What motivates really rich people?

by WCE

I wouldn’t have chosen the title of this article, but the idea that wealthy people are driven more by competitiveness than desire for money was interesting. It makes me ponder taxing the incomes of people who are not dual professional couples paying off student loans more.

The Reason Many Ultrarich People Aren’t Satisfied With Their Wealth
At a certain point, another million dollars doesn’t make anything newly affordable. That’s when other motivations take over.

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124 thoughts on “What motivates really rich people?

  1. At a certain point, another million dollars doesn’t make anything newly affordable…“The gull-wing Tesla, the latest Tesla, I don’t know what it [costs], but it’s not that much if you have $100 million.”

    They’re pretty far beyond a Tesla.

    $65 million:

    $295 million:

  2. I used to watch Shark Tank pretty regularly. I always wondered why the Sharks, all of whom had made tons of money, were bothering to keep working. I often thought, “If I were they, I would just retire and enjoy my money.” But the fact that I have the mindset to even think that thought probably goes some way toward explaining why I will never be a multi-millionaire. I think some people are just hard-wired to have a deep drive to achieve, and that drive never goes away.

  3. This makes me wonder about changing vs. keeping your peer group – Some people keep the same peer group their entire lives and once they attain their success in relation to their peers, they are happy to be the big fish in their current pond. Other people (in this article) are continually changing peer groups and are moving from being the big fish to the small one, and then they are motivated to become the big fish again.

    I think we encourage this peer group movement in general as a society. Think about kids sports – they are on a recreational team and are pretty good, so they are encouraged to play for their school team and/or a select team. They get better, so they are encouraged to move to the next tier.

    On the flip side, in our work worlds – in many places, if you aren’t moving “up” (more something, as this no longer always means management), your value seems to diminish. But, when you move “up”, your peer group changes. In many organizations, those employees who work to fund their outside activities, vs. being focused on their careers/money earning are often thought less of or see as less committed.

  4. I used to watch Shark Tank pretty regularly. I always wondered why the Sharks, all of whom had made tons of money, were bothering to keep working. I often thought, “If I were they, I would just retire and enjoy my money.” But the fact that I have the mindset to even think that thought probably goes some way toward explaining why I will never be a multi-millionaire. I think some people are just hard-wired to have a deep drive to achieve, and that drive never goes away.

    I think it’s that they just really enjoy what they do. Yes, Mr Wonderful always talks about how much he likes money, but I think it’s more that they all enjoy the process of investing in a company and trying to make it successful.

    I read an interview with Bill Gates when he was still at MS and he was asked why he kept working when he was a billionaire and he said he really enjoyed working and wanted to see how far they could pus the technology.

  5. “If I were they, I would just retire and enjoy my money.”

    Have you ever experience a thrill at being really successful at something*? The article missed that part. There is thrilling fun and excitement in that.

    * Per Austin’s peer group commen,t I get the sense that while many here are objectively successful, not having gone to clown college, they don’t feel super successful compared to their peer group.

  6. On the flip side, in our work worlds – in many places, if you aren’t moving “up” (more something, as this no longer always means management), your value seems to diminish. But, when you move “up”, your peer group changes. In many organizations, those employees who work to fund their outside activities, vs. being focused on their careers/money earning are often thought less of or see as less committed.

    Yes. A lot of professional firms have an “up or out” policy.

  7. Have you ever experience a thrill at being really successful at something*? The article missed that part. There is thrilling fun and excitement in that.</I.

    Exactly. This is what they do for fun.

  8. At a certain point, another million dollars doesn’t make anything newly affordable…“The gull-wing Tesla, the latest Tesla, I don’t know what it [costs], but it’s not that much if you have $100 million.”

    My brother and I were discussing boats. His “dream” boat would be oriented toward entertaining large groups over short distances. And he was saying that to truly have the kind of space that he would consider ideal, it would take about 100 feet. I said maybe, but you could probably get what you’re looking for on a shorter catamaran, and showed him the Horizon PC 74:
    https://www.powerandmotoryacht.com/boats/tested-horizon-pc74

    He said how much? I said $6M. And he wondered, realistically, what should your net worth be before you seriously consider a $6M boat? We agreed on $100M, bare minimum.

    And I don’t think that’s being overly conservative. Most of us would probably agree that, before a family would buy a $35k boat, it might be reasonable to have half a million, and this is the same ratio.

    So $100M means you can afford a 74′ catamaran. Which is…very nice…*but*, there are all sorts of bigger and fancier options.

  9. It’s human nature to want to improve, to get better and achieve more. For some that means acquiring more wealth, for others it might mean more knowledge, skills, affection, or happiness in other forms. Maybe some of us can relate better to non-monetary goals. Maybe my goal is the option to have more couch potato time. :)

    Stoicism is not usually associated with the accumulation of wealth. By coincidence I just happened to come across a quote from a Stoic philosopher that relates to self-improvement and maybe even competitiveness. “Progress is not achieved by luck or accident, but by working on yourself daily.” Epictetus

    “Have you ever experience a thrill at being really successful at something*? The article missed that part. There is thrilling fun and excitement in that.”

    As you suggested, it can be thrilling to become relatively successful even if you’re not tops in the entire field. Some of that comes from getting a charge out of competing against yourself.

  10. This week I was binge watching BelowDeck. This is a reality show on people who charter the super yachts for 2 nights, starting at $50,000 or so. One of the episodes featured two couples that each own their own smaller yachts – I think it was 75 feet and 100 feet. Anyway, they commented how nice it was to enjoy the yacht without having to do any work or maintenance for a few days. It got me thinking about how you really have to enjoy the whole boat experience to want to keep a yacht, instead of just chartering whenever you want.

    I know plenty of people that do not have a net worth of half a million but easily have a boat they paid more than $35k for. Keeping up with the Joneses is a dangerous game.

  11. And I don’t think that’s being overly conservative. Most of us would probably agree that, before a family would buy a $35k boat, it might be reasonable to have half a million, and this is the same ratio.

    I don’t think that works. If you have $20 million properly invested that’s $1 million a year in perpetuity. If you’re 60 and you have $20 million in the bank and you retire and cash out your deferred comp with $6 million post tax and that’s all you really want. I’d say buy the boat.

  12. As you suggested, it can be thrilling to become relatively successful even if you’re not tops in the entire field.

    I think a lot hinges on how you define your field. If you’re an accounting major from Central Missouri State University with a working class background and you end up an executive VP at BB&T you could be thrilled at how far you’ve come. If you’d gone to Wharton you might think your entire life is one big failure.

    As always the key to happiness is low expectations.

  13. “It got me thinking about how you really have to enjoy the whole boat experience to want to keep a yacht, instead of just chartering whenever you want.”

    That’s definitely true. At the same time, if you are so oriented, I think it should be encouraged. I’m comparing my parents now to my in-laws. For a while, I’ve thought my parents were a little bit crazy (and they are) maintaining two relatively high-maintenance houses (big yards, always something to work on). They *could* have it so much “easier.” And my mom’s still teaching part time. And there’s an aging dog and a cat.

    On the other hand, since my FIL retired, DW and I have found ourselves wondering WTF they’re doing all day?!?! To be fair, they have done some longer trips, both with friends to a resort for two weeks, and longer stays with their kids/grandkids. But other than that…we have no idea. There’s no dog. No boat. FIL does read a lot. MIL watches a lot of Hallmark movies. But the other thing is that MIL has developed some sort of allergy or intolerance for dairy and soy. And soy, as we’ve come to discover, is in EVERYTHING. Well, mostly everything. But it’s like 95% of their world has become about food, and what she can and can’t eat. What stores carry what alternative products (ghee, for example, or breads without soy oil) what restaurants don’t use any soybean oil, what restaurants might only SAY they don’t use any soybean oil. They were here for five days over Christmas and I was going to pull my f(&king hair out if I had to listen to any more discussion about food.

