Thursday open thread

What’s on your mind?


90 thoughts on “Thursday open thread

  1. WSJ had an article about Six Ways to Improve Air Travel Instantly. This part got me thinking about the best way to rebook if your flight is delayed, cancelled, or you’re bumped. It seems you always have to speak to a person because it’s too complicated for the app. So that means either a phone call or a visit to the help desk at the airport. And before you call I think searching Google Flights for any alternatives to your booked airline would be a good ideas. It can’t hurt to ask. Any tips from expert travelers?

    I was not familiar with the term “interlining” before now.

    Bring back interlining.Interlining is when one airline sends a customer to another carrier because of a flight cancellation or overbooking. It lessens disruption, and used to be required before 1978, when the industry was regulated. Now most airlines say they’ll do it only at their own discretion, which is to say rarely, and only for their best customers. Southwest flat-out doesn’t do it.

    When your flight gets canceled, airlines typically say you get the next available seat. Except with full flights and priority systems that rebook people with high fares and high status first, fliers might have to wait a couple of days for the next available plane. Meanwhile, other airlines may have flights leaving with empty seats.

    You can buy a ticket yourself on another airline and get a refund for your canceled flight. But that can be expensive. Airlines charge each other much lower prices so they can deal with disruptions expeditiously. They should do it more.

  2. I traveled a lot from the mid 80s to the early 90s. Even though the requirement to interline a passenger, it was technically Rule 240 IIRC, ended in 1978 I was regularly transferred between airlines when a non-weather snafu came up. Not always of course because there wasn’t always capacity or a logical switch to be made, but often enough that I noticed when it went away. Also, frequent flyer ‘status’ wasn’t as prevalent in the airlines’ thought process ~30 years ago.

  3. We’ve actually had interlining happen a couple of times in the last few years. One time was a FAIL because they re-routed my child on an airline that she wasn’t old enough to travel unaccompanied one. One was a HUGE SUCCESS because it got my child to Denmark only 6 hours behind the time she was supposed to get there with her group.

  4. Those of you with active families, how do you deal with and coordinate between the various apps each group/sport/club uses? My DD#2 had a snafu this past week, which I initially chalked up to her executive function issues. But, on further discussion, I realized it was a challenging situation for anyone. For her:

    Band – Uses an email system to send out the weekly update (sometimes more often), a calendar on the website that has no notification system for when it is updated, and a specific app similar to whats app or FB that more frequent reminders or information or pictures come out on. And the

    School – Uses one system for “official grades” and in theory if it ends up as “missing” here it REALLY is missing, another system for sending out assignments and recording grades of assignments done on line, that eventually make it to the “official grades” page, and the administration sends out a weekly “newsletter” and daily announcements by email, and the teachers send emails that either stand alone or are notification of a change to one of the other electronic systems. And, then there are the teachers that solely use the “I told you in class or its written on the board” process.

    Scouts – She’s involved in 3 scout activities at the moment – two use the same group text app, but it isn’t the same as the band’s, but one of them requires you to check another site on a weekly basis, and third group uses regular email.

    DD#2 has gotten better about updating her calendar, but this week the issue was about timing and which method of communication has higher priority. She saw change #2 in one app before she saw change #1 in another app that affected the same event. Because of the delay in one system’s distribution, it really did look like change#1 was the LAST change. As a result, she was not some where when she should have been and she is arguing with the adult in charge that she shouldn’t be penalized (along with about 1/4 of the kids involved).

  5. For it to work the public would have to look beyond the price of the ticket. Do you fly Frontier and save $20 with a 0.5% risk of being stuck in Orlando for 4 days or do you spend $20 on a “full service airline” that doesn’t bump, inter lines, etc. The public really wants to save the money.

    I’m surprised corporate contracts to require interlining. But maybe it’s cheaper to just pay the walk-up fare when it’s required.

  6. Austin – you bring up an excellent point (and a topic on its own). My kids are still too young to be fully involved in calendar management. She has her homework and classroom assignments in her chromebook. But, as a parent, I’m constantly having to check multiple sites/apps or track emails. I feel like I’m losing my mind most of the time.

    School – there are some teachers that email weekly. Some update their website daily. Some teachers also use Dojo app, or SeeSaw, or Remind. I also get weekly emails from the school, and every other week emails from PTO. Then there are the random Room Parent emails, and emails from the band or choir teacher. There is one district login for midterm and final grades. Another district login for standardized test results. Another district login for lunch fees (new this year, I no longer get a reminder that i’m below $0, and I can’t do auto payment if it falls below $0).

