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How math works in the adult world

August 25, 2015

This is for my kids, your kids, everyone’s kids, teens and 20somethings. And anyone else who needs it.

Guys: Math gets weird in the adult world. Here’s how you think it works, and how I thought it worked (as an example):

  • Work a job, 40 hours/week at minimum wage ($7.25). That’s $290 income / week, or $15,080 / year.
  • Pay cheap rent, utilities included, maybe $500/mo, or $6,000 / year.
  • Groceries, maybe $100 a month; $1,200 / year.
  • Gas and insurance and spending, another $200/month; $2,400 / year.
  • Conclusion: That leaves $5,480 a year, or a little over $450 per month! Awesome savings, or vacation, or Christmas or whatever! I can make it on my own!

And here’s how it actually, for realz works:

  • Work a job, but they fart around and cut hours and you end up with maybe 24 hours/week at minimum wage ($7.25). You try for a second job, but that’s harder than you think. Also wind up somehow not working 4 weeks out of the year, for vacations, sick leave, and random schedule screwups. End up making an average of $217 income / week, or $10,416 / year. Edit: And we didn’t even talk about income tax and social security, which takes a bite out of your paycheck, but we’ll pretend that doesn’t exist right now; at your income level, it’ll be a small bite anyway.
  • They raise the rent after your 6 months is up, and cable wasn’t included, so you’ve got $550/mo, or $6,600 / year.
  • Groceries turn out to be more like $150 a month so you’re not stuck on a ramen diet, and it’s hard to turn down your favorite soda; plus how much can it hurt to eat out or order pizza once a week? $2,520 / year.
  • Gas and insurance are mostly constant, but it’s hard not to get yourself stuff; shoes and jeans wear out, the job uniform needs replacing, the iPhone breaks… $350/month; $4,200 / year.
  • We didn’t even talk about cel phone plans (oops), insurance, health emergencies, the food and vet bills for the kitty cat that was SOOO cute at the shelter but then got worms, got a tumor, and got diahhrea in the course of 8 months. Let’s just round that off to a conservative $2,000 a year.
  • And, hellfire, the 6 year old car you inherited from your parents as a college car needs a new goddamn transmission. There’s another $1,200 gone.
  • Conclusion: That leaves you $6,104 in debt, or a little over $500 in the hole per month! No savings, no vacation, no Christmas. And that’s just one year.

This is what I truly, seriously didn’t get as a teen and young adult: You simply cannot account for everything that will go wrong in a year. What’s more, you cannot be a perfect angel of a penny pincher.  It jacks up your finances. It stresses you the hell out.

I had the best intentions, a great & above-minimum-wage job, and a husband (and therefore another income) throughout college – and oh man, we haven’t even talked about college! – and we got jacked up in the financial department. We didn’t figure out the hidden costs of a cat, the clear as day costs of a new car, and the ridiculous cost of a house (no not kidding) until way late in the game.

I’m not trying to bum you out. I’m trying to show you the way. Save save save where you can. Work where you can. Be conservative in your spending, where you can. Parents letting you live with them through college? Take it. Still in high school with a summer job? Save that shit. Have to get a place? Get roommates, or a super cheap place. Dirt poor? Suck it up and hit a food bank, get welfare. That’s what it’s there for.

You can make it. You will make it. I just want you to know going in that it’s not going to be easy.

Black Lives Matter, Too

July 20, 2015

Taken from Reddit. “ELI5” means “explain it like I’m 5”, and TL;DR means “too long; didn’t read” (a summary of a long post).


ExplainedELI5: Why is it so controversial when someone says “All Lives Matter” instead of “Black Lives Matter”? -submitted 22 hours ago by Bigred2989

Imagine that you’re sitting down to dinner with your family, and while everyone else gets a serving of the meal, you don’t get any. So you say “I should get my fair share.” And as a direct response to this, your dad corrects you, saying, “everyone should get their fair share.” Now, that’s a wonderful sentiment — indeed, everyone should, and that was kinda your point in the first place: that you should be a part of everyone, and you should get your fair share also. However, dad’s smart-ass comment just dismissed you and didn’t solve the problem that you still haven’t gotten any!

