2 weeks, in 2020, so sticking around and setting aside the $ for that is fine with me.

  6. We are starting to talk 2019 travel plans. I have an open invitation with a friend in MI, and I want to go. Plus, BIL is separating from the navy soon and they are moving. Once settled, we want to come visit because we never got to CA to see them as a family. (I just saw nephews and SIL for a day last week). I get another week vacation this year so I’m looking for ways to use it up! Ha!

    I do have enough FF points to fly one of us round-trip if we go see BIL and SIL this summer. That’s a plus!

  7. My brain is in holiday mode, but I really need to buckle down and finish up some things at work before being out for the break. I’ll be off for 2 full weeks – we shut down Xmas Eve – NYD, and then I’m tacking some time on the ends. We will drive to visit my parents for a few days of that, but besides that we will be around town. I plan to catch up on Netflix and reading, have a lot of fires in the fireplace with the Xmas tree lit & a nice glass of wine, and enjoy time with extended family.

    I wish I was planning a Caribbean getaway though! We generally take our annual beach trip in February, once the cold & snow has really gotten oppressive. We aren’t even going to have a White Christmas this year, if predictions hold. high 30’s and drizzle just isn’t the same kind of mood as softly floating snowflakes. I can’t tell if it is truly changes in weather patterns or just rosy memories that make me think that White Christmases were more the norm when I was growing up than they are now.

  8. We are talking SoCal for spring break this year. Dodger Stadium, dipping toes at least into the Pacific Ocean (although it will not be swimming temp, IIRC), hiking in the hills, and the Nixon Library are all on the agenda. I am very overwhelmed looking at hotels/areas to stay though. The main thing is that I don’t want to have to drive to Dodger Stadium, and that some of the things we are interested in are far apart (e.g., the beach and the Nixon library). When I used to travel there for work frequently, I was always stuck way out in Ontario or other less than tourist-friendly areas, so I don’t have a good sense.

  9. Lark, DH is really annoyed that the flights to Indiana have come way down. Still not worth the $200 change fee and the hassle, though.

  10. I am planning (fingers crossed) on not coming into the office at all between this Thursday and January 3. I will still be working but hopefully not as much! We have some year-end projects (of course) that we are trying to push over the line, so those are top of mind right now.

    Not traveling for Xmas, we are going to DH’s parents’ the weekend afterwards for Xmas/#2’s birthday celebration. DH’s cousin (like a young uncle to the kids) is coming over for Xmas starting this weekend. I need to make the menu for the Xmas Eve (soups) and Xmas dinners, and I haven’t even made any babka yet so need to get on that.

    Can I wait until Jan 1-2 to get flights from BOS-ATL in January, or do I need to get those now? We are traveling MLK weekend. No big trips planned in 2019.

  11. I’m really busy at work. There are lots of people who want to get documents signed by the end of the year (a psychological thing for them; not a legal necessity). Then there are the people who are going to Florida for a few months right after the holidays who want to get meetings in before they go. Sadly, I have also had five women come to me in the past six weeks who lost their respective husbands, and need help settling their estates. It’s all good, interesting work, but I’m feeling a little frazzled, and wish I could be getting into holiday mode more than I am.

  12. We did a Carribean Trip for the holidays last year. It was great. This year we will be home. We have not been at home for Christmas the past two years, so this year staying home is welcome. Work hasn’t slowed down and I am working some next week. DS has exams in January. We will probably do a day trip or so.
    Our next travel will for Spring Break. I am thinking Las Vegas – never been there.

  13. Ivy, when is your spring break that you can go to a Dodgers game? We’re going to spring training for ours.

    I might have found a replacement for Quicken finally Moneyspire. It imports data from Quicken so I don’t have to start fresh, and can import QFX and OFX files. It has a direct download as well, but I haven’t tried to set that up yet.The one thing it seems to be missing is the ability to set up loan payments that automatically allocate the payment between principal and interest, it seems like you have to do that manually. In Quicken it doesn’t completely match the banks’ splits, but it’s close enough for my purposes.

    On our trip planning, we’re going to go to Port Stephens instead of Canberra. I found a place that does snorkeling tours in the winter, and a really fun looking ATV tour over the sand dunes. I still haven’t booked the last flight leg we need from SYD-AKL.

