2018 Politics open thread, May 6-12

Any political thoughts?

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Con Artists

by Honolulu Mother

This Vanity Fair article describes the author’s friendship and travels with an “heiress” whom she eventually realized was actually a con artist. It was an expensive lesson.

“AS AN ADDED BONUS, SHE PAID FOR EVERYTHING”: MY BRIGHT-LIGHTS MISADVENTURE WITH A MAGICIAN OF MANHATTAN

Have you ever been taken by, or narrowly avoided, a con? Or have your run-ins been limited to emails from Nigerian princes in exile and phone calls from Windows Security?

Everything must go!

by July

The other day this ad appeared locally.

MOVING Everything Must GO!!

You name it and we are selling it….Lots for Free and Sale

Furniture, Home Accessories, Clothes, Tools, Jewelry, Fitness Equipment, Mirrors, Small Kitchen Appliances, Lawn and garden, Dishes, Glassware, Corningware, knick-knacks, Electronic, TV’s, Anything hanging on walls- ETC.

We Are Taking Nothing with us

Describe your fantasy (or nightmare) downsizing that would enable you to move into a new house on wheels.  What would you keep and what would you get rid of?  What would you move into?  Where would you go?  Mostly motor around or mostly stay put?

Food shows!

by Honolulu Mother

Do you enjoy watching food and cooking shows on your screen of choice? NYMag suggests the best cooking shows to match different moods:

The 7 Best Food Shows to Match Your Mood

Cooking shows aren’t a harmless pleasure to everyone, though. Like this Quartz article, some have questioned whether the competition shows’ judges really have the knowledge base to fairly rate the execution of the wide variety of cuisines that may come before them:

A COOKING SHOW CONTROVERSY OVER CRISPY CHICKEN REVEALS THE LACK OF CULINARY DIVERSITY ON TV

And of course, there are the long-standing complaints that most food tv shows don’t so much teach viewers how to cook as put viewers off cooking, by making it look too difficult and setting an unobtainable standard. I’ve watched some of a French show that’s certainly guilty of that — it takes a bad but functional cook’s signature dish, and a chef has them do a version that bears only a slight relation to the original and is many times more expensive and time-consuming. For instance, from spaghetti with jarred sauce and chopped cucumbers:

to some kind of tubular pasta structure filled with a meat-and-vegetable reduction inspired by bolognese sauce, napped with bechamel and garnished with cucumber:

The message is, “Your stand-by dinner is terrible, and the way to fix it is to spend ten times as much time and money.” The show, for anyone interested, is:

NORBERT COMMIS D’OFFICE

(No, it doesn’t have English subtitles, but it’s reality tv — your French doesn’t have to be that good for you to still get the gist.)

What, if any, food tv shows do you watch?

Early retirement

by a regular lurker

My brother is about to retire at 45 after a few expat assignments and 20-year career in the oil industry. He and his family plan to live in a relatively low cost area on interest/dividends from an investment portfolio.

Totebaggers, what are your thoughts on early retirement? If you or someone you know has retired early, what are your biggest lessons?

At 72, a finance icon inspires a new cult of early retirees

Stop trying so hard to improve your life

by July

To Change Your Life, Consider the Easy Route

… What if the key to success isn’t trying hard but not trying very hard at all?

How does this actually work?  We’ve discussed aspects of this idea before.  Don’t overtax you willpower.  Remove temptations.  (Don’t keep ice cream in the house.)  Start with small changes that will develop into good habits.

Use “The Loop” approach.

The trick is to recognize that self-control isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. We can carve out small, manageable areas of good behavior and gradually build trust in our ability to hold fast. I call this approach “The Loop”: First, find a rule that will bring you a little bit closer to your self-control goal, but will be so easy that you have no doubt you’ll be able to stick to it. Then, each day keep track of whether you’ve done it or not. That’s all. Don’t worry about solving the big problem; focus on staying on The Loop. If it starts to feel like a struggle, then dial the rule back to make it easier. As time goes by, The Loop will become second nature and you’ll be able to crank it up to a more ambitious setting.

I’ve used The Loop in establishing some good habits, including exercising and reading more books.  I start out small with modest commitments, and over time I find I’ve developed better habits rather painlessly.  It could be termed the lazy man’s method.

What works for you?  Do you prefer to start off with a more ambitious plan, maybe because you’re impatient?  Do you use a version of The Loop?  Have you tried to make any changes in your life over the last year?  Success or failure?  Any life changes you’d you like to make?  Do you think we’ve become too obsessed with improving our lives?

Tax day

by July

First we do their homework for them, then their taxes.

Yes, It’s Tax Day and You’re Still Doing Returns for Your Adult Children
Parents are preparing returns for their grown children even into their 40s, with no plans to hand over the chore

Every spring like clockwork, Bridget Cusick receives a package from her father. This year, she opened it to find two manila envelopes, stamped and pre-addressed; one to New York state; one to the Internal Revenue Service. Her address was written in the top left-hand corners. There were forms, too: three stacks, held together by paper clips. A Post-it Note stuck to one said, “your copies.”

“It’s very turnkey for me,” says Ms. Cusick. “He puts little sticky arrows that say, ‘sign here.’ ”

Ms. Cusick is 42 and the director of marketing with the Archdiocese of New York. She has never done her taxes. Her 74-year-old dad, a retired attorney from Barron, Wis., does them for her.