    Sports/Activitites – no apps, but lots of email and Facebook updates that requires monitoring.For Girl Scouts I get emails from the troop leaders, emails from the Cookie Parents, emails from the Local Council, and emails from the Regional District.

    I bet I get anywhere between 25-50 emails or notifications a week regarding school or activities for my kids. Its all too much, and I do miss important emails because of it all.

  7. OK, this may be a naïve question, but why are so many updates and emails needed? Set the schedule for the relevant period, stick to it, send alerts only for cancellations/ emergencies.

  8. Lemon Tree – I left some off – we too have remind, the standardized test login (state, plus SAT and ACT), then she has Naviance (college prep – that also has assignments inside it), and her IB website that she has to enter information in.

    Now, I am feeling even more on my kids side.

    Even though my child is 95% in charge of her calendaring, there are still other communications that come to me and not to her that also have to get funneled into the mix.

  9. Interesting about the e-mails/apps. I get close to none. We get an e-mail at the beginning of the month from each head of school that lists important updates and dates. Otherwise, everything is on-line on the school website. And there’s really nothing at all I need to check.

    For sports, I handle nothing with oldest DS. He’s on a group text that includes his coach, but even in that there’s nothing I would need to know about. It’s always stuff like, remember we’re the away team/home team (we often play on neutral courts where it’s not obvious), or when you get to the gym meet at the back entrance, etc.

    Younger DH the practice schedule is set at the beginning of the season, and for changes the coach just sends an e-mail to the parents. We’ve had a couple e-mails throughout the season and that’s it.

    There’s a big emphasis at our school on having kids handle their own assignments, communications, etc. so we never get e-mails from teachers about that kind of thing. Sometimes the Spanish teacher sends an e-mail that says “Parents, be sure to check out the videos on the website of us doing XYZ because it’s so cute you won’t want to miss it.”

  10. Our elementary school has Remind – I only get the emails since I don’t like the notifications on my phone etc. Mostly for 1st grade the remind notification is what they did in class, with a picture. The teachers also use google classroom and my 3rd grader is already keeping track of that every day. My 5th grader (middle school) has a giant binder with 7 sections, one for each class, and a planner where she writes everything. I don’t get emails from activities unless soccer is cancelled because of weather. The dance studio texts our nanny instead. ;)

  11. Kerri – It is not just schedule that comes out in these emails/notifications, but homework assignments, club meetings, which band music to prepare for the sectionals, which tshirt to wear for the pep rally, what time and day your cookie booth is, notice that the room sign up for the band trip is posted and you must sign up in the next 48 hours, you have a missing grade, date and process to sign up to take AP tests, mulch fundraiser needs more parent volunteers, and the list goes on.

  12. Lark – Now that DD#2 is in high school, I get very few related to her. My beef so to speak is the number of things SHE has to monitor whether it is websites or group texts or emails. Until this most recent snafu, I didn’t realize how many different lines of communication she was dealing with to stay on top of what is on her plate.

  13. I get one daily email from the school detailing academic reminders at the top, the bottom half is sports, activities and PTO news. So, all in one. Kids handle their own communication from their teachers via a school portal or school email box. Grades are posted online usually after each assignment.
    Some teachers ask if you as a parent want to receive communication and if you do, you can opt in.
    Also having older kids, hardly any sign up emails for in class activities which has greatly cut down school related emails.

  14. We have the same problem with activity info, and this is just dealing with one kid. The problem escalated now that she is in the HS and playing sports. Some info comes directly to her from a coach via text. Or, it might come from a captain. There are clubs and activities with officers that only want to communicate via FB. DD and her friends are not interested in FB, but they all joined when they entered our HS because so many extra curriculars communicate vis FB. I recently found out at the last minute that an event at our temple was an overnight vs. a late night. DD and her friends knew, but the parents were never informed because the youth director deals with the kids. I spend more time checking with DD now that she is in HS because she has so much more information than I receive since it generally goes directly to the kids. I am sure it will all be much easier once she drives in a couple of years.

  15. Did anyone else get this Motley Fool ad with the blog? I was most of the way through it before I figured out that it wasn’t placed there by Meme or July. The guy has the same obnoxious selling voice as diet or exercise ads. It’s about Apple possibly developing a car. What do you think?