    I bought travel insurance yesterday. I had no idea that if you buy it too far after you make your initial reservation (10 or 21 days depending on the policy) that you lose some coverage. Fortunately it was less than 21 days. I got one with some good auto coverage as well, so that will save a few bucks on the rental cars. I don’t trust my insurance or the credit card coverage on foreign rentals. I could be completely wrong on that, though.

  14. In my family we would say that she died so young. DH would say that she lived a long life.

  15. I am doing Christmas lite this year. Between the RA and my back in bad shape I’m on some heavy duty medication that makes me loopy with balance issues. My husband put the tree up and brought up my tub of ornaments. After looking at the tub for 2 weeks, I decided I just can’t do it this year, I’m just going with the lighted tree and hanging candy canes from the branches. I am not using my Spode Christmas china for breakfast nor Lenox for dinner all of
    which have to be hand washed and dried. I am also not using any crystal for the same reason.
    I am not baking all the different cookies, cinnamon pecans and shortbread. I have tons of decorations that I am not putting out. We are not doing the trains this year so we don’t have to do the villages.

    My husband is doing a filet on the grill. My one daughter is doing the dressing, sweet potato casserole on the 24th. Then on the 25th she will help with the prep work for the other dishes.

    My other daughter is in charge of dessert. She wants to do a Red Velvet cake from a 70 plus year old family recipe.

    My son is in charge of mac and cheese.

    Though I am disappointed not to do my regular Christmas, once I made the decision I feel like s weight has been lifted.

    A Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year to us all!

  16. We are supposed to go to NJ to snag DS1 on Thursday night but it turns out DD has a track meeting which means she will be arriving home late on a bus. I don’t like to drive in Newark, so I want my DH to drive but I want to go to make sure DS1 doesn’t forget anything. On the other hand, I hate the idea of DD having to walk home in the dark and cold. She is just 12. I may ask the middle kid to go meet the bus and walk home with her.

  17. “Though I am disappointed not to do my regular Christmas, once I made the decision I feel like s weight has been lifted.”

    Many people get too frazzled about certain preparations, so I think you have a good attitude. I only put up my tree and not other decorations, and it felt like the right thing. I am enjoying the holidays more when I streamline some activities, but I do get pushed by others to do more. (I had missed that you were diagnosed with RA and I’m sorry to hear about your difficulties. I hope it gets better.) I’m off to see a holiday concert tonight!

  18. Old Mom, I’m sorry about your health issues. But glad you are feeling better with your decision to scale things back.

  19. Old Mom, I hope you can relax and enjoy the holidays even though it will be slightly different.

    Mooshi – is there any other parent that will meet the bus that can drop your DD at your house on their way home? I am guessing that she must know someone on that team???? The weather looks awful for Friday so it will be much easier if your son is already home.

    I am so sick of this rain, and the weather folks keep bragging about the rainfalls totals for NY and top ten annual etc etc. There is so much excess water around that there is flooding even on clear days like today. The problem is that it is so cold that there is a lot of ice around on some of the major roads. The pot holes are already starting and it is ugly considering that it is just due to all of this run off from the an excessive amount of rain in 2018.

    We did not have plans to go away, but we will spend most of next week in the city if my step MIL passes some tests this week for the clinical trial. She should find out today, but she has to check in on Christmas if she is approved. She will stay for five days, and the drug company gives them some money for a hotel so my FIL can stay in the city with her. The rate for a Marriott Courtyard jumps from about $275 to $500+ for the Christmas week even though it isn’t really near midtown because the hospital is not he upper east side. I think they reimburse about $300 a night so is is manageable.

  20. @DD – Spring Break is in April, so the real season will have started.

    @Old Mom – It sounds like a lovely holiday even if not quite what you usually do.

  21. Rhode, get well soon!

    Louise, I can’t stand Jan exams. Yes, doing them in Dec makes for a cute pressure before the break, but exams in Jan means they never get a break from the pressure. Yelch.

    We’re going for a low-key Christmas this year. We’ve already eaten all the gingerbread cookies, and I haven’t baked the oatmeal trillbeys or made the date spread for them, or the double chocolate mint brownies or almond stars. The oatmeal ginger cookies with raspberry jam turned out well, but DS won’t eat even the ones I left jam out of for him. What are the rest of you baking?