The problem is that the statement “I should get my fair share” had an implicit “too” at the end: “I should get my fair share, too, just like everyone else.” But your dad’s response treated your statement as though you meant “only I should get my fair share”, which clearly was not your intention. As a result, his statement that “everyone should get their fair share,” while true, only served to ignore the problem you were trying to point out.

That’s the situation of the “black lives matter” movement. Culture, laws, the arts, religion, and everyone else repeatedly suggest that all lives should matter. Clearly, that message already abounds in our society.

The problem is that, in practice, the world doesn’t work the way. You see the film Nightcrawler? You know the part where Renee Russo tells Jake Gyllenhal that she doesn’t want footage of a black or latino person dying, she wants news stories about affluent white people being killed? That’s not made up out of whole cloth — there is a news bias toward stories that the majority of the audience (who are white) can identify with. So when a young black man gets killed (prior to the recent police shootings), it’s generally not considered “news”, while a middle-aged white woman being killed is treated as news. And to a large degree, that is accurate — young black men are killed in significantly disproportionate numbers, which is why we don’t treat it as anything new. But the result is that, societally, we don’t pay as much attention to certain people’s deaths as we do to others. So, currently, we don’t treat all lives as though they matter equally.

Just like asking dad for your fair share, the phrase “black lives matter” also has an implicit “too” at the end: it’s saying that black lives should also matter. But responding to this by saying “all lives matter” is willfully going back to ignoring the problem. It’s a way of dismissing the statement by falsely suggesting that it means “only black lives matter,” when that is obviously not the case. And so saying “all lives matter” as a direct response to “black lives matter” is essentially saying that we should just go back to ignoring the problem.

TL;DR: The phrase “Black lives matter” carries an implicit “too” at the end; it’s saying that black lives should also matter. Saying “all lives matter” is dismissing the very problems that the phrase is trying to draw attention to.


Mini race report: Wildfire Half marathon

July 19, 2015

I’m in the middle of training for a half marathon, but I did the Wildfire Half last year. I wanted to go again for fun.

Differences this year:

  • Not really going for speed; the aim was to finish without hurting my training schedule.
  • Bit of a breeze this year. Nice.
  • I didn’t have my Camelback or my regular handheld bottle. Both of them need cleaning. The ~20 ounce bottle I bought along worked out mostly OK.
  • Focused on salt intake, which helped a LOT. I feel pretty good, thanks to the judicious use of 4-5 Nuun tablets. Handed out a couple of tablets to two women I’d been sort of playing tag with most of the race…they were grateful. (They had matching shirts that said, “Unicorns are awesome. I am awesome. Therefore, I am a unicorn.” Go Team Unicorn!)
  • The medal came with this cute little mini medal, like a charm for a bracelet. I like it.

So yes. Big fun. Oh, and this time I brought a whole change of clothes for after, and damn, does that help!

Update: Results: Wildfire Half Marathon, July 19, 2015

  • Chip time 2:52:34 (last year, 2:40:07)
  • Pace 13:10/mile (last year, 12:17/mile
  • Overall 202/296 (last year, 264/436)
  • Gender 102/165 (last year, 124/244)

Rules of Drunkenness

July 9, 2015

Rules of drunkenness:
Don’t say things. 

Don’t say anything online. For the love of God, don’t say anything online.

Don’t take anything off. Okay, maybe your jacket. No, not your shoes.

Don’t lie down on anything that’s not your bed. Seriously, stop talking. Stop texting. What did you just post?

Watch your typos. 

Quit telling people you love them. Just stop. 

No, you don’t need another glass. Eat something. 

Okay, maybe one more glass. Just the one. 

Keep your clothes on. Stand up. What are you, a toddler? Put your shoes back on. 

This is your inner sober brain speaking, and I say seriously SHUT UP NO ONE CARES. They can all tell you’re drunk, too. 

Did you say something else while I wasn’t looking? Oh god, what was it? Who was there? We’re going to have to file this away and feel bad forever, so what did you say?

That carpet DOES look kind of comfortable, now that I think about it. And lots of people like floors. Buddhists, for example. Love floors. Maybe we could be Buddhist tonight. Yeah?

Not sure we need another glass. Tasty wine, though. 

I love that guy. Good guy, that. 

I’m British now. 

I love this carpet. 

Where’s my drink. 

Where’s my shows. Shows. Shoes. 

Imma text them. I love those guys.