  16. Kerri – one thing I learned from travel hockey, and I implemented when I was on the board of our little league, was: THE EVENT IS ON UNLESS WE NOTIFY YOU IT’S OFF. I think there are many people who, even though the event has been on the schedule for months, and all the other scheduled events have happened, want confirmation things are still a go if there’s (even a threat of) too cold/hot, snowy/rainy/windy weather.

  17. Re school and activity communications, fortunately my kids were able to keep on top of most of this stuff themselves but they did miss deadlines and assignments on occasion and I just assumed they weren’t paying attention or just dropped the ball. I was not very understanding. I really didn’t consider how much they were juggling – thanks for pointing that out, Austin.

    Re air travel, when my friends and I bought tickets for a recent trip we considered using Norwegian Air but ended up using Air France / Delta maily because the fine print said that if the NA flight was cancelled, NA had the option of just refunding the cost of the flight and it would be on us to find and pay for our way home on another carrier or we could wait until a seat became available on the limited service NA. Too much of a risk, so we went with the higher priced ticket (which wasn’t that higher – maybe $140). I wasn’t confident of how helpful the mainstream carriers would be if low cost NA had an issue and required their assistance.

  18. I sync all calendars to Google. DH and I manage both kids’ soccer teams, so we are in charge of the schedule. We use the TeamSnap app, which works great. I sync that to Google as well. I agree with Fred that the event it on unless told otherwise, but there still is a fair amount of communication as schedules get updated (new scrimmages, fields changing) or changed due to weather. I’m astounded, even though I shouldn’t be, at people’s lack of reading comprehension as well as their inability to RSVP for events. We ask people repeatedly to click on the button in the app saying if they’ll be at games or scrimmages, and they don’t do it (takes them 2 seconds). We spend a lot of time just tracking people down. It is super annoying, but I put up with it because there are benefits to being the manager such as creating the schedule that works best for our family.

    For baseball, we only get emails, which is more of a pain to track, but I try to update on Google and assume we have the game unless told otherwise.

    Our school switched to using the ParentSquare app for all school communications. It is nice that they consolidate everything; however, there are so many emails. I barely read any of them. I’m fortunate in that both kids are doing very well at school and manage their own homework, so I don’t need to hover over them and check that they are doing what they need to get done. If I had to monitor their work, I’d go crazy.

    We are on day 4 of no school. Monday we should have had school but that is because we received less snow than forecasted. Last year during a blizzard a few elementary busses in St. Paul didn’t drop kids off until 10 PM or later. The schools are pretty skittish to repeat that mistake. My kids have been on their iPads 24/7, and I’m trying unsuccessfully to get work done at home. We’ve been in the same pajamas for 3 days straight. It feels like a lost week or that time is standing still – sort of like being trapped in a casino where you lose track of time.

  19. For tracking activities that require the kids to be somewhere (band concerts, soccer practices, etc.) I use an actual paper calendar that hangs in the kitchen.

    DS (8th grade) tracks all his schoolwork. As long as he gets good grades, I stay out of it completely (this is his “reward” – no nagging from parents :-). And our reward too :-)

    DS school sends out a weekly email that I read about 3/4 of the time. This year I have made a conscious decision to stop reading all emails sent out by the central school district office as they rarely contain any useful information. Before, I rarely read them but felt guilty for not doing so. Now I feel no guilt and just delete them right away.

    Since we are now down to one kid at home and DS is involved in far fewer activities than his older sister, this part of life has gotten easier :-)

  20. My DD’s experience was similar to AustinMom’s DD, and it still burns me to this day. Particularly in MS, when they made such a big deal about how it was time for the kids to take responsibilty for their own work, but dumped so much logistical discoordination on the kids that even a normal kid would have struggled. The best part was the patronizing “the kids are growing up, we need to let them learn to manage on their own” I got when I’d raise a concern with a teacher. Thank goodness DS’ MS and DD’s HS now do only 4 classes a day (one of which is band/gym and so usually has no homework). SO much easier to keep track of everything.

    For activities, we have always managed that simply by limiting the number at any one time. Both DD and DS are now doing a lot more stuff before/after school, but it is all through the school, so DS has an activity bus, and DD has a parking pass and can drive herself.