    Old Mom, have a good Christmas!

    Fred, that sounds like a nice time for you and just DS3 to catch up.

  22. DD, do you have experience driving cars on the left side of the road? It is even more challenging in NZ and Australia because they love to use rotaries. My DH got so used to driving on the left that it took about a week for him to stop being in the wrong lane when we got back to the US. The brain quickly starts to develop new patterns when you drive on the left. I hope you will have time to visit Daintree if you are going to Port Douglas.

  23. Lauren, I did it in England about 20 years ago. The main problem I had was drifting toward the curb.

  24. Lauren, we are going to Port Stephens, not Port Douglas. It’s about 3 hours north of Sydney.

  25. Interesting math from the linked to RMS’ post:

    “Last year, almost 27 (26.7) million people took a cruise holiday, and there were nine overboard incidents involving passengers. This equates to about one incident per seven million passengers,”

  26. Was sort of hoping we would be on a cruise this Christmas. We did that last year and it was nice to be away for part of the holiday. As we were going to be away and getting new floors we did no decorating. Well, now I am looking for and at things and thinking where is X and why is Z in this box. On the other hand, I have purged stuff I didn’t think I’d be able to.

    DD#1 comes home on Saturday. I am very excited to see her!

  27. Also from RMS’ article, which puts another spin on the math:

    That a cruise passenger’s statistical likelihood of dying as a result of an MOB is very low cannot be denied. But Michael Lloyd—a former sea captain with 50 years at sea, and now a marine-safety consultant, victims’ advocate, and cruise industry critic—posited a useful thought experiment. He asked me, as a journalist covering the travel industry, to imagine what would happen if, every month, one to two people died on an airplane for a predictable operational reason, such as sustaining a traumatic head injury during turbulence due to failure to wear a seatbelt. It’s a scenario I find impossible to imagine, after years of flight-safety demonstrations, seatbelt checks, and back-of-the-seat cards.

    “The airlines have got it absolutely right,” Lloyd says. “There is a clear chain of command that passengers follow, so safety measures are obeyed. Aircraft rarely ditch into the water and yet, the planes still carry life jackets and they still demonstrate them every time you get on a plane. That’s down to a difference in attitude towards safety and shows just how far the marine industry is still behind.”

  28. Denver – when someone gets drunk and jumps/falls off their resort balcony, I could be wrong, but I don’t recall articles and commentary discussing whether commercial buildings should have fully enclosed balconies (like outdoor cages).

    But a few people do the same thing (or commit suicide) on a cruise ship, and we treat the statistics as though we’re all equally at risk when we step onboard.

    The national parks have people falling to their deaths periodically, I would guess at a higher per-capita rate than cruise ships.

    Don’t climb on the railing.

  29. alerts—and the likely false positives that would crop up in any such automated system—would also force ships to launch more search-and-rescue missions, potentially disrupting itineraries for thousands of paying passengers,

    Why would it delay the cruise ship? I know nothing about this, but I’m going to guess that in a search-and-rescue operation, a boat more easily maneuverable than a cruise ship could do a better job. Why not keep a cigarette boat, or whatever is most useful, on each cruise ship, to be used immediately in any such incident?

    Of course, doing that enters into the conundrum mentioned towards the end, that any safety system is an admission that these things aren’t unusual. But if it is effective, isn’t it worth the initial reputation hit?

  30. Drunks sitting on the railing–yeah, I do think they deserve a search-and-rescue effort. But who I’m more concerned about are the employees who are apparently a quarter of the people who die this way. They aren’t from countries with the muscle that the USA has, so their cases, and their families, who probably counted on their wages, are probably given even less attention than the ones described in the article.

    And yes, there are safety features in place on hotel balconies, begining with very simple “don’t sit on the railing” signs. Plenty of Floridians thought the family whose toddler was chomped by a gator at WDW were complete idiots to let the kid wade in that pond, because of the obvious danger. But within a month of that kid’s death, there were signs on beaches all around the parks with pictogram alligators, telling people to stay out of the water.

  31. That is an interesting idea, SM. Just thinking off the top of my head, a cigarette boat can usually not handle the seas of the open ocean. So you need something a little more sturdy and bigger, but also fast enough that it can conduct a search and rescue operation for several hours, then still catch up to a cruise ship that’s been moving away at 23 knots ever since. That’s a tall order. Ideally you would need thermal imaging. And if you’re not going to stop the ship at all, it needs to be watched very quickly.