Getting real tired of your attitude, Internet

July 3, 2015

Many of us have bemoaned, will bemoan, are bemoaning the rudeness and downright hostility (and sometimes, violent vitriol) of random strangers on the internet.

I’m done bemoaning. I’m sick of it. Time to start pointing out the poison and refusing to take part.

This comes from an incident. A friend posted an article on FB yesterday that sparked some discussion. Let’s say that it was about, oh, let’s say, the epidemic of feeding tacos to turtles. (It wasn’t, but it’s a fine thing to talk about.)  The discussion went something like this:

Person: “This article points out an awful lot of problems with feeding tacos to turtles, but doesn’t actually provide any solutions. If people want to feed tacos to their turtles, they should! The economy would crater if turtles couldn’t be fed tacos. Think of the Taco Bell employees on welfare…  There’s just no point in trying to change the taco/turtle situation.” [The argument was more cogent than this, but again, it’ll do for now.]

Me: “As for solutions, just off the top of my head, how about feeding turtles other things, like lettuce or whatever? How about we move over to a carrot-based agricultural emphasis? These are just a couple of ideas. I don’t own a turtle, but I do eat tacos, so I’m just a regular consumer here, no expert. But there have to be alternatives, if the taco-turtle conundrum is really that bad (and it is).”

Person: “[Reasons why I’m wrong.] But you got one thing right; you’re definitely no expert.”

Me: “Well, that got a little hostile a little fast. I’m out.”

Person: “[Another snippy little attack comment.]”

Now, I really don’t have a problem with disagreements. Nor with being told I’m wrong. But I’m sick to allfire death of random ad hominem attacks in what should be a perfectly civil conversation. The topic wasn’t even all that controversial…which wouldn’t excuse the attacks, but it would at least make them more understandable.  This is, to me, the equivalent of this:

Me: “Dang, Hokas sure are a delightful running shoe!”

Person: “You would say that, you foot-whore.”

Is that seriously what passes for acceptable? Remember, this wasn’t an actual random stranger; this was a friend of a (very kind and decent) friend. Is this what I can expect if I start attending cocktail parties again?

Yeah, I get it. Internet. Well, I’m done with it. I’m going to start modeling my behavior after a good friend, who – when unacceptable behavior happens in the vicinity – says “That is unacceptable,” and goes on to explain why.

Turning a discussion into an ad hominem attack is wrong, and unacceptable. Stop it.


P.S. I’m also getting sick of that tactic, “If you don’t suggest a solution then you’re wrong / don’t get to talk.” Pointing out the problems in a situation is perfectly acceptable, useful, and widely accepted in most if not all societies. Is there a name for this tactic? UPDATE: I am so happy!! I found what I think this is. This tactic is shifting the burden of proof, “A fallacy that challenges  opponents to disprove a claim, rather than asking the person making the claim to defend his/her own argument.” At worst, it’s a variation of this; “You may not continue with your arguments without also providing solutions to the problems you raise” is DEFINITELY shifting the burden of proof. I’m so, so happy!

P.P.S. shows “ad homimen” first used in 1598. I like the idea that you’re not only illogical, but that your FORM of illogic has been recognized as stupid for over 400 years.

SCOTUS ruling on independent redistricting commissions

June 30, 2015

This is amazing. The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that states can take the power of redistricting away from the people likely to rig that system in their own favor. What that means is, I hope, gerrymandering may soon* be a thing of the past.

Gerrymandering: one of the biggest, dirtiest, dishonest cheats in American politics. I never understood, even my school days, how such a thing could be allowed to continue. May it die quickly.

*”Soon” is relative.

Change in half/full marathon training schedules

June 24, 2015

Breaking in new socks

New day, new idea about running schedules.

I’m in week 3 of a 17 week half-marathon training plan. It’ll finish up October 4. I had originally planned on taking several weeks “off” (just maintenance runs, basically) before starting on a marathon training plan, but, the Dallas Marathon is about 10 weeks after this cycle ends!

The Dallas Marathon was really cool.

I want to do it again.

Therefore, the new training plan is this:

  • Half marathon training as planned, ending Oct 4.
  • Two weeks downtime / recovery time, mostly easy runs and whatnot.
  • Eight weeks marathon training.
  • Dallas Marathon December 13!

I want to do the marathon, even if I have to do a walk/run due to not enough training.

So, thoughts and comments?


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