    Continuing frustration: all of the “summer camps” that assume mom has nothing better to do than ferry the kid around all day. For the past several years, I have been looking at a number of the camps offered by the county for things like music or basketball or other things my kid might be interested in; the kids’ schools push the band camp in particular. And every year, it’s 9-1:30, or 9:30-2:30, or 12-3, or whatever, with parents responsible for transportation both ways.* So once again, he will be going to his regular privately-run camp, which at least offers full-day sessions and buses.

    *This year’s band camp at least offered buses from the local MSs — which is good, as the camp location is a solid 45 mins from here on the opposite side of the city. Unfortunately, those MSs are 2.5-3 miles away, which isn’t exactly feasible on his own with a tuba.

  21. @Seattle – I switched to a paper calendar ages ago. So much easier. Never offline. No glitches unless they are me!

  22. New Topic – How far in advance should I buy an Amtrak ticket? Catching a particular train is key to other travel plans. I know they can run behind and that is OK.

  23. For Amtrak, it totally depends on the route or type of trip. If the sleeping car or auto train, very far in advance. For northeast corridor(including Acela), it can be the same week or even same day unless it’s near a holiday. If near a holiday, bookknortheast corridor in advance. Students get a discount on trains in NY state. Where is this train going?

  24. LfB, I’m with you on all those half day or 6 hour summer camps. I guess they get enough enrollment with kids with SAH parents that they work out.

  25. My son just traveled from Montreal to NYC on Amtrak. He bought his ticket about two weeks in advance with no problem, but I suspect it was a relatively slower travel time. He mentioned the trains the day before his travel date were canceled due to bad weather. We joke about Amtrak’s unreliability on some of these routes, but maybe it’s just been our bad luck.

  26. Austin – It sounds overwhelming to me, I can’t imagine expecting a kid to handle it. So far my guys only participate in 1 afterschool activity. DH takes them to their weekend activity. Their school uses ParentSquare, which I like. THe school sends out a newsletter once a week and reminders for upcoming events, but its not a ton of emails.

    Homework, etc. is all on the kids. They’re expected to be on top of it. If a kid is missing something, there’s a note in their homework tracker and a parent signature required. There’s also a mid period report with all their grades, afterschool hours with the teachers and time to at least partially make up work. If its really bad, teachers might request parent signatures on tests/assignments. The teachers have generous make-up policies.

    I end up organizing the kids backpacks, binders, loose papers 1-2 times a week to help them stay on top of it. I also ask “Do I need to sign anything?” every evening. That helps jog their memories.

    LfB – I am SO with you on summer camps. Super frustrating trying to find one that goes full day.

  27. All these years the kids did camps at the Y. There were some that I managed to pick up half days but that was only a week, not the whole summer. DD wants to do a tennis camp but she will be forced to hang out at the pool till I can come get her. The tennis camp director told me that parents came to pick their kids up early so they stopped offering more than half days. DS will do CIT at the Y. There is gap for working parents because the whole day options for middle schoolers are limited.

  28. OT: You may recall my aversion to public speaking. I just came back from giving a presentation internally to ~ 40 people. It wasn’t long – 2 slides, ~15 minutes. I am WIPED OUT. I can’t believe I still have to be here for a few more hours.

  29. You guys need to move to the burbs, or send your kids via bus to the burb camps because they run for 6 to 8 weeks, provide a bus, and generally pick up the kids between 8/8:15 and they bring them home around 4:30. I know that kids tend to go to specialty camps around 7th/8th grade, but it is a great option until they age out of the all day camps. I am so spoiled but he 7 week sleep away thing, but this is the last summer that DD will be a camper. She was very intrigued but he presentation about science research at school, but that requires research during the summer and she wasn’t willing to give up the last summer of camp.

  30. Austin. The advance purchase non refundable one way fare is 38. The not at last minute fare is 54 with change fee. The fully refundable is 78. Is the reason for delaying the purchase an issue with her having to exit the dorm within x hours of the as yet unscheduled final exam, so you wont know the right day until a few days in advance? There should be seats available midweek in May.

  31. Good job, Kerri. I can completely identify with the stress and how it wipes out some of us. I’m doing a lot more speaking and presenting in this job. I did about 30 minutes this morning, and an hour after lunch. And I got back to my office and felt like I needed a nap.

    So often, it totally depends on the audience, too. Today I was generally getting encouraging body language reactions from just about everyone, except this one guy (in the front row, of course) who’s just scowling the entire time. I was doing everything I could to not make eye contact because he had the most unpleasant and discouraging expression. But then he wrote in his feedback that it was great, informative, helpful.