    A helicopter would probably be better. But then you need a flight crew. And not just one crew, but several so they can be on call at any point in time.

    It’s reasonable to say that all of this is worth neither of the expense nor the added risk of the rescuersof the rescuers chasing false alarms.

  32. There were signs posted, yes. And some nautical themed roping in keeping with the character of the resort. But Disney did not erect fencing.

    Not that I blame the family of that boy in any way.

  33. “@Old Mom – It sounds like a lovely holiday even if not quite what you usually do.”

    Yes, it does.
    Maybe you will actually enjoy the new holiday traditions!

  34. In comparing cruises to flights, one might consider the duration. Average domestic flight, 2 hours? Average cruise 120 hours? I bet the statistics for injury and such look more similar when you compare them per hour of travel. Certainly cruise ships would be far safer if you stay seatbelted in whenever the boat was in motion.

  35. The alcohol question in the article parallels something that comes up in my work place online chatter. There is often heated debate about drunk patients who refuse care and want to leave. The standard line from so many is that they cannot make decisions, therefore we must restrain them until they are sober. What if they go get in a car and drive? What if they vomit at home, aspirate and die? What if they punch the uber driver in the face? What if they wander into traffic and get run over??* The alternative (and less popular) opinion is that it is not illegal to be drunk, you cannot imprison someone in an ER simply because they have been drinking, nor can you violate their body with unwanted tests and procedures.

    It seems like we don’t want to hold drunk people responsible for their actions in so many different arenas. However, if I go home, down a couple of bottle of wine when I get off shift tomorrow morning, then drive my kids to school and take out a bus stop worth of cherubs, I will be considered solely at fault. At what point do bad decisions while drinking stop being the responsibility of the drinker?

    *In NY, an ER discharged a clearly drunk patient that wanted to leave. He got hit by a car and is now quadriplegic. He sued the ER and lost. This has become practice changing across the country.

  36. Certainly an interesting question, but Ada’s comment reminds me of:

    Mr. Burns: Ironic, isn’t it, Smithers? This anonymous clan of slack-jawed troglodytes has cost me the election, and yet if I were to have them killed, I would be the one to go to jail. That’s democracy for you.

    Smithers: You are noble and poetic in defeat, sir.

  37. Presumably the false positives lead to immediate review of the surveillance camera footage and then they stop the ship or send the rescue boat/helicopter. In most of these cases they were able to see the fall pretty easily when they reviewed the footage. And the system would know the exact moment of the incident vs. “she was last seen at 2am and reported missing at 2pm.”

    I guess the other option would be to use the tracking systems hospitals use for staff and patients (baby LoJack, etc.) They’d likely use some sort of wristband system and the ship would track where everyone was and immediately know if they left the ship.

  38. “They’d likely use some sort of wristband system and the ship would track where everyone was and immediately know if they left the ship.”

    Last time we went to WDW, we were issued wristbands, e.g. to buy stuff.

    I’m thinking this would be less costly than the MOB monitoring systems, especially if they’re already issuing wristbands for other reasons.

  39. And the wristbands will never have an interrupted connection with the sensors? And drunks on Spring Break will not throw them overboard as a prank?

    We’d be much better off rendering cell phones unuseable in cars than we would be worrying about the one in 27 million passengers who stumbles overboard.

  40. “We’d be much better off rendering cell phones unuseable in cars than we would be worrying about the one in 27 million passengers who stumbles overboard.”

    In terms of lives saved, I agree.

    But it was 9 in 27 million.

    “And drunks on Spring Break will not throw them overboard as a prank?”

    Not if you require them to present their wristbands to get drinks, or food, or into their rooms… or at least, not often.

  41. If the goal is to reduce cruise ship deaths, it would probably be far more cost effective, per life saved, to double the number of lifeguards. Hire escorts for everyone who requests one (particularly those over 75) by holding their arms walking through the dining room and reduce falls.

    Increase the onboard medical staff.

    The obsession with overboard death is more emotional than logical.

  42. I’m kinda wondering how many MOB survive the fall. At least on the cruise ships I’ve seen docked locally, that’s quite a way down.