    Before they came to visit, MIL wanted to discuss, like three or four days in advance, with DW what she was planning to cook. And DW finally laid out for her “I’m working, I’ve got a ton of end of the year stuff that needs to be done there, I’m in the kids’ school a bunch, we’re hosting two dinner parties this week alone, [Milo] is at a new job. We have no clue whatsoever what we’re going to have for breakfast, lunch and dinner starting three days from now for five days. Bring your own food, or go to the grocery store when you get here.”

    MIL tries to be accommodating and non-intrusive (to a degree), but she was driving DW mad because we just KNOW that she would never put any of this on their son (BIL) or his wife.

    Long story short, I think they, and especially FIL, would benefit from a bit more chaos in their lives. Their house is way too low-maintenance, all the yardwork is contracted. An old boat with things breaking periodically that require troubleshooting and maintenance would be perfect for FIL. Otherwise, it seems like his whole life has shifted from a very intense job to…an endless circuit of grocery stores for allergen-friendly food.

  14. This is a reality show on people who charter the super yachts for 2 nights, starting at $50,000 or so.

    I thought it was $150k a week but they edit the nights together for the show.

    It always makes me think you’re pretty rich if you’re spending $150k or $75k split between two couples on a week’s vacation*. Imagine how rich you have to keep a yacht you don’t rent out that’s running several $100k a month just in staff salaries and maintenance, docking fees, etc.

    * I also love how they make their money. One guy I recall owned a chain of trampoline parks.

  15. My sib was here for the holiday. She is the opposite of the rich people who want to keep achieving. She is 3 years younger than me, and spent the entire week talking about how she can’t wait to retire. The thing is, she pretty much lives a retirement lifestyle now – very undemanding slow paced job, watches a lot of TV, 8 weeks of vacation time. She is already quite the hermit – what would happen if she retires?

  16. Oh, Milo, welcome to the club.

    Fortunately for me/us there really are no food allergies* to be concerned about for our parents but that does not stop particularly DW and her dad from obsessing on what the next meal will be, or, more accurately, what tomorrow’s dinner will be. As in we’ll all be enjoying tonight’s dinner and one of the two of them will bring up “what should we have tomorrow”? unless it’s already been decided we’re going out. Or, for change of pace, maybe one of them will bring up “what are we doing for breakfast tomorrow”?

    Don’t get me wrong. I like good, well-prepared food. Some things I am even capable of doing myself. Now that it’s just the two of us most of the time there are times when I come home and DW says she’s not really hungry so she didn’t (multiple choice: (a) thaw anything, could even be leftovers, for dinner (b) make the X we had agreed to have (c) think about what we could have instead, (d) some combination of the above). Always very apologetically.

    Never.never.never a problem for me. I’m going to be happy with cereal or eggs/toast or yogurt/fruit or quesadillas or box mac & cheese or salad or ordering a pizza to be delivered or 3 beers. Trust me…there’s always plenty of food around our house. And I’m quite happy to figure things out on the fly for days in a row.

    But some people are not like that.

    *exception: DS2’s girlfriend is vegan by choice, lactose intolerant by biology. So when she’s around we just need to be sure there’s enough stuff for her. But she/they are happy enough to go to the store and get stuff if we don’t have enough. And that gives DW something to obsess about leading up to any visit from the girlfriend.

  17. Long story short, I think they, and especially FIL, would benefit from a bit more chaos in their lives.

    This is my dad. He retired at age 57 and it was the worst thing ever for him. He was always a person with a lot of hobbies, including golf and boating, but with so much time on his hands all of a sudden he lost a lot of interest. He is significantly less active since retiring than he was in peak working years. Makes my mom crazy.

  18. Rhett – Exactly, you likely don’t feel that successful compared to your peers if you are always jumping into the next bigger pond, where you are the smallest fish.

    About retiring and WTF do they do all day – I found that when I retired without part-time work, but even to an extent with part-time work, it became easy to procrastinate. I rarely procrastinated before because now was the only time available to do “it”. Now, the schedule is more flexible, so many things can be done tomorrow rather than today.

  19. Lark – The other issue often is your peers and/or friends aren’t as available as you are or assume you will take on more of the planning/organizing/set-up or clean-up because you have the time. That gets old real fast.

  20. Milo –Aren’t your in-laws the ones who own several rental properties? Are FIL and/or MIL involved in any of the maintenance/upkeep/management of those, or do they hire all the work out?

  21. NoB – They tend to get a lot of long-term, drama-free renters, and not much ever comes up. They hire out any regular maintenance or improvements.

  22. “But some people are not like that.”

    Tell me about it.
    DH is one of those people. 99% of the time, it’s great that he thinks about menus well in advance, ordering the meat online if necessary, making multiple trips to multiple grocery vendors. But sometimes, like last night when we arrived home in the early evening after a day trip that included a lovely dinner-quality lunch, I figured that we could just have cheese and crackers and fruit for dinner. In fact, I was very much looking forward to cheese and crackers and fruit and catching up on Billions, but DH wanted to try a promising new restaurant that just opened. Because dinner on the fly is anathema.

  23. I figured that we could just have cheese and crackers and fruit for dinner. Because dinner on the fly is anathema.

    It’s really quite simple. He’s right and you’re wrong. A dinner on the fly is an affront to all that is good and proper in the world.

  24. For my own health and fitness reasons, I’m best suited to not eat more than one large meal per day. And no more than two meals, period. We can have a “good and proper” lunch or dinner, but not both. At least not for more than three or four consecutive days.

    DW is the same way. And we’re in better shape now that our kids are older and we can say “I had a big lunch. You can get your own dinner. There’s cheese, crackers, fruit, yogurt, cereal. Have at it.

    I’d be 250 lbs if I had to live this lifestyle of “OMG, what am I going to EAT for my three meals this Saturday???”

  25. I’m with Scarlett. Cheese and crackers and a glass of wine is what I would choose at least three nights a week if I were only responsible for myself. After all these years, I am SO sick of choosing or discussing what’s for dinner. I truly don’t care.

  26. I think some people are just hard-wired to have a deep drive to achieve, and that drive never goes away….catching up on Billions,

    While that’s true I think much of it comes down to just being really good at something.

    Billion is loosely based on the life of Steven Cohen. Anyway in Black Edge they talk about his first day on Wall Street. His boss asks everyone in passing what they think the market is going to do. And Steven says, “X, Y and Z.” And that day X, Y and Z happens. So the next day the boss says, “Stevie, what’s going to happen today?” And he says, “A, B and C.” And wouldn’t you know it A, B and C happens. So words spreads fast, “We’ve found one! One who has the gift.” So the big boss comes down and says, “We’re putting you on a trading desk with $ to play with.” End of the day he’s made more money as a percentage of that $x million than anyone has ever made. By the time he’s 24 he’s making several million dollars a year.

    If you were that good at something would you ever want to stop doing it?

  27. I need to lose some weight and not planning meals or at least having good choices in the house ahead makes that impossible. I started in November and even with the holidays have managed to shed 5 pounds. Like Milo, to not gain, I can have one “good and proper” meal a day. In addition, I cannot do multiple carb-heavy meals in a day, which means I limit bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, etc to one meal a day. Usually those types of carbs are in my “good and proper” meal. The other meals, carbs are in the form of veggies.