  32. Thanks Milo. It went better than expected. One of my career goals is to do more public speaking and become more comfortable doing it. I don’t know that I’ll ever be comfortable, but not dreading it is a good start.

  33. Great job Kerri!!! Speaking is tough, no one appreciates that. I have to do it a lot, and have been training/practicing for the past 15 or so years. And I still have trouble. The worst is “off the cuff” stuff, or being asked to prepare a presentation but not given a timeframe – am I speaking for 1 minute or 30 on a particular topic? SUPER stressful. And the more personal the presentation the worse it is for me (found that out at my Leadership program… thanks guys! {/sarcasm})

    Lauren – I envy all of you with your easy summer camps. I live in the ‘burbs and we do not have any of these types of camps, even for the late elementary, middle school, high school set. I don’t know why, but they don’t. And forget it if you have a kid with certain needs or restrictions. I’m seriously considering camps in MA.

    DS1 will cause another logistical nightmare this summer. DH and I are already trying to figure things out to keep him busy. My mom is a saint for being willing to ferry him to activities to keep him moving forward with his IEP (which really means making sure he’s around other people at activities, yet has a parent nearby). I hope gymnastics will continue and he’ll move up to the class without parent participation. He’s doing well “proving himself” in the parent-participation class (I basically stand to the side now). DS2 will be in daycare this summer, so I’m not too concerned with him.

  34. So it looks as though the January stock market has, more or less**, neutralized all of the 2018 losses. And now we’re exactly where we were 13 months ago, only now with a more favorable P/E.

    **my fund with international exposure has been pulled lower by that. the purely domestic stock funds have been ahead.

  35. Lauren said “She was very intrigued but he presentation about science research at school, but that requires research during the summer and she wasn’t willing to give up the last summer of camp.”

    Is that the ASR course? It is a 3 year commitment. My oldest did it, and really loved it. It was a really huge deal for him. But he also worked as a camp counselor in the summers so he was able to mix both. It helped that he didn’t do a lab based research project – he did a computer science project, so he could interact with the supervising professor remotely. Maybe your daughter could do that?

  36. “You guys need to move to the burbs, or send your kids via bus to the burb camps because they run for 6 to 8 weeks, provide a bus, and generally pick up the kids between 8/8:15 and they bring them home around 4:30.”
    I never found those camps, and I am out in the burbs!!! My kids did a YWCA camp when they were in early elementary school, which had no bus sevice but we could pick up at 6. After that, everything was either a noon pickup or a 3pm pickup. Well, except for the computer camp, which lets them stay until 9pm (a lot of kids are boarders) but it is expensive.

  37. Yeah, the general expectation from camps all around our exurb is that there is a SAHP (and I use the gender-neutral term generously). And that tends to either be accurate, or the mom is generally in a career, like teaching, that allows summer shuttling, or at least carpooling.

  38. DS1 is going to be teaching at the computer camp again this summer. It is likely his last summer, since the expectation after that is he will do paid internships. He is sad about it because he loves that camp. They have a real community there.
    DD will probably do some arts camps, and probably a couple of weeks at the computer camp too. She also really likes it, and is hoping to do the CIT to counselor route like her brother.
    I don’t know what to do with DS2. Last summer was so great for him – don’t know how to top that. He is considering applying to be a docent at a nearby historical church. I think he should do a mix of volunteering and a paid job, but trying to get him to do stuff is hard. Any ideas?

  39. Meme – Yes, uncertainty is around the move out and summer storage options. I fly in on Friday evening. Given what she has been told by others and I have read on the parent FB group, we could be done as early as noon Saturday or not until early Monday morning. Most likely scenario is we are done late on Saturday. But, then will have time to explore. The option DD#1 likes is to drive northward (upper NY state and/or Vermont) and catch the train at its last US stop on Monday about 3 pm. It will be a longish train ride for the distance, but about 3 times cheaper than taking a rental car across the border. I am booking flights and hotels now, so just wondered if I should book the train at the same time or if that can wait.

  40. Last summer was the year of no camp. DS wanted to build his own computer, which he did. DD played outside with neighbor kids the first part of summer. Then my brother and family visited so, that was a lot of day trips and a beach trip. The last part of the summer was hard, all the neighbors were not yet back and there was still time to kill before school. So, we did try the Rhett method of entertain yourself.
    This year it will be back to camp.