  43. Rhett, stopping immediately can’t happen with any boat, much less one of these guys. The missing at 2 A.M./reported at 2 pm is the thing that really kills me here. I can’t think of a better way to show you have no regard or concern for people’s safety.

    Finn, interesting idea about the wristbands, and not at all difficult to selli. Iirc, the bands are your room key too. And yes, the ships are tall. I have no idea how high a fall into water has to be to be deadly, but I do know that when a dad dropped his daughter off the side of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, there was a search and rescue operation. No clue how tall that bridge is, but cruise ships go under it (for now—they’re trying to figure out what to do as the boats get even bigger)

    Milk, I wonder what the numbers of deaths from causes you suggest are. Especiallydrownings in the polls. I didn’t think the family of the toddler at Disney had done anything wrong either, but I didn’t grow up in Florida. People were pissed off at the “idiot” parents—like your consternation at people sitting on the railings, but much harsher. Took me by surprise. As for being seaworthy out in the middle of the ocean, is that really what we’re talking about? The QE2, yes, But cruises around the Mediterranean and Caribbean are always kinda close to somewhere. Maybe the equipment is too big for a cigarette boat, but they can obviously stay afloat in those areas. And I don’t think they’d really need to catch back up to the cruise ship right away—the passenger, or their corpse, would have other places to go. If the rescue boat couldn’t take them there, then another, more capable boat could be sent. Main thing is to get someone searching for them right away. It’s not like they’d. need multiple crews at the ready either. Fire fighters wake up and go out immediately—why couldn’t this crew? But I am with you on other ways to prevent death. The suggestions of psychiatrists and days off and other measures for the crew sound so basic—for passengers’ countries of origin, if not the staffs.

    Ada, I get that you can’t falsely imprison someone for being drunk, but can you suggest they call a friend, or at least a cab? If they refuse that and staffer out into the parking lot; I’d think a cop could follow them and be ready if/when they go from drunk in public to drunk driving.

  44. ^stagger out into the parking lot.

    I hope the rest of the typos are not indecipherable. I’m on my cell phone, as if you couldn’t tell. Milo, sorry your name got mangled.

  45. Finn/SM – and I’m thinking, it’s not just survive the initial fall, but survive with minimal injuries such that the person can tread water for at least 20 minutes, and likely much longer.

    What percentage of the cruising population can actually tread water in a pool for 20 minutes, totally unassisted, under ideal conditions? 50%**? Now add in a 10-story drop, broken ribs, a sea state, BAC > .1, clothes and shoes weighing you down, and mental panic.

    (**Although, I suppose that the passengers climbing railings probably draw more heavily from the treading half.)

    SM – the Caribbean cruises can still often be a couple hundred miles from land, I think. And it probably goes without saying that this whole discussion would realistically only apply to Caribbean/Gulf of Mexico, Med. The ships going around Alaska, or Norway/Iceland…don’t bother.

  46. “But who I’m more concerned about are the employees who are apparently a quarter of the people who die this way. They aren’t from countries with the muscle that the USA has, so their cases, and their families, who probably counted on their wages, are probably given even less attention than the ones described in the article.”

    SM – get you a $2 used copy of:

    “Cruise Confidential: A Hit Below the Waterline: Where the Crew Lives, Eats, Wars, and Parties”

    You’d enjoy it. It’s light and entertaining.

  47. From what my mother describes there are the party cruises and the more staid voyages. The risks are different for each. The party cruises have more of the falling overboard, drowning in the pool (lifeguards have to keep a very watchful eye) or injuring themselves while going about the ship.
    The staid voyages with more seniors have more of the medical issues crop up. One lady in my mother’s big group was ill and the ship doctor was insisting that she get off and seek medical help on land. She had multiple and serious medical issues prior. After a day or two in the infirmary she continued with the cruise.
    My parents greatest fear was getting left behind when they went on excursions and not making it back to the ship on time.
    There are many home country personnel employed on cruise ships. Most usually have done a two year hospitality/catering diploma after high school. Usually people take these jobs when they are single. These jobs help build savings very quickly and also sets people up for good jobs in the hotel industry back in the home country once they decide to leave. Its been a good route to get training and bring that experience back (quite handy when you are managing large weddings/parties in the home country).

