September 27, 2017

Just a little (link) love: sea otters edition

The aftermath of the earthquakes in Mexico is devastating.

In the wake of multiple natural disasters, David’s comprehensive list for emergency preparedness is important reading. I think there’s a lot more we need to do with younger children.

I was wondering why it was considered a kid’s first lie is a cognitive milestone. I’m pretty sure that JuggerBaby’s already committed that about ninety seven times already.

Sherry’s post on photogenicity made me wonder why I despised the camera as a kid. Now I remember – it was a Big Deal to take pictures back in the days of film, and being poor, so every picture had to be as close to perfect as possible. And that meant everyone had to SMILE!!! and when kids were involved, all the adults would be staring and trying to get you to smile. I hated attention to begin with but even then, being told to smile set my every hackle up and I ended up scowling like Godzilla in most photos.

Brooklyn Bread’s done some legwork for us with finding B Corps: “B Corps are for-profit companies that meet certain social and environmental standards. They care about the environment. They don’t treat workers like garbage. In short, they are generally a better receptacle for your money. ”

We read to JuggerBaby every night and I recognize that we are incredibly privileged to be able to do that. I’d like to give back a little and maybe that means volunteering for this Bay Area Literacy program next year.

And in related news, this is cool: Barber supports young children’s reading at his shop

Why sea otters hold hands & wrap pups in seaweed

September 25, 2017

Selling our home in California: Part 3

We left off at having a ratified contract because that’s all the fun I could handle and holding my breath for 30 days was enough distraction.

But I can never resist a “what will you do with that money” question.

I have a spreadsheet gaming out every sale price scenario and therefore decided where any money will go long before we even listed the place. I’ll fiddle with some of the details still but the broad strokes are right.

Note that in the interest of not tempting fate, I started my possible sale price scenarios at the lowest possible price, well below the current comps, and ran it in $25,000 increments until I went over the current comps.

In order of priority, this is how I’m planning to distribute that money:

5%, broker and sales fees
28%, pay off the remaining balance of our loan
18%, repay personal loans
18%, repay our savings account
25%, pay down our new loan
4%, invest
1%, long term disability insurance
1%, charity

Repaying loans: The very first thing I’m going to do is pay off all the personal loans. I practically have my pen in my hand to write the check right now, I’m itching to get that crossed off the list.

Taxes: I’m not leaving anything for taxes, you’ll note, because we qualify for the federal capital gains exclusion and our end gain (Amount realized from the sale – the cost basis) won’t be over the $500k limit, more’s the pity, and it should be reasonable to expect that we shouldn’t have CA state taxes, too.

Charity: Our planned giving should be higher but until I’ve safely refilled all our coffers and figured out our new cash flow, that will need to wait. Remember to make sure your own oxygen mask is secured before helping anyone else!

The new mortgage: I have always planned to pay down the new loan, and recast it for lower monthly payments, but a new player stepped onto the stage a couple weeks ago. They offered a refinance with no closing costs and a drop of our current interest rate by .25%. It’s just a matter of when I feel like I can take that extra task on – let’s say two months after we’re moved in, I’ll dig into that.

Either way, my first step is dump cash into the loan once we receive the funding. Option 1 after that is refinancing with the other lender which has been kind of ehhh in the past but a lower rate without fees is attractive. Option 2 is to convince Chase to match the lower rate with no closing fees offer.

Whichever route works out, as long as the rate goes down and I drop that cash in the loan, we could reduce our monthly nut by about $1000. Then we’d only have doubled our housing costs, not tripled them. I AM going to miss some of the amenities we’ll be walking away from.

I’m tempted to peel off a little of that cash to treat ourselves to little things but it’s really not necessary. The real reward will be living at the address of Not Utter Chaos!

Plus, and this wasn’t planned, I have a special little box of a couple adorable things I splurged on at SDCC which includes a surprise for JuggerBaby from zir uncle. Unpacking will be a little less awful when we run into those treats.

Read Part 1 and Part 2

:: Do you treat yourself after finishing massive projects or do you just take satisfaction in a job well done? 


September 19, 2017

Just a little (link) love: hay-bear edition


The Atlantic on why women are supposedly terrible to each other in the workplace. I think a huge part of this was described accurately by  Kelly Sue DeConnick in one of her SDCC talks. Women aren’t stupid – they don’t want to be associated with a weaker or subordinate group and they’ve internalized the prevailing misogyny early on so they tend to respond by trying to set themselves apart from other women. Obviously if you know that women are considered less than, why would you do anything but highlight how you’re not like them? Women can learn to shed that patriarchal gullshit and understand the power we can have, though and I can always spot when a women has or hasn’t shed those attitudes.

The manufacturer of Epi-Pens continues to behave horribly. This time they’re called out by the FDA.

Have you talked to kids about money? Emily had the “bank holds your money” talk with Little Bit

Are you emotionally prepared for a bear market?

I don’t usually listen to radio show clips but this one piqued my curiousity. The UK shop John Lewis decided they weren’t going to label clothing with gender anymore, which I think is great because how about you let us decide what’s right for ourselves, and this caller expresses concerns about “bowing to political correctness” with about exactly the kind of reasoning you’d expect from that response. James O’Brien rather deftly gets the caller to actually think about what he’s whinging about for a second.

Marshmallows aren’t likely to fix low-income kids’ real problems: “We demonstrated that expectations matter—a lot—in the marshmallow test, and that it’s not all about self-control. This shows that children’s decisions aren’t driven by inherent ability or inability, as Mischel and colleagues suggest. The behavior is driven by the forces of evidence and expectations.