  41. Great Kerri!

    I was doing everything I could to not make eye contact because he had the most unpleasant and discouraging expression. But then he wrote in his feedback that it was great, informative, helpful.

    He probably has resting bitch face.

  42. I’ve gotten professional training on public speaking over the years but I don’t get a lot of opportunities to do it and put the training into practice. I have to really seek out opportunities. Today’s presentation was unusual. On Monday, a senior person unexpectedly asked me to speak at an already planned meeting today about a topic he and I were discussing.

    He insisted on a powerpoint presentation. (Lawyers use too many words – we need pictures!) I’d never used the animation features of PPT before so had to figure that out. Not really that hard but it took more time than expected.

  43. Austin. As Lauren said, get the amtrak app on your phone and set up an account. When the plan is firm and you have chosen the station where you can turn in the rental car and get on the train, buy the non refundable or if no longer available cheapest tickets. Unless you buy first class, there are no reserved seats, but there should be seats even if you wait to the last minute and pay full price in early to mid may.

    I am from the northeast corridor. I wish there were trains everywhere so i never had to drive. Once recently for fun we took the train from Boston to Tucson. Diffrent strokes for diffrent folks.

  44. Kerri – I use internet memes for the presentation I do once a year on crypto etc. No lawyers EVER use those and the audience is never quite sure what to make of them :)

  45. Meme – when we were in the UK we took the trains in between London/Oxford and London/Hampton Court and they were so fabulous. I’d be happy if we had trains like that here!!!

  46. Good job Kerri!

    I do just fine if I get to sit and present. But when I have to stand at the front of a room – that’s when I get nervous and the verbal tics start.

    For those following along with the Polar Vortex, I made it home after many calls to our company travel agent & multiple flight changes. And it is now a whopping 1 degree F. That’s a positive 1. By Monday it is supposed to be 50’s and raining. Gotta love it! DS & DH were climbing the walls a bit and are ready for school/work tomorrow.

  47. “3 times cheaper than taking a rental car across the border.”

    Things must have really changed. It’s been a while, but I never paid a surcharge for taking a rental car into Canada. And my insurance covers me there.

  48. Finn, I think she is referring to the cost of renting a car for however many days compared to the train tickets.

  49. I was sad to hear about the deaths from the polar vortex but the University of Iowa students death stuck with me. He was only half an hour from home and had reached the dorm safely but was found outside some time in the night.

  50. “I’ve gotten professional training on public speaking over the years but I don’t get a lot of opportunities to do it and put the training into practice. I have to really seek out opportunities.”

    I hear you there! The more you do it, the easier it is and the better you get, like many things. It can be hard to find more opportunities to do public speaking, especially for a juggler whose job does not include regular presentations.

  51. After all those years of teaching, I can stand up and speak without difficulty. But, like Milo, I’m still thrown off by the guy (or girl) in the back who is glaring, or dozing, or whatever. I try to remember one time when I had a student who looked totally bored and sleepy for weeks, and then she came to talk to me, and it turned out she had anorexia and was exhausted because she was malnourished. (Yeah, she was thin, but 18-22 year olds are often thin, and she wore lots of layers). So then I felt extra bad for taking her affect personally. Remember: It’s hardly ever about you.

  52. For those of you interested in honing/practicing your public speaking skills, look around your area for a Toastmasters club:

    This is a group where people meet to practice public speaking, and get feedback from one another. There is a combination of planned topics and impromptu speaking opportunities. On the feedback front, one person in the group each meeting is a designated “‘ah’ counter” that flags all those verbal tics. Yes, that throws you off in the moment, but you become hyper-aware of them and really make an effort to stop using them. Over time, there is definite improvement.

  53. Finn and Fred – One day car rental from NY state to Montreal Canada – $315. Same vehicle (size based on using to move DD#1 out of dorm) daily cost in the US – $52 US, daily cost in Canada $41 CAD. Cost of train $76 to $156 for 2 people depending on the type of fare. So, yes, 3x more to rent a car for one day to drive vs taking the train.

  54. I assumed that Austin is talking about a one way drop off in Canada. That has a significant surcharge and limited vehicle selection.

  55. Since I am a mom to an 18 year old college freshman, that U Iowa death hit me. I had already sent email to my kid yesterday tellling him to bundle up!