  48. Apple dropped prices, $100 off for iPads. If I were feeling frivolous I would buy a couple for gifts. I’m in the market for a new laptop but I don’t feel like shopping right now. I’m thinking of switching from a PC to a Mac.

    I visited an Amazon store yesterday. It felt like a novelty. I saw a cute calendar and almost bought it but then I thought nah why should I carry it around I’ll just order it online.

    My travel plans: It appears my flight to visit family in the heartland will cost almost twice as much as a flight for a long weekend trip to Iceland.

  49. I went to an Amazon store in NJ. It’s interesting, but the best part was being able to pick up gift cards that DD wanted for her friends in any denomination/design/container.

    We were in Garden State Plaza and this was one of their first stores in the tri state region. Many companies will open stores or restaurants in Garden State Plaza because analysts visit this mall for their research. It’s one of the largest malls that is close to their offices in NYC, and it has a combination of very high end stores plus typical mall stores that the teens love to shop. They also get a ton of visitors from China because it’s clise to Newark and NYC. It’s a very interesting place to visit vs other malls. The added bonus for us is no sales tax on clothing or shoes. NJ took away inexpensive gas, but they still have no tax on clothing.

  50. We went to the Amazon store in Georgetown recently. It was fun to look at physical books. It was sort of like an old school Borders with electronics and giant lego star destroyer sets. PSA – if you visit DC in mid-December you might be alone in the room with the founding documents in the archives, or the only people in the Monet room in the National Gallery. Such a different experience than the last time we visited, during a Spring Break week!

  51. On our cruise last December, we had a passenger who had a sudden onset of a serious illness. We were about halfway from Galveston to Cozumel and turned toward New Orleans (closest US port at that point) to get close enough for the rescue chopper to be able to pick her up and have enough fuel to get her back to NOLA. You could clearly feel how much faster we were going during that 3 hour detour to meet the chopper both to get her to medical care sooner and to make sure the helicopter wasn’t waiting on us.

  52. Related to the gator at WDW – Almost every place you visit, you will have an incident where locals shake their heads and wonder how someone could be that stupid. The reality is things that are normal low/no risk behavior where you are from can be risky where you are visiting. I do think those in the “less likely to know and most likely to kill you” category are in the best interest of the travel industry to communicate (alligators, bears, venomous snakes). But the more common sense or CYA type things (don’t sit on a cruise ship railing) would result in a list so long no one would read it.

  53. I feel that way when I see tourists on the subway with expensive cameras or jewelry. It’s much safer now on the subway, and mugging are rare during the day in midtown. They’re sort of advertising to pick pockets or muggers.

  54. And drunks on Spring Break will not throw them overboard as a prank?

    Not if it’s also your room key. And even if they did it would just trigger a review of the camera footage and they’d see the band going over with no person attached.

  55. July said ” I’m thinking of switching from a PC to a Mac.”
    Our big computer in the kitchen is an iMac with a gigantic monitor. We are very OS agnostic, though. Besides the iMac, residing in the house right now are a Windows7 laptop (DH’s work laptop), a Windows8 laptop (bought on grant money, never upgraded the OS), a Windows10 laptop(my official work machine), a Chromebook that the kids use, another Mac laptop bought on a grant, my personal behemoth of a Linux machine, and two Raspberry Pis. Everyone is pretty comfortable on all the platforms.

    At my university, students can buy a laptop, Mac or Windows10) for a discount through our IT, and most do because it comes with a service contract so they can get their laptops fixed on campus. My son’s school does the same, so he bought his laptop through their program. I encourage those of you who are sending kids to college to see if your college has a program like this, and to consider it – the ability to get laptops fixed right on campus is really useful.

    One thing I dread, though, is when I get first or second year students in my classes who chose the Mac option. Not because I hate Mac, and not because of any software incompatibilities. No, the reason I dread them is because a lot of the kids who choose Mac choose it because they think it is “easier”. But they don’t know anything about how to use their Mac, and in particular, they don’t realize that MacOS is really just Unix with a pretty graphical gloss on it, and to do a lot of the things they will need to do as CS majors, they are going to have to get down with the Unix command line shell. Bwa-ha-ha!

  56. I think part of the interest in man-overboard stories is that it plays into “Could it be…MURDER??” intrigue. Maybe a lot of people are idly wondering if they can push their spouse/in-laws/whatever overboard and get away with it. Hence the creepy interest.