    Because SO and DD#2 prefer a higher carb, lower veggie diet, I often cook for myself and SO cooks for himself and DD#2. I don’t mind repetition and will often buy groceries to cook every other day or so and have leftovers for a couple of days. I do look at the calendar ahead to plan around meals that I will eat away from home.

  28. On topic – I think small successes build confidence and for some people that confidence has an outsize impact in that they feel confident that whatever new venture they undertake will work out.

    MIL is very concerned about meals. There cannot be “we’ll figure something out”. If we are ordering takeout or going to pop something in the oven she wants to know. At this point, she doesn’t eat much but it’s what FIL will eat that she is concerned about. They were used to cooking every day so the thought that every meal doesn’t have to be planned takes getting used to.

  29. Rhett – I think finding the thing you are good at is very important. But, in addition to the “task”, there is also the environment you do it in and the people you do it with. I had a job I LOVED – they kind that you wake up in the morning thinking, I can’t believe they pay me to do this. Then, the organization had a major change and as the environment got worse, people became more difficult to work with and/or started leaving. After about 8 months, it had turned into drudgery. It took a couple of years and a couple of job changes to find the next job I LOVED. And that cycle has repeated itself several times in my career. I find many people NEVER find that job even for a short period of time and I find that very sad.

  30. Austin,

    You make many great points. I would add that being really good at something can also make the environment more pleasant. If you’re busy shitting golden eggs they aren’t going to care as much about the TPS reports.

  31. Steve Cohen is sort of a good example. Several of our friends worked for him at SAC and some stayed to work with him at his family fund. They hated the guy, but they never wanted to leave because they didn’t want to give up the money. They all work for different firms now, and most have changed jobs a few times since they had to leave SAC. They were miserable at SAC, but now they are really miserable. Some people just want to keep making more and more money. They get addicted to that bonus.

    I know some of the regulars didn’t like Crazy Rich Asians, but I really enjoyed the books and the movie. It was fun to see billionaires looking down at the millionaires.

  32. I’m best suited to not eat more than one large meal per day.

    Do you eat breakfast? A full breakfast (or any for that matter) is something that people do that is really not my thing.

  33. My parents are the opposite when it comes to meal planning. If I’m visiting they have no clue what is for dinner until about 5pm when I ask. Typically it requires me to run to the store and buy food, or we just go out. It actually drives me batty at how little planning is involved. As it turns out, my mom eats salad or cereal for dinner each night, so making dinner isn’t on her radar. But their lack of activities and hobbies means that they have no sense of time. They are late to just about everything. Then they over compensate when they can’t be late – for air travel, they arrive between 2-3 hours before their flight.

  34. After all these years, I am SO sick of choosing or discussing what’s for dinner.

    OMG, yes.

  35. “After all these years, I am SO sick of choosing or discussing what’s for dinner.

    OMG, yes.”

    haha Me too! But my H is all about discussing what’s for dinner. As in not only deciding to have pasta, but discussing exactly what type to have. Rigatoni, or ziti, or farfella, or elbows. And then what size, the big elbows or the small ones. Enough! (I am in the only one big meal a day camp. I thought it was mostly an age thing.)

  36. “If you were that good at something would you ever want to stop doing it?”

    I’ve known people to get bored and want to try something new to challenge themselves.

  37. At home, I am definitely in the the meal-planning-10-minutes-before-the-meal camp. Oh! It’s quesadillas, again!! However, when travelling, I love to “shop” for restaurants. DH is fairly tolerant of this. I can remember one night in NYC that we had to look at menus for at least an hour before we could settle on one. With kids, this is much more difficult, but not impossible. I can make a quick circuit of a block in about 10 minutes and judge quickly. We spent 2 weeks in Greece pre-kids with another couple. We were island hopping. I couldn’t believe that the other couple would eat at the first restaurant that we walked past after we decided we were hungry. Blew my mind and led to some friction.

    I have been listening to some weight-management podcasts recently, a lot about mindset and eating. One theme that comes up is that overweight people should not spend so much time thinking about food as entertainment – quit reading cooking light, quit making your pinterest board with 45 healthy dinner choices, etc. We should pick where we get our dopamine hits from and it shouldn’t be food related. This resonates a bit with me, but I will still obsess with dining out in new places as much as allowed by my dinner companions.

  38. As in not only deciding to have pasta, but discussing exactly what type to have. Rigatoni, or ziti, or farfella, or elbows.

    A very sensible fellow. Sometimes you feel like ziti and sometimes you feel like shells.

  39. Lemon – please let us know what you go with for luggage. DW wants something new that’s lighter than her Hartmann 21×14 rolling suitcase and her 24×19 rolling suitcase, and preferably something that’s ~ 22×16.

  40. I just spent 20 minutes making a meal plan for the entire month of January. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s so much easier for me to plan it all out at once than to do the daily thinking about it. Our January is pretty hectic with some travel and b’ball season, so here’s one less thing I have to think about, all I have to do is execute.

    It looks basically like this:
    Mondays – Soup & quesadillas or paninis (and for each soup I’ll make enough to freeze, so we’ll have a direct repeat in February) – the soups are tomato, butternut squash, Italian wedding, black bean
    Tuesdays – taco or chili, alternating (will double taco meat and chili recipe when they come up the first time, so the second time just have to pull out of the freezer)
    Wednesday – chicken dish
    Thursdays – pasta dish
    Fridays – grill burgers or grill pizza, alternating
    Saturday – out or hosting supper club
    Sunday – trying 4 new recipes, one each Sunday

  41. I am definitely a “one proper meal a day” person. It isn’t so much weight control for me, but more that big meals in the middle of the day make me feel really gross and out of sorts. In particular, if I eat the kind of lunch many people eat, I couldn’t even get cheese and fruit down in the evening, because I just wouldn’t be hungry at all, for anything.

  42. I plan dinners by the week. I really have to because there just isn’t time to think about it in the flurry of the work/school week.

  43. Back when I was on duty with my ailing mom, I would frequently express that I vastly preferred being an only child even though there wasn’t any relief. There was no need for discussion. I made the decisions. I feel the same way about having a smallish kitchen and being in charge of the daily dinner menu, including whether it is in or out, full dinner or sandwich/omelet, and sit down time. (DD does her own food 95% of the time. Family dinner is a scheduled treat.)

  44. I’ve been looking at the Away bag because I want to give luggage to DD as a bday gift. I will probably buy something in the Spring. DH travels a lot and he received a Briggs and Riley carry on as a gift about a year ago. It is a splurge, but it is a great bag. We just retired two bags from Delsey, but we used them for over 15 years. They’re fine, but they look a little worn so they weren’t great for business travel.

    I hate planning for dinner. We just had the conversation about what to do tonight because we are in semi vacation mode, but we are also going in three different directions on some of the days. I was waiting to hear if DD has her own plans tonight, but I think she will be at home so we need a dinner plan. I love when DH travels because I don’t have to deal with coming up with a plan for the three of us. My dream is to be as organized as Lark, but stuff always seems to come up and I rarely execute as planned.

  45. I have been listening to some weight-management podcasts recently, a lot about mindset and eating. One theme that comes up is that overweight people should not spend so much time thinking about food as entertainment – quit reading cooking light, quit making your pinterest board with 45 healthy dinner choices, etc. We should pick where we get our dopamine hits from and it shouldn’t be food related.

    I couldn’t agree more strongly with this. And I might add that you shouldn’t be afraid of bland or boring food — if you’re not that crazy about it, ALL THE BETTER! You’ll be a lot less likely to overeat.