  56. Congrats Kerri! FWIW, I have hated public speaking since I was a baby lawyer and totally sucked at it, but I do it all the time now and find it rather easy. For me, the difference is that I know the substance of it cold, and my “normal” way of approaching things is big-picture principles, so it is sort of easy to distill down whatever it is we’re talking about to bullet points. So Kerri, it can be done! OTOH, I still suck at PowerPoint. ;-)

    @Milo: thought of you watching last night’s HH — young couple, wanted to go tiny with a small budget. They ended up rejecting the yurt because it was going to cost too much (base price half their budget, mind you) and they’d have to rent land or whatever. So instead they chose — get this — a 1973 tugboat that was over their budget to start with and that required a $900/mo boat slip. And I’m thinking, wait, you’re worried about the long-term cost of a YURT? Have you ever owned a boat before??

  57. Meme is correct. It is not JUST the different location drop off fee, but a hefty surcharge for every day of the rental.

    MM – Me too, my DD#1 is only leaving her dorm when she MUST. I think she is rethinking the idea of a longer coat. She still says most of the kids wear jackets and, she assumes, something underneath the jeans. But, then the classrooms are kept quite warm.

  58. Austin – does she wear anything other than jeans? I find them not warm at all when it is cold out. I would suggest fleece-lined leggings under some sweatpants (Athleta or Lulu makes nice versions of both). Occasionally this week I have been layering the Uniqlo heattech extra warm leggings (they are very thin) under my athleta polartec leggings.

  59. The problem on my campus is that some of the classrooms are really hot. I have to teach a 3 hour class in one room that is like a steambath. If the students wore fleece under their sweatpants, they would die in that class.

  60. Yeah, that contrast between the freezing outdoors and overheated classroom is always a problem. Other than “dress in layers” (which means you have to peel off layers and try to stash them someplace while you’re wedged in with dozens of other students), there’s really no good solution. I personally suffer from heat more than cold, so I always put up with being too cold in order to avoid fainting from overheat in the classroom.

  61. I also no longer care about how I look to outsiders, so I’m willing to put on a snowsuit over normal clothes. Just peel the snowsuit off (get it in down or some other compressible material) and stuff it in a stuff sack. But I remember caring A LOT about my appearance in college, so I can see why young people might be against it.

  62. Milo @ 317pm: Yes, the January bounceback was nice. Compared with the annual return I need to make my $ balance goal on my mental timeline, I need a rate of return 1% less/year than what I calculated at the end of December.

  63. It never occurred to me that they would even allow a one-way rental to another country – I assumed she was going to drive round-trip.

    For me, the difference is that I know the substance of it cold

    That’s the key to the whole thing. IMO, a lot of the fear of public speaking comes from having to do it in school when you have to give a presentation on a topic that you’ve just learned for the purpose of the assignment. So you’re not very confident about what you’re presenting. Then add in that most teachers don’t give any actual help/instruction about how to present well – they just expect kids to go up in front of the lass and do – and it ends up being a very difficult experience for most kids, which then feeds into the fear/anxiety about it.

  64. Austin – does she wear anything other than jeans? I find them not warm at all when it is cold out.

    I agree – jeans are freezing.

  65. January bounceback was nice, but we are still down quite a bit from our high in August/September. Nice to see it coming back a little, though. We’ve set a very aggressive savings goal for this year, will be interesting to see if we make it.

  66. OK, our schools just cannot get anything right! Earlier this week they closed early because of the anticipated snow, which in our area turned out to be a little light drizzle until long after school hours. This morning it was *actually snowing* and they went in on time — but I just got the alert that they are closing 3 hrs early. Meanwhile, it is supposed to snow until about 3, so not sure why they decided to make the buses drive the kids home through the thick of it instead of end of the day when it was tapering off anyway.

    On the plus side, I finally got my snow tires on yesterday, so at least I might not die now.

  67. As MM said – The classrooms are overheated. She had one class last semester that with just jeans and a tshirt on in November/December she was sweating and then had to go back out in the cold in damp clothing. The first day in this class, she had bundled in layers. She said by the middle of class, she had more of her clothes laying on the floor than she had on her body. She has in her wardrobe: long johns, fleece-lined leggings, sweat pants, wind pants, and jeans – that can be layered various ways. On Tuesdays and Fridays, she treks the longest distance to her 8 am class in the hottest building. The other classes are closer to her dorm and, while warm, are not sweltering.