    My sister had a friend who was a pediatric oncology nurse. Then one day she snapped and became a nurse on a cruise ship. I see that she’s now an associate professor in the nursing department at a community college in California. Looks like she’s done a lot of international work too, working in Haiti and Armenia. Interesting life.

  57. Agree with MM about the buying the computer through the campus program. At DD#1’s school, not only do they repair them on campus, but they will check you out a loaner to use while yours is “in the shop”. They did warn us that the “standard” warranty was 3 years, but is was prudent to extend it to the 4 years your student will be there.

  58. “My sister had a friend who was a pediatric oncology nurse”
    The nurses on the pediatric floor at MSKCC are the best, truly a special breed. But a lot of them burn out because it is so hard emotionally. I am happy to see that my son’s primary nurse is still there. We always say hi when he goes in for checkups, and are also FB friends.

  59. ” but they will check you out a loaner to use while yours is “in the shop””
    Yes, that is pretty standard. And really important – my student’s laptops are always breaking!!

  60. I was going to ask about the Amazon store. Seems like it is like our local Barnes & Noble which has devoted a ton of space to toys and gifts, actively holds book fairs for neighboring schools and has a Starbucks. They are trying to get a lot more people to buy vs. browsing and walking out. I don’t know if it will make enough money to stay in business.

  61. In 2015. A large cruise ship was able to stop within 6 min of a real time observed incident turn back and institute search and rescue. It is basically impossible to be swept off the boat unintentionally if observing normal safety rules, and the railings are high enough to prevent that. I am glad that there are now cameras to document what happens (my nightmare was the ease of murder) and I certainly thought the incidence of drunken falls was much higher than the actual numbers. Medical care onboard is a priority for us and I was very satisfied with the time DH needed it.

  62. I met with my finance advisor yesterday. He assured me that we should be more than fine for retirement. Now I’m thinking about how to financially set up my kids – almost 9 and 7.5. Do you gift your kids money each year? I’m wondering if I should at least start an account now for them and put at least a $1,000/year in there. I had planned on starting Roths for them as soon as they start working and putting in 100% of whatever they make up to the limits. But thinking maybe I should start funding an account for them now. Growing up true middle class, I wasn’t exposed to kids who had parents do this for them.

    Any other ideas on what I could be doing now for them?

  63. I’m wondering if I should at least start an account now for them and put at least a $1,000/year in there.

    If you did $2,500 a year each for 35 years they’d have $500k by the time they hit their early to mid 40s. At some point you might want to think about a trust to keep it safe in case of divorce, bankruptcy, etc.

  64. tcmama – Do you think your family is eligible for college financial aid? My parents left my DDs some money when they died. Basically, they left the money they had saved for them for college. This showed up as their asset, which counts differently than your asset. I’m not saying DON’T put money aside, but think about all the different effects it may have on future plans. If you are prepared to pay 100% of school out of pocket, then disregard!

  65. TCM — My two cents: Certainly you can set aside funds for your children, but I wouldn’t put it in their names yet — I would keep the funds in your and/or your DH’s name. Your children are so young that you don’t know whether or to what extent they would be responsible with the money when they are eligible to pull it out at age 18 or 21. Later on, if everything goes well with them, you can make a large transfer to them at that time. You might have to report that gift on a gift-tax return, but there won’t be any tax to pay (unless you give them more than $11.4 million), so that’s no big deal. As Rhett said, if you’re thinking that you might transfer a lot to them, think about using a trust to protect the assets.

    Talk to a good estate planner!

  66. TCMama- Our daughter was given a good amount of money when she was born. I have it invested in our own taxable account. I have it invested in stocks and plan to turn it over in about 10-12 years. Probably after she graduates from college. We will take the tax hit on her behalf.

    She also has a UTMA account. She is a saver and had already accumulated quite a bit of money in her savings account at the bank. We will match anything she contributes. The only caveat is that she has to keep it in that account until she is at least 18 or 21 (I haven’t decided which age yet- it automatically gets turned over when she is 21). Right now she has just over $1K in it. Not really enough to worry about. It was mostly just to teach her about investing.

  67. RMS – that story about LendEDU creating a fake journalist (Drew Cloud) is really slimy.

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