    Rhett – you asked earlier. I usually skip breakfast. If you’ll allow me to elaborate, even though I hate people talking about their diets, I’ve put a few things together to embrace the idea that losing weight is all about minimizing the duration of time that your insulin level is elevated. So combining the ideas of intermittent fasting and low carb (Paleo, caveman, Atkins, South Beach…) I (qualifying that this is true for me, personally, as a male in my late 30s) can fairly easily lose weight if I skip breakfast, have a no-carb lunch, and eat more or less whatever I want for dinner and dessert. That means there’s only one meal per day that’s elevating my insulin levels, if I understand the biology correctly.

    For me, it’s very simple to skip breakfast, because I leave for work before 6. The LAST thing I need to be doing is saying “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!!!” and stuffing ANYTHING down my gut at 5:30 in the morning, a time when you should totally be fasting (and asleep). So I pass right through the kitchen, leave the house, get to work, and don’t think about eating until lunch time.

    Now…on the weekends, (and, e.g. Christmas holidays) when everyone’s hanging around the kitchen noshing on this and that, then I’ll allow myself to get out the cast iron skillet and enjoy laying out the bacon and making some eggs and buttering English muffins and slicing cheese. It’s not good for me at all, but at least I’m doing it at 8:30 vs. 5:30. At least three more hours of low insulin.

  46. “If you were that good at something would you ever want to stop doing it?”

    I’ve known people to get bored and want to try something new to challenge themselves.

    I think that as you get better at a thing, the nature of what you are doing changes. If you get good enough at basketball to make the NBA, you learn a lot about nutrition and training your rookie year. At the other end of the spectrum, watch LeBron James–he’s thinking about how to be a leader during the game, he’s greeting so many people on the opposing team so heartily after it ends that you’d think it was a family hoe-down… Sure, he still focuses fiercely during playing time, but that is by no means all he’s doing or thinking about.

    Milo, you’ve drawn the opposite conclusion that many people would. Some might say “gee, having a food allergy is a much huger deal than I thought–look at soy, which turns out to be in EVERYTHING. What a pain to have to expend so much energy on learning to avoid what physically hurts you.”

    I plan a few meals ahead. I’ll ask my son if x is ok for dinner the next night before I go to the store, and might not have a backup if he doesn’t want it, which might piss him off. Sorry dude, food doesn’t fall out of the air. Being grown up means recognizing that eating requires preparing requires buying requires planning and making shopping lists of food. There is no way I’d be able to cook as spontaneously as he’d like, especially when he was with the girlfriend and I never knew if I was going to have 1 or 2 of them for dinner, or be able to eat cheese and crackers by myself.

    I don’t think my mom’s ever enjoyed routine cooking, even though she’s been doing it for ~6 decades. One reason she asks “what should we eat for dinner” is that she doesn’t want to have to come up with something. Before we visit, she often wants to come up with the menu a couple days in advance. Fine with me–the food comes from a store someone has to drive to, not from the a backyard where whatever you want is magically in season. Given the food issues in our family (my vegetarianism is just the start–we also have the cumadin diet, lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance and Krohn’s disease in the 12 people in our family (parents, kids, husbands, grands)), it makes perfect sense for her to want to run the menu past everyone before buying for it.

    And we’re in better shape now that our kids are older and we can say “I had a big lunch. You can get your own dinner. There’s cheese, crackers, fruit, yogurt, cereal. Have at it. Huh? I thought your oldest was maybe 12?

  47. ““gee, having a food allergy is a much huger deal than I thought–look at soy, which turns out to be in EVERYTHING. What a pain to have to expend so much energy on learning to avoid what physically hurts you.””

    Yeah, that was my initial reaction. But after five days of talking about food seemingly nonstop, I was fed up. Go figure.

    ” I thought your oldest was maybe 12?”

    Old enough to fix their own dinner, for sure.

  48. if you’re not that crazy about it, ALL THE BETTER! You’ll be a lot less likely to overeat.
    Not if you’re a supertaster.

    I quite agree that 5:30 is a time to be sleeping. If I am awake then, i consider it a potty run in the wee (ha!) hours. But if I have to get up at that time, I absolutely eat breakfast. Otherwise, I’m a bear with a headache who can’t do much of anything well. Dinner, otoh, I can pretty much let go entirely. My son’s biology is set up the other way around–he has a hard time eating in the morning (though he has recognized that skipping breakfast leads to feeling crappy mid-morning so he eats something) and is ravenous for supper. Arg.

  49. Old enough to fix their own dinner, for sure.
    Ouch! So much for social time or family meals. Holy cow.

  50. I agree that the hunger cycle is completely individual. For me, I know that if I eat breakfast, I will still be every bit as hungry at lunch. Possibly even moreso, for some reason. Sometimes I’ve reasoned that I can have a low-carb breakfast, so I’ll order up an omelette at work. I eat it, and 20 minutes later, I’m absolutely desperate for a Coke. And I’ll be craving more carbs at lunch. Neither of those things happen if I eat nothing until noon.

  51. “So much for social time or family meals. Holy cow.”

    OK, I don’t know why you’re acting like a bitch, but I’ll ignore it. We’ll still usually sit down with them, if time allows, or we’ll get our version of family time in by doing math homework together, or watching the Simpsons.

  52. I don’t think she meant it that way.

    I had a big lunch. You can get your own dinner. There’s cheese, crackers, fruit, yogurt, cereal. Have at it.

    That’s very much the modern way of doing it. The days of “We’re having liver and onions at 6:30 and then an epic battle of wills with gagging and crying.” have passed. Smaller families, longer hours, more activities, etc.

  53. “There’s cheese, crackers, fruit, yogurt, cereal. Have at it.”

    This has been our Sunday dinner for many years.

  54. Totally agree that one “real” meal a day is quite enough. And because I don’t want to end up like Milo’s MIL, I try not to discuss the weight-maintenance strategies that age has forced upon me. Just let me get my small meals for breakfast and lunch and then we can do whatever for dinner.

  55. Back on topic….I was surprised at how low threshold was for what he author considered mega wealthy. If I read it right, somewhere around $10M in assets. Or maybe he meant liquid assets, because $10M in business assets really isn’t that much.

    I have several neighbors with business assets well in excess of $10M; it’s the ones with assets in excess of $100M that own the really cool planes and lake houses. The rest of us are more likely to increase the business enough so that if the kids want to come back there will be a spot for them to carve out their niche. Or, maybe he is talking about per capita wealth and I am thinking family wealth.

  56. If I read it right, somewhere around $10M in assets.

    At 3% that’s barely a totebag level income.

  57. This conversation is interesting to me because I didn’t realize Fred and Milo were my siblings. My parents lived a very food-centric life in retirement, and they were both quite skinny. My kids used to say “I love being with Grandma and Grandpa. As soon as we finish one meal, we start planning the next.” It absolutely drove me insane. But after my dad died, my mom’s behavior became even more extreme. We could finish thanksgiving dinner at 4 PM, and at 6, she wanted food on the table again, because it was “time for dinner.” But she hardly ate anything at all. So total focus on food, but also eating pretty much nothing and dwindling down to skin and bones. It took me a while to recognize classic eating disorder behavior but no one wanted to hear my theory.

    Report from the empty nest, DH and I really enjoy not having to produce a healthy well balanced dinner every night. We usually fix a salad and a glass of wine and call it good.

  58. I had a job I LOVED – they kind that you wake up in the morning thinking, I can’t believe they pay me to do this.

    You are truly in a very small minority that you have found even one job like this, let alone several. Even the people I know who love their jobs don’t LOVE them.