  68. DD – You still have to notify them if you are taking it out of the country and when you do, it jacks up the rate.

    We looked at various options for this trip – Round trip airfare out of Albany: one-ways to Albany – from Montreal; driving the Albany/Montreal leg; train the Albany/Montreal leg – and any option that included driving the car over the border jacked up the price substantially.

  69. I did our taxes yesterday since it was too cold to go outside anyway. My effective tax rate when it was all over is 3.5 percentage points lower than last year. We’ve had no significant life or financial events to change our tax situation, so it’s pretty comparable. (our income went up a bit, but not enough to bump brackets – old or new) So I guess the tax cut really was a tax cut in my particular instance. The higher standard deduction and lowering of the rates, plus being eligible for the child tax credit made up for the other changes like the SALT cap.

    When I was in college in Minnesota in January – we just got used to being cold in between classes. I mostly wore jeans or sweats (old school 90’s sweats) with nothing underneath. I’d say most of my classmates were the same. The classrooms were hot & layers under jeans would have been horrible. It was also very popular to wear Birkenstocks with thick wool socks, so you can see that we weren’t really going for function. The facilities crew always did a great job of keeping the sidewalks clear though. These days, if I was back at in college, I think I’d go Lauren’s route and wear lined leggings/joggers.

  70. The January bounceback is nice too since all those year-end dividends posted at a low point & now have picked up quite a bit. I mean, over the long run, it doesn’t much matter, but my balances are back up because of that as well.

  71. We do “Camp Nothing” at our household. Combination of DS really really hates camps and also there are few good options. So easy. So cheap. No need to leave work early to pick up kid before camp ends. Or arrive late at work after dropping kid off. And DS generally appreciates having the downtime. I think we started this the summer after 7th grade.

    Before Camp Nothing, we hired college students for the summer to be nannies. DD is much more social than DS and we could have forced her to do camps – but having the college student meant she could get together with a variety of different friends, go swimming, go to all of her incredibly inconveniently scheduled soccer practices (mid-day – wtf), etc. And have time just to hang out.

    Re: public speaking – at one point I was working on a project that was trying to site a jail. I was the main presenter. I call it my community organizing days – I could draw hundreds of people to the presentations. That pretty much helped me get over my fear of public speaking. I got some training and practices which really helped. And I was the kid in high school that was so shy, I never said anything to anyone who wasn’t a close friend.

  72. I am dreading doing taxes because I have NO IDEA what we will owe. It is scaring me. I am hoping to start on the taxes this weekend because I am so worried that we might owe a lot more money

  73. Rhett, you’re right. The Motley Fool logo isn’t linked to anything. And if there was ever anyone willing to look at something a little further than usual because it was about a driverless car, it’d be you. I listened long enough to find out wtf he was talking about, but around that time realized it was an ad, not something that the moderators posted. Grr

  74. Austin, your daughter’s struggles with overheated buildings in a cold place reminds me of the over-AC’ed places in Florida.

  75. LfB re: tugboat. Yikes.

    Fun day planned today. Skin surgery this afternoon followed by a wake tonight. DW’s great-aunt did not suffer long. Seemingly perfectly healthy — driving, playing tennis — to passed from this work in less than two weeks..

    For all the talk on here about how we’re going to optimize the 20 years we all think we’ll spend in assisted living…

  76. Sorry to hear about the tough day and DW’s aunt, Milo. Condolences to you and your DW, and good luck this afternoon.

  77. Public speaking—my undergrad project advisor felt it was a necessary professional skill, so he had all his upper level students do class presentations, and after I graduated he convinced the COE to add an engineering presentation class requirement to the engineering curriculum.

  78. Finn – that engineering professor was focusing on long term success of his students. That can be a differentiator in technical folks continuing to progress into management, I’m not an engineer, but I used to be a terribly nervous public speaker. Shaky voice kind of nervous. It was awful. Then I took a job where I didn’t realize a big part of it was making presentations. Well, that cured me for life. I figured out how to prep, wrote really little notes on slides as my comfort for tricky parts and actually got really good at it. I think it’s made a difference in my overall career trajectory. If not for that job, I’m not sure how or when I would have mastered it. DS1 developed this life skill in high school debate. I realized it when I watched him give an impromptu speech during a senior recognition celebration to a mid-sized auditorium. He was 1000x better than I would have been with prep at that age.

  79. I know we’ve discussed this, but I forget the outcome. Where do y’all get good bath towels? My criteria are thick and absorbent. They don’t need to be particularly soft; just thick and absorbent.

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