We should not waste time and grant money trying to train self-control, nor should we commit to the implicit judgment behind these studies—that kids who fail to wait for the second marshmallow are inferior.


September 18, 2017

Living spaces: how much and what do you need?

Once upon a time, and as recently as this spring, I wanted a house with at least five rooms: three bedrooms, an office, and a library. Maybe four bedrooms. Wide spaces, with room to stretch your arms out wide and wiggle your fingers. Then to race the dog down the hallway and see who successfully skids to a stop before slamming into a wall. Dreams of a country girl.

Thus I confess, occasionally I get bitten by the jealousy bug when friends buy a 5-7 bedroom colossus on a 10,000 square foot lot for much less than our down payment.

But the reality of our lifestyle (low-key, low-energy, focused on financial freedom) doesn’t line up with the commitment of such mansion style living. And just as important, the reality of where we’ve chosen to make our lives means that we’d pay dearly and be mortgaged forever and a day if we were so very expansive when we finally found our next home.

On the lower end, the average price per square foot ranges from $500-700 hereabouts. On the higher end, I’ve seen $900-1000 per square foot.

At these prices, we would be giving up our dream of being financially free for a house.

Now, if ever there was a hermit who could flog down that cost per hour-lived-in, I’m your daisy. It took me two and a half years of working solo before I even considered it might be a good idea to see people occasionally. Maybe. (No.)

Thankfully, sense and a bit of luck prevailed – we didn’t paying our maximum bid on the purchase, but we surely paid enough that I’m simmering some ideas on bringing down the principal, stat!

Even at that cost, we didn’t get the sprawling ranch home with a moat, and carriage house (and murder holes) I fancied.

We’ve maybe 1400 square feet. It makes up 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a wee sma office. I have and would give up a lot for the balance of comfort and safety (physical or financial) of my family but if either of us ever have any choice in the matter, two bathrooms is a must. No coveted laundry room, unfortunately, nor my wished-for piano or library.

In short, it is enough room to live in, grow a little, host a friend or three temporarily, and grow old together without fighting over whose turn it is to clean the sixth bathroom.

We have a lovely bit of yard where I can have micro container garden adventures, and Seamus can sun his bones. We splurged on the Fancy Stove for my cookery and a bench for my bath because it’s every day now that I’m too tired to shower. PiC got to pick all the design and color elements so that this is a home he’d be proud of, though it was never designed with showings in mind. That’s why, though I’m proud of the work we did, I won’t be sharing pictures. We were making our home, not a showcase.

I have mild pangs of regret thinking we should have held out for something a touch bigger, a few more amenities, a few less compromises. But PiC is confident this is what we need and I trust his judgment too. Besides, what a wreck I’d be if I had to build my dream library during this very small window of time we had to work on the house!

Anyway this is all luxury, in the end. I grew up poor in Southern California so space to myself still feels like an amazing thing. A whole house for just my family is like the icing on the icing on the cake.

  • Age 1, our family of four shared a 2 bedroom house with four other families.
  • Age 3-12, our family of four shared a 600 square foot, 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment on and off with single family members. We had one room, they had the other.
  • Age 13-17, our family of four lived in a 1300 square foot house with three dogs.
  • Age 17-now, our family of four, then three, then two, were in a 1500 square foot house with three, then two, then one dog(s).

Now we’re a family of three humans and large dog going from 1000 square feet to 1400 square feet, with enough room to comfortably lodge our rather frequent visitors.

PiC’s probably right, this is the right place for us. We were told to only list three Must Haves and we ended up getting 15 of our 20.

We can make this work!

:: What’s your living space minimum/ maximum? What are your dealbreaker amenities? 

September 14, 2017

Just a little (link) love: owl pets edition

How blind auditions help orchestras to eliminate gender bias

I still think it’s amazing that Maggie can literally fish for her supper.

Boosting creativity and problem solving by goofing off  I happen to know this works, this is why I switch to mindless tasks when I can’t focus. I know it’ll come back later if I don’t force it.

A Navy SEAL on ten things to focus on to “inspire your children and grandchildren to become everything that they can”. Respectfully I personally disagree with the first one because the act of getting up from the bed is my huge accomplishment of the morning. Making the bed is meaningless energy expenditure.

It has to be safe to say that this letter writer’s friends STINK to high heaven. Who forgets that their friend went through a bad divorce? And SAYS so? Or implies that their wedding is more important than said divorced friend’s financial or emotional wellbeing??

I can empathize with some of the views in this article. I don’t consider us wealthy in the absolute sense – we couldn’t have bought our new place this year without help and I didn’t have any plans to do so, for example – but we are in some ways wealthy. We have two good incomes right now though it certainly isn’t near the neighborhood of the folks interviewed ($2.5M income? Holy moly), we save a steady percentage of it even while living in a HCOLA. We pursue the creation of wealth but still want our child to learn to live a normal existence with choices and sacrifices. If JB ever says “great vacation but next time we (fly private or otherwise do what the rich do) like everyone else”, I will feel that I’ve failed to raise a decent human or gone terribly wrong somewhere.

Thoughts on “gaydar”– is there really such a thing and how does it work?

Excerpts on the all girls remake of Lord of the Flies, this is brilliant.

Turns out, birth order doesn’t mean anything. I think I knew that since I’m the youngest and my older sibling is a trainwreck.

Such a cute owly

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