  59. Oh, and I laughed at the need for $500K savings to buy a $35K boat. I know so many people with $35K boats and savings of zero.

  60. I can remember one night in NYC that we had to look at menus for at least an hour before we could settle on one……. I couldn’t believe that the other couple would eat at the first restaurant that we walked past after we decided we were hungry. Blew my mind and led to some friction.

    Ada, is it that it takes you that long to find a menu that you like, or that you want to see what all of the options are even though you’ve already seen one (or many) that you like? Is it that you’re afraid you’re going to miss out on something if you don’t keep looking?

    DW and I will eat at the first restaurant that we see where we like the menu. So not necessarily the first place we see, but usually one of the first few.

    As I’ve said before, I find these sorts of differences fascinating.

  61. $10M in assets isn’t much in some of the towns near me. This is the problem when we discuss averages, percentages etc., because it is all relative when it comes to income and location. Some people in this area seem to have new, expensive “stuff” all of the time. Cars, home decor, vacations, clothing, and more. For example, I noticed a few people wearing the same pair of shoes. Sort of a clog/boot thing. I knew it wasn’t Ugg, but I didn’t recognize the brand. I finally asked one of my friends and it was a shoe from No. 6. I looked at the web site and the shoes were $400. $400 for a clog!!!!!

    People seem to have money to spend, or they’ve decided to skip the Totebag life. I have friends that are vacationing this week in the Caribbean, Europe, Central/South America, South Africa. Many of these people will go away again in Feb, send their kids to sleep away camp AND take a summer vacation. We don’t even live in one of the more expensive towns in the county because we never moved out of our starter home. It can frustrating to live around here because the national numbers say one thing about us, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way in our community,

  62. I like to eat breakfast (usually shredded wheat), no/small lunch, and then regular size dinner. I always feel weird having a salad or smaller dinner (esp if the kids are eating) so this works better for me. I can’t eat oatmeal/bagel etc. for breakfast because I’ll get hungry again immediately, but having shredded wheat is fine until lunch. I miss when I was nursing and I could eat 3 meals a day plus snacks!

    My mom used to be ALL ABOUT planning all the meals, when we came to visit but especially when there was more than one sibling (+ spouse + applicable small kids) visiting. Every meal for the week would be planned out in advance. I usually don’t plan more than a day in advance except at holiday time, so it was really hard to get dragged back in to the 3-big-meals-a-day paradigm. Since my dad retired they are more relaxed, though, and way more willing to go out to dinner with the whole family.

  63. Ada – I can’t take that long to decide on where to eat. After an hour I’d be tantruming and hangry. :)

  64. I have tried skipping breakfast but then my tummy starts to growl. All these years, I have alternated between oatmeal and grits. On the rare occasion I eat a full breakfast (pancakes or bacon and eggs) I am full till dinner time and definitely have to be twice as active during the day to feel less full. Can’t have that during a work day. I use portion control/lighter meals rather skipping a meal entirely.

  65. “There’s cheese, crackers, fruit, yogurt, cereal. Have at it.”

    We call this ‘fend for yourself night,’ and it happens at least once/week in our house. Our kids don’t love it, because those boys LOVE their momma’s cooking, but it’s good for them to learn making dinner, and cleaning up afterwards, takes effort.

    And as a result, this
    I’ll ask my son if x is ok for dinner the next night before I go to the store, and might not have a backup if he doesn’t want it, which might piss him off.

    never happens in my house. No one gets mad if I’m cooking – they appreciate it.

  66. I get up at 5am. THere is no way I could face food at that hour. Bleh! So I wait until mid morning and have something light at that point.

  67. I always cook unless we are gettting takeout, but my kids really help a lot. They are totally useful in the kitchen at this point, although I hadn’t realized how much I enjoy cooking with my oldest until he came back from college last week. Always pleasant and totally competent. We made these fancy middle easter meatballs to take on Christmas Eve. All 3 kids rolled meatballs, but he did all the frying, and did an excellent job.

  68. Yeah, that was my initial reaction. But after five days of talking about food seemingly nonstop, I was fed up. Go figure.

    Milo, have a little compassion. If you were fed up after five days, think about how people who have to deal with this every single day must feel.

    It’s hard enough when they are at home and in full control of the kitchen, but it’s another level of stress when they are visiting people who aren’t used to dealing with it, so they have to be extra vigilant that nothing slips through. My niece has serious allergies to soy and peanuts along with some other stuff. They were out for a week this summer and the amount of time SIL spent dealing with it was really eye opening.

    She need to check ingredients on everything we used for cooking. We wanted to go to Casa Bonita, and she had to call to find out what, if anything, niece could eat, which was a solid 10 minutes. (There was one thing on the menu she could eat). We went someplace that had an ice cream shop, and SIL needed to ask about the ingredients to see if there were any flavors that were safe for niece. And then she needed to ask if the scoops were shared between the flavors, which they were, so niece couldn’t have anything because of cross-contamination.

    When they are home, SIL knows their kitchen is safe. She knows what restaurants they can go to and which dishes niece can eat. When they are traveling, she has to be on high alert the whole time.

    DD has celiac but fortunately it’s relatively mild, so we just need to make sure things are gluten-free (cross-contamination doesn’t seem to cause her problems) and that’s tiring enough. But what SIL has to deal with is insane. I was exhausted by it after a week, I can’t imagine having to live my whole life that way.

    Maybe your in-laws were a little over the top about it, I don’t know. And I can understand your frustration with hearing about it constantly. But if you got fed up just listening to them talk about it, think about how fed up you would get if you have to read the ingredients on every single thing you buy at the grocery store, and you have to quiz the waiter at every restaurant to make sure you can safely eat something. For the rest of your life, not just five days.

  69. “but it’s good for them to learn making dinner, and cleaning up afterwards, takes effort.”

    DH has started a program in our household in which one of our kids makes dinner once a week. So, Kid 1 makes dinner one day in Week 1, Kid 2 makes dinner one day in Week 2, then it’s back to Kid 1 for Week 3, and so on. The kids get to choose what to make. They make pretty simple things — for example, last time DS cooked, he browned some hamburger meat, added pasta sauce from a jar, and boiled some spaghetti. DD made waffles. DH or I will supervise and advise, but the kids have to do most of the hands-on work themselves.

    I was skeptical that the kids could handle this, but DH’s idea has ended up being a good one. Nothing like having to make dinner to make the kids realize that dinner doesn’t make itself.

  70. I’m firmly in the “need to eat breakfast camp”. I get up at 5:30 and I always eat breakfast, usually a bowl of cereal.

  71. DD,

    I took some sort of allergy or intolerance for dairy and soy. to mean it’s all in her head.

  72. Once I started eating low carb, I could go longer between meals, but I’ve always been in the “need to eat breakfast camp”. The low carb things does mess with three meals a day. I generally get up, have a cup of coffee, ride the exercise bike, eat somewhat later, and then I’m not hungry again until 2ish. If I eat that late, then I won’t want dinner until 8ish, which makes everyone else cranky. I’m starting to have some hard boiled eggs or nuts and then make dinner at 6ish.

    And I ask the others what they want for dinner because I have no idea what to cook. I’ll be happy to make most things, but I need some inspiration.

  73. Rhett,

    “I took some sort of allergy or intolerance for dairy and soy. to mean it’s all in her head.”

    For years, my son had some sort or allergy or intolerance to red food dye. Yes I got to be THAT mom. If he ate something with red dye, his ears would turn red and his mouth felt funny. Red dye is in EVERYTHING, especially junk food that kids like, e.g. oreos and red licorice. It got really old to read every ingredient list of foods and meds. Some of it we should have figured out without using DS as a crash test dummy. I mean, since purple is a combo of red and blue, then purple benadryl is just not going to help the kid after he’s eaten something red.