“It’s not like I don’t think I could learn how to do it,” she says. “But if my dad legitimately seems to enjoy doing it and it saves me time, why not?”

“He enjoys it.” “She’s good at it.” Such is the party line of adults who still have their accounting needs handled by their parents. This includes Ms. Cusick’s younger brother and his wife, who receive a packet of their own each spring.

“I think about it every year when the time comes around, that it’s probably a skill that I should have learned,” says Patrick Cusick, who works in marketing and lives in La Crosse, Wis. “I don’t really know why he hasn’t been like, ‘Son, you need to learn to do your taxes ’cause you’re 34 years old.’ ”

Their father, David Cusick, says having them learn on their own makes him nervous. “I’m just kind of concerned that they’ll make a mistake and then have the IRS bugging them,” he says.

At what age did you start doing your own taxes?  What about your kids?  Was your tax return easy this year?  How’s your tax day going?

Buying Wine Online

by Honolulu Mother

According to this Washington Post article, it’s become harder to buy wine online in recent years:

Why is it becoming harder to buy wine online?

According to the article, the court victory a few years ago didn’t significantly change things because it applied only to direct-from-winery shipments:

We thought we’d won the direct shipping battle a decade ago when the Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that states should not treat their wineries favorably over wineries from other states. But that ruling didn’t end the battle over direct shipping; it just put it back into state legislatures, perhaps with a more even playing field. Most of us can now buy directly from wineries in California, Oregon or elsewhere in the United States — but not from retailers in those states.

In fact, only 13 states and the District of Columbia allow shipments from out-of-state retailers to their residents, while more than 40 states allow such shipments from out-of-state wineries, according to winefreedom.org, a website operated by the National Association of Wine Retailers.

And the states have been cracking down, so wine lovers who used to be able to order from out-of-state retailers are finding it’s no longer possible.

We’ve ordered wine from out-of-state retailers on a few occasions, though mostly pre-kids. Around the time our oldest was born the local retail options got better, and we suddenly found that we no longer were drinking any category but inexpensive week-night go-to bottles. I did do a big shipment a year and a half ago, though, not of wine, but of various obscure liquors that I’d been unable to get locally. How about you? Do you, or does your spouse, like to order wine from wineries or retailers outside your state? Or are you content with your local options?

‘Turning Kids Into Grown-Ups’

by Used to Lurk

Thursday’s NPR TED Radio Hour Podcast episode was “Turning Kids Into Grown-Ups” which would be right up this group’s alley. The podcast is 53 minutes but you can up the speed or skip through the ads.

Turning Kids Into Grown-Ups
Parenting is fraught with uncertainty, changing with each generation. This hour, TED speakers share ideas about raising kids and how — despite our best efforts — we’re probably still doing it wrong.

The first segment was former Stanford dean Jullie Lythcott-Haims who is advocating that we stop parenting our kids like they are Bonsai trees and managing their every move. She has a book titled “How to Raise an Adult” and her TED talk is “What’s the harm in over parenting”. She advocating that parents back-off the micromanaging of their kids lives and accomplishments.

The second segment was former firefighter Caroline Paul and her talk is about how to raise brave daughters.

The third segment was author Peggy Orenstein, who has written numerous books on teaching girls about sex. The talk involves talking to both daughters and sons.

The fourth segment was psychologist Dr. Aaia El-Khani and is focused on how to parent in a war zone and the work she has done in refugee camps.

The final segment is a poem by Sarah Kay about what she wants her daughter to know.

I enjoyed the entire podcast but there is value in just listening to segments that interest you. I found it very informative. I think this group could talk about Julie Lythcott-Haims points for quite a while.

Keeping up with friends can be good for your marriage

by July

Are you and your spouse one of those married couples “who tend to withdraw into their coupledom”?  Apparently this tends to occur among the affluent.

. . . as income rises, the advantages of married over never-married individuals evaporate and even reverse. While affluent never-married people continue to multiply their interactions with friends, neighbors and family, affluent married couples don’t. This could well be why, at the highest income levels, married people are actually more likely to report depressive symptoms than their equally affluent never-married counterparts.

The advice is to nurture relationships with people outside of your marriage, including going on “double dates”.

Your thoughts?

Post-Vacation Blues

by Honolulu Mother

Does coming home from a much-anticipated vacation leave you feeling down? If so, you’re in good company, according to this Daily Beast article:

Spring Breakers, Beware of the Impending Depression

The article has a couple of suggestions for easing the transition back into your everyday responsibilities:

DiMarco said it’s also important to prepare for the post-travel depression by giving yourself time to get back into your normal routine. Try to preemptively clear your work calendar for the first few days you’re back and schedule fun things like a manicure or an intramural sports game to be excited about.

“Knowing that you’re going to be a little bummed out your first two days back from vacation can help mitigate that,” she said. “You can also do some self care when you get back, yes you were just on vacation but it doesn’t mean you need to come home and punish yourself.”

There is no way my work would cooperate with giving me a clear calendar for the first few days I’m back after a trip. But I do find that post-vacation (and post-holiday season, for that matter), it helps to just accept that I’ll be feeling down for a week or so before I readjust to the usual hectic routine.

Do you have ways to deal with the post-vacation blues? Or do you not experience that?