  74. have a little compassion. If you were fed up after five days, think about how people who have to deal with this every single day must feel.

    … if you got fed up just listening to them talk about it, think about how fed up you would get if you have to read the ingredients on every single thing you buy at the grocery store, and you have to quiz the waiter at every restaurant to make sure you can safely eat something. For the rest of your life, not just five days.

    Yes! This! I learned about this before it became my sister’s life (part of why they like Disney is the scrupulous attention to these kinds of needs, so they can order her food ahead or talk to the chef). I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this on here before. We had a kid spend the night with us, because after a head injury, his brother was getting ALL the attention at home, and they could scarcely move, so I figured big brother might need to get his wiggles out. Anyway, while we were talking about little brother being in the hospital, I asked if he’d ever gone to the hospital. “Yes; I ate something that had peanut butter in it”. You’d better believe I checked every ingredient of everything every time we ever saw them after that. It doesn’t take much imagination to picture what a pain scrutinizing everything so closely all the time would be.

    NoB, that’s awesome! During the worst stages of anxiety (knock wood that it’s really over!), DS would not eat, let alone make, any of those things! Graham crackers, peanut butter, milk, and one kind of cereal, occasionally plain pasta, in his room–scarcely the situation Lark imagines. A far, far cry from the family dinners of my childhood. And no, Rhett, no one forced us to eat things we didn’t like.

    I don’t think she meant it that way. Thanks, Rhett!

  75. Food allergies and intolerance are not in someone’s head, at least not any more than they are in the rest of a person’s body. They are physical responses that there are lab tests for. They aren’t always severe, but the responses can vary in intensity–what causes bumpy lips one day can be a disaster a week later.

  76. Cassandra,

    Oh there are certainly people (like your son) with legitimate allergies. And then there are bored retirees drifting into hypochondria. Or there is my old co-worker who was “allergic” to Indian food.

  77. Forgot to ask L–what do you have with a bagel? I bet the reason Shredded Wheat (which also has plenty of carbs) works for you is that you eat it with milk, so you have protein and maybe some fat to balance out the carbs. Try some lox on the bagel.

  78. Rhett – it’s definitely physiological with MIL. My ambiguity was not to suggest doubt, but instead convey that I’m not sure it is technically an allergy, as the effects are not what we think of as a dangerously heightened immuno response. It will instead cause inflammation, and maybe a mild but persistent cough for a couple weeks. Maybe that’s also an allergic reaction?

    DD -I’ve been compassionate and supportive. I went shopping coordinating with her about ingredients, I made Christmas dinner and crab cakes with special approved ingredients, I found a new restaurant to try that everyone would like and whose preparation methods could be trusted.

    The issue is not dangerous or scary. The conversations about it are not based on fear, but rather because they seek to think that it’s endlessly interesting to us. In that sense, it’s nothing new; MIL has ALWAYS talked about food endlessly.

    I was simply venting that I’m sick of talking about food after five days. Originally it was on the topic of how I’m thinking people really need something to focus on in retirement besides their health issues, which is what launched this tangent.

    SM – if I misunderstood your tone, that’s my fault. I got a snarky sense from you from multiple comments, starting with your take on how “most people would have reacted.”

  79. NoB, having the kids make meals seems like really good parenting in that you are getting them ready for the world. However, how is the actual food? Are you enough of a foodie to just want something good to eat rather than simple dishes? I have found a hard part of parenting is that teaching/making/letting the kids do stuff results in, at least in the beginning, a really low quality product. Has there been a rapid learning curve to get to good dinners?

  80. Milo, I realized as the last of those went up that it was a string of negative comments. Unintentional, but it was. My intent with the “most people” thing was basically what DD said much more forcefully–have some compassion!
    On the following, however, I think we have a real disagreement: Are you saying that this “inconvenience” is just something a person should live with? “It will instead cause inflammation [of what?], and maybe a mild but persistent cough for a couple weeks.” You are right that it isn’t death, but it sure doesn’t sound comfortable either, and if that’s what one hit of the stuff would do, imagine if she had several! Also, remember that she is older than you. Idk how much, but I’m convinced pain is more painful as we age.

  81. SM – I accept that the conveyed tone was unintentional.

    Now, on the other part…do you guys just want to argue??? Where did I suggest that the adverse effects of these foods should just be “lived with”? Obviously, she should avoid those foods. I totally support that.

    People “vent” on here all. the. time. Why is it that I can’t seem to without a bunch of criticism?

  82. I completely see where Milo is coming from and validate that people can and do talk about food all the time, especially when there is a food allergy/intolerance involved. I have a family member who for years would not stop talking about her celiac disease. Then her child was diagnosed with a learning disability and now that is all she talks about. Some people who don’t have a lot going on will find one thing to be the ENTIRE focus of their life.

    On the opposite side of the table I have a family member just recently diagnosed with a corn allergy. Now corn is in everything. Corn starch, corn syrup, dextrose. It is even in baking powder. At Christmas she quietly asked the host to see the wrap the ham came in, and then ate some fruit, carrots and a potato. Never once bringing attention to it.

  83. Rhett – it’s definitely physiological with MIL.

    But psychological and physiological are so closely linked. There could be a small physiological reaction such that if she was down in Cabo having the time of her life she wouldn’t even notice it. But if it’s a short cold dark day in December and she’s watched all the Hallmark movies, she could get all worked up to the point that the small reaction is having a magnified physiological impact.

    It’s sort of like the old days of therapy where you had to dwell on every trauma. Now they are all about letting go and moving on. It’s best not to make it the focus of your life.

    Obviously if you have a problem and cutting out soy fixes it. Knock yourself out. But also consider there may be other lifestyle changes that could be closer to the root of the problem.

  84. Regarding the comments on $35K boat and no savings, visiting my in-laws last week was such an eye opener on different family’s views of savings. Several of the families were very open about the fact that they don’t save a penny. One group goes on cruises twice a year, with a few short trips in between. Another buys expensive toys, and enjoys minor luxuries like frequent dining out, mani-pedis, etc. They are pressuring their daughter to join the military because they didn’t save anything for college. They literally have a crisis over things like broken appliances or new tires for the car. It is so hard to hold in all my questions about what they plan to do when they retire. I’m risk-averse enough to have felt vaguely panicked on their behalf.

    For what it’s worth, I didn’t take Milo’s comments to indicate he didn’t care. My MIL talked only of medical ailments for years. I could simultaneously care about what she was going through and find that talking about nothing but that got old.

  85. I have to look at 20 menus to find the one that has the most interesting, appealing and appropriately valued food. One doesn’t rush into such decisions! Total FOMO. I can be happy at any restaurant. I don’t get hangry looking at menus – it is fun to think about and compare. And I try to get an early start! Probably some deep over-reaction to my father’s (and brother’s) extreme pickiness. As a family, we have to choose places that will have something they can eat (which excludes basically every single ethnic restaurant. I was 20 before I ever had Chinese food.)

  86. Milo – totally got where you were going with that. I really want to be careful that I never forget that my medical problems, my dietary preferences, my undiagnosed symptoms are not actually interesting conversation for just about any one, and certainly not for any prolonged duration.

  87. Rhett – I see what you’re saying, but this has seemed more specific. She was having a lot of issues: cough, reflux, and a bunch of other things for a long time with no diagnosis. Ended up seeing some person who said she needs to go total elimination for a while. For two weeks, I think she (and I think poor FIL — they both seem to insist on a degree of solidarity) ate nothing but grilled chicken breasts with no sauce or seasoning. Then they added things back one by one, like grilled shrimp, waiting a week at a time. It was quite a process. Immediately with something that had soy, soybean oil, soy lecithin, vegetable oil blends (often soybean oil), etc., the cough and other things came back and lingered for days.

  88. “For what it’s worth, I didn’t take Milo’s comments to indicate he didn’t care. My MIL talked only of medical ailments for years. I could simultaneously care about what she was going through and find that talking about nothing but that got old.”

    Right. I’m sorry about all these issues people are living with but it can be difficult to hear about it all the time.

    “I really want to be careful that I never forget that my medical problems, my dietary preferences, my undiagnosed symptoms are not actually interesting conversation for just about any one, and certainly not for any prolonged duration.”

    Yes! I used to be very critical of old people incessantly talking about their health conditions, aches and pains and procedures. I vowed never to be that way, but sometimes I do get sucked into it. I know people who go on and on about other topics, like minute details about their boring jobs and the boring people they work with. And the jokes about vegans and crossfitters exist for a reason.

  89. Ada, I totally get your FOMO! I can drive people nuts by continuing to look at alternatives when a perfectly good option has been selected, generally with things other than food. It’s especially bad when it is with something where the distinctions matter to me more than to whoever I’m with. For your dining companions, I suppose it doesn’t matter if you look at all the menus because you like everything or don’t like any of it–the resultant wait time is the same. I do this weird thing where I get more picky as I get hungrier. Ordinarily, I eat pretty much any non-meat thing you put in front of me, but when I’m super hungry, only one thing will do. I could agree to the first few places you showed me, but after an hour, reject them all.

    Milo, I didn’t mean to take away your right to complain–that’s a sacred function of this site. But you complaining about your MiL instead of commiserating with her and complaining about the ubiquity of soy did set me off, you’re right. The first part of that relates to the way food allergies are often written off as unimportant, so people claim to be respecting them, but then figure they can slide in a little x and the person won’t notice. When it’s a physical thing, as it is with your MiL, the body will notice & react. They might not know what it was, but they will certainly see that something is wrong. I hear you now that you did all the things necessary to keep her straight, but your opening statement sounded a lot like what people say as they’re writing someone off. An elimination diet is hard core. She must’ve been really bothered to be able to stick with that in order to avoid the symptoms.

    You might recall that a few years ago I started having problems with gluten, and then corn & rice starting coming right back up whenever I ate them. Weirdly, that all resolved itself after a few months (or a year+? I can’t remember) of avoiding the offenders. I don’t think that’s the way it works for most people. For me, it was a problem as mealtime approached and I wondered what in samhill I was supposed to eat. But my little sister, the one I rarely talk to, swooped in with all sorts of support, so much that I eventually asked what was going on. Turns out that when she learned she has celiac, it was really, really upsetting to her. I don’t remember the specifics. Might’ve been “my body is betraying me”, might’ve been the first time in her life in our UMC white bubble upbringing that continued into her marriage that she ever felt unsafe about anything in her world. Maybe those kinds of things are scaring your MiL, or maybe it’s brought on the whole face-to-face with mortality that some people go through as they get older, who knows. I know she didn’t snivel and say she was scared, but continuing to talk about something when the pragmatic problems are resolved sure sounds like it come out of fear. But now we are veering off the physical into the “recognize that not everyone experiences the world the same way you do” rant about the way people, especially kids, who learn differently are treated. So yeah, your comment touched on a couple things for me that trump “this guy wants to bitch about stuff”.

  90. July, that meme is hilarious! I try to treat my vegetarianism the way Ada and Lemon’s friend treat their food issues–very quietly.

  91. Milo, thanks for your clarification and I apologize if I was a bit harsh. It sounded to me like you were downplaying her allergy – as Rhett is – and that is a trigger for me.

    Rhett, the next time DD accidentally eats some gluten and ends up spending a few hours on the toilet, I’ll let her know that she is only having massive diarrhea because she’s not on vacation in Cabo.

  92. Y’all. “I have compassion for this person’s situation” and “this person’s situation is wearing me down and driving me crazy” can both be true. Everything Milo described indicates he acted with compassion toward his MIL IRL.

  93. To go back our totebag riff on the OP, namely what keeps you going when you no longer have to work to provide for yourself and your family, I am completely baffled as to how voluntary retirement, especially early retirement, is anything but an unalloyed delight. I understand that there are people who have to go through a mourning period after leaving the job – mourning for a circle of work friends, status, their particular well-suited daily intellectual challenge, and if they are WOH, the need to leave the den. Many of those approaching retirement observe parents and aunts/uncles who play golf or bridge or go on cruises or take care of the grandkids or engage in serial remodeling projects, and often they judge those activities as repetitive filler. What is the difference other than age between Hallmark movies and binge watching streaming series or playing online games? The old people may be just as eye glazed by conversations about college search or individual educational plans or workplace or pop culture as the younger generation is with stories about ailments/diseases and over 60 pastimes. Unaccustomed togetherness over a holiday can amplify the lack of overlap in conversational topics.

  94. “Unaccustomed togetherness over a holiday can amplify the lack of overlap in conversational topics.” Ding ding ding! This is what always happens when we visit DH’s brother’s family (or worse, when his mom and stepdad visit). We fall back on the kids or our shared vacation plans (to talk about dates, etc.) as a ‘safe’ conversational topic, which is also what I do when I see the kids’ friends’ moms with whom I am friendly but not friends (this is most of them – sigh).

    S&M, to me lox + bagel is a brunch (lunch) food and not breakfast. I find if I add protein to breakfast I have to wait a couple more hours to eat it so it feels more like brunch.

  95. “Unaccustomed togetherness over a holiday can amplify the lack of overlap in conversational topics.”

    +1. Even within the same set of (now adult, i.e. us) siblings life approach/priorities can be so disparate that finding common ground on something more satisfying than the weather or our parents’ conditions can be hard.

  96. DD,

    I don’t have celiac but I do have another auto-immune disorder and in my case my mental state and the manifestation of symptoms are closely related. If I’m suddenly exposed to stress I can feel it getting worse. I’d be very surprised if one’s mental state had no impact on the severity of one’s reaction to gluten among those with celiac. Not that celiac isn’t a totally real thing. Which it of course is.

  97. “I have to look at 20 menus to find the one that has the most interesting, appealing and appropriately valued food. One doesn’t rush into such decisions! Total FOMO. I can be happy at any restaurant. I don’t get hangry looking at menus – it is fun to think about and compare.”

    This is totally me! I love to research restaurants. If it is something planned, I often start a day or two in advance. I enjoy sites like Yelp – I like looking at the photos and seeing the reviews.

  98. Cassandra — Re. the quality of the food that our kids make on “their” dinner night: It’s actually OK because they either follow recipes, or else do something really simple. I’ve helped them identify recipes that they like that are easy to make, and often they choose those. Or they decide to do something that’s pretty fool-proof (i.e. DS’ idea to just brown hamburger meat and add it to spaghetti sauce from a jar). And DH or I are there to supervise to make sure things don’t go off the rails.

    I’m someone who likes a good, hearty dinner, but having kid–prepared food once a week is fine. I’m the one responsible for getting dinner on the table M-F, so it’s nice to have the weekend off. (DH does the other weekend night.)

  99. DH’s family has found that 3 days/long weekend is the max everyone can get along and 1. still go home happy 2. Be satisfied that they have seen the parents and the kids have seen their cousins.
    My nephew and niece are allergic to a number of things. Now, they have had allergy shots and report that they are no longer allergic to eggs.
    When they were little, the family was way more afraid that they would unintentionally eat something that would cause a reaction. So far only one slip up has happened and thankfully niece ate only a tiny bit of the offending item. What helps is basic home country cooking avoids dairy, eggs, peanuts and gluten based items in many dishes. So we can safely cook allergen free dishes when niece and nephew come over.

  100. Louise, “visitors are like fish; after 3 days, they both begin to stink”–attributed to Mark Twain.

    L, so the bfast Shredded Wheat is without protein/milk?

  101. Rhett, sure, nerves can set off physical responses. But that doesn’t mean every physical issue is psychosomatic.

  102. THIS – Many of those approaching retirement observe parents and aunts/uncles who play golf or bridge or go on cruises or take care of the grandkids or engage in serial remodeling projects, and often they judge those activities as repetitive filler.

    One person’s filler is another person’s passion/hobby/etc. However, some retired people (my dad was one and to an extent my SO is as well) will tell you it is all repetitive filler (in slightly different words) and they don’t know what to do with themselves without a job.

  103. SM – I forgot about that saying ! But it’s true. I feel sad that it has to be this way but relieved that we all came to the unsaid agreement that a once a year meeting for 3 days works best.

  104. My parents live in a tony little suburb filled with retired executives. One of the problems the retirees have is that what they have enjoyed doing were always tied to their career. So they typically don’t make good volunteers or want to work at Culvers because they are used to be the top guy, the one who orders people around and delegates. Instead they fill their days arguing with the home owners association or the city council, which I guess can be seen as giving them something to do.

  105. “What is the difference other than age between Hallmark movies and binge watching streaming series or playing online games?”

    That’s the unanswerable question. It’s another version of Rhett’s “what’s wrong with your 13 year old staying home all summer to watch The Price is Right?

  106. Instead they fill their days arguing with the home owners association or the city council, which I guess can be seen as giving them something to do.

    That’s my FIL.

  107. “What is the difference other than age between Hallmark movies and binge watching streaming series or playing online games?”

    Who says there’s a difference, and why? To me, the online games can have an advantage if they are a step leading to a social life.

  108. I’d be very surprised if one’s mental state had no impact on the severity of one’s reaction to gluten among those with celiac.

    Then I guess you’d be very surprised. Having seen DD’s reactions first hand, I can assure you that they are not affected by her mental state.

  109. I am completely baffled as to how voluntary retirement, especially early retirement, is anything but an unalloyed delight.

    My dad has been retired for 20 years and he’s loved every minute of it. My mom thoroughly enjoyed her retirement until she died.

  110. DD,

    People with these types of severe stress had a 36 percent higher chance of developing one or more of 41 autoimmune diseases—the name for a range of conditions in which the immune system starts attacking itself and healthy cells—including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, and celiac disease.

    Stress can cause celiac to manifest itself.

    https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2685155

  111. Who says there’s a difference, and why?

    Among some there is the sense that leisure should be entirely deferred. You can’t stay home and watch the price is right you need to go to Calculus Camp so you can get into a good STEM program and then get a good job so you can max out your 401k and retire when you’re 55 and spend the next 40 years doing nothing. The other theory is you have your whole life to be busy with a job and kids and whatever so if you have a few months of downtime as a kid that’s great. There is no need to defer all your leisure till the end of your life.

  112. Rhett, which is analogous to work and which is leisure, between the options given: Hallmark movies, streaming videos, and playing on-line games?
    On the study you cited: “Stress can cause celiac to manifest itself. ” That doesn’t mean it does cause it. According to the little snippet you posted, it apparently does not bring it on in about 2/3 the cases.

  113. SM,

    You need to be genetically susceptible to begin with and then stress on top of that can trigger it.

  114. Rhett, yes, but that is the minority of cases–no reason to assume that a woman you’ve never met is experiencing symptoms primarily for psychological reasons.

  115. I agree with Meme’s question as to why voluntary retirement doesn’t hold more appeal for some. I need to be busy to be happy, but I am so looking forward to being on my own time schedule, and choosing where I want to focus my effort on any given day. I will allocate more time to learning than I can now. I totally understand the need to feel engaged, I just wouldn’t spend my time in pursuit of income if I didn’t have to.

  116. woman you’ve never met is experiencing symptoms primarily for psychological reasons.

    Why are psychological reasons and more or less real than any other reasons? I’m surprised you’re drawing such a stark distinction between psychological and physiological. They are very closely related and both very real.

  117. My MIL who sees herself as a home maker has no concept of retirement. She has become obsessed with cleaning. To me it’s a filler and a way for her to kill time. But she doesn’t see it that way at all and to her it’s preferable to fill her time with something where she can see the results rather than watching the latest movie.

  118. Lemon’s comment at 956 describes my ILs’ background. They started their company almost 50 yrs ago…it’s still going strong and seems like the pass down to the next generation will be successfully executed.

    For the first ~40 of those years there was lots of/constant travel for FIL and frequently, especially in yrs 20-40, MIL would also go along as the accompanying spouse. They had a lot of friends because of these professional relationships and were used to flying first class everywhere, eating at great restaurants all the time, going to ‘chef’s tables’, golfing at famous clubs/courses. Now they’re 80, don’t get around very well, the friends, or maybe I should say “friends” are the same, some have died. Anyway, because so much of the past almost half century has been wrapped up in the business, they honestly have little to do and don’t want to do much because they can’t get around like they used to. And they’re not interested in fighting city hall, so they really do a lot of nothing all day, and neither is a reader.

  119. Rhett, here is the conclusion of the study:

    Conclusions and Relevance In this Swedish cohort, exposure to a stress-related disorder was significantly associated with increased risk of subsequent autoimmune disease, compared with matched unexposed individuals and with full siblings. Further studies are needed to better understand the underlying mechanisms.

    First, the correlation is with stress-related disorders, defined as “Diagnosis of stress-related disorders, ie, posttraumatic stress disorder, acute stress reaction, adjustment disorder, and other stress reactions.” These are much different than regular daily life stressors that can be alleviated by a trip to Cabo.

    Second, it mentions nothing about the severity of the illness symptoms being related to the amount of stress the person is under at that particular time, which is what you are claiming.

    I agree that psychological and physiological issues are often related. However, if someone goes into anaphylactic shock from eating a peanut, that’s not going to change because they are lying on the beach instead of having a hectic day at work.

  120. However, if someone goes into anaphylactic shock from eating a peanut, that’s not going to change because they are lying on the beach instead of having a hectic day at work.

    True but the vast majority of allergic reactions don’t rise to that level. They range from very mild to severe/deadly. Where they fall on that spectrum can and often is impacted by things like stress level.

  121. Lots of diseases can have an entirely physical cause but still flare up when one is tired or under stress. I think that is especially true of chronic conditions. I have been dealing with odd aftereffects of that CSF leak for 8 months now – something that was completely physical, and was greatly improved by a physical treatment – but the symptoms I have now are much worse when I am tired. I have had friends with things like lupus who say the same – flares often happen when tired and stressed. Anaphylatic shock is an outlier because it happens so fast and is so physically overwhelming that there isn’t much potential for factors like tiredness or stress to play a role.

  122. Physical discomfort/pain especially when the cause has not been pinpointed causes stress which becomes a cycle. You were fine one day, now are in pain from something, it’s stresses you out which magnifies the symptoms. When DS got sick, the doctors were asking about stress/bullying. I was politely firm and told them to first concentrate on the diagnosis or lack therefore which was causing the stress and not the other way around.

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