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Me telling housemates about radon risks: Haha fuck yeah!!! Yes!!
Me being asked to split radon detector costs: Well this fucking sucks. What the fuck.

#*adds a radon testing unit to the List at position 17*

now I want to know about the rest of this list

Current edition of the List of Things to Save Up For (colloquially “the List”), redacted-and-annotated-for-public-display version.

(While I *remembered* the drywall repair, I noticed while annotating that I had not actually written it down, so now the radon testing unit is at position #18.)


#reply via reblog #oh look an original post #adventures in human capitalism #domesticity #poison cw


Me telling housemates about radon risks: Haha fuck yeah!!! Yes!!
Me being asked to split radon detector costs: Well this fucking sucks. What the fuck.


#… #*reads a couple of governments’ websites on home radon exposure* #…man‚ the shit people don’t tell you about‚ huh #*sighs* #*adds a radon testing unit to the List at position 17* #(the test itself is only 50 CAD but the renovations to deal with a failure result are like $4k) #(and there seems little point in testing if I can’t afford to do anything with the result) #((also one of the things one does for this is sealing cracks in one’s basement)) #((which‚ uh‚ half our basement floor is crumbling concrete and the other half is crumbling brick)) #((there are multiple areas of the basement where you can see straight down into the soil below)) #((presumably this is Bad)) #(anyway‚ point being‚ I have placed it just below ”replace basement floor”) #PSA #poison cw #domesticity #adventures in human capitalism #tag rambles #(P.S. okay wait hang on apparently there is a subsidy program for low-income households) #((again I ask why the fuck this did not come up on any of my previous searches for low-income home-repair subsidies)) #(…aaaand we are once again disqualified because everyone thinks Brother ought to be contributing his entire income) #(and not reserving any to save up for a home of his own one day) #(well‚ I’ll make a note‚ maybe he’ll move out before we make it to 17 or something)

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Back when I was a teenager who’d just learned how to generalize the concept of Trying To Optimize Things, I found the concept of holidays somewhat silly. Surely, I thought, if a celebratory activity is fun or otherwise valuable enough to be worth doing at all, it’s worth doing always, rather than constraining it to one day a year. Surely, I thought, if a celebratory activity isn’t fun or otherwise valuable enough to be worth doing normally, it’s not worth doing during specialized holidays, either. And surely, I thought, even for those activities which are expensive enough or low-demand enough that it does make sense to do them relatively infrequently—expensive fireworks shows, for instance, or elections—it’s better to do them whenever it makes sense given the specific logistics of the limits they’re under, rather than pinning them to the calendar in any sort of strict fashion.

There’s a sense in which I still partially agree with my past self. There are many holiday activities, like wearing costumes on Halloween, that I’d find it valuable to disperse more widely throughout the year. (And, indeed, I struggle somewhat with finding costumes to wear for Halloween, nowadays, because I wear Whatever I Want all year round now and thus lack the “wear something I want to wear but couldn’t usually bring myself to for expected-social-disapproval reasons” angle of costume-selection which makes it easy for many others.) And there are many other holiday activities, like fasting on the various Jewish fast days I grew up with, which I find valueless enough that I don’t bother with them even during the holidays where they’re the Official Means Of Celebration.

But, looking back, my past self was looking at things through the wrong frame. The value of holidays isn’t specifically in doing things which are fun or otherwise valuable, but rather in doing things which shake oneself out of one’s usual life-pattern temporarily. Breaking from one’s standard daily routines, and thus getting the chance to notice flaws in those routines or opportunities for improvement, in a way which would be actively impeded were the celebratory activities to be made common enough for people’s standard routines to start factoring them in. The fun is just the hook to get people willing to take breaks from their usual patterns in order to participate in those routine-breaks.

Because there’s a large class of traps one can fall into wherein one has routines, these routines are bad (or at least less-good-than-available-alternatives) for achieving one’s goals, but the nature of the routines is such that it’s hard to notice the availability of whatever less-bad alternatives might exist. Having a dedicated day for “go do something weird and off-routine”, then, serves as a way to ensure that one has the chance to step out of whatever tunnel-vision one’s normal routines might inflict. A chance to rest and relax, if otherwise in a state of permanent exhaustion, or to do something intense-and-tiring, if otherwise not doing much; a chance to spend time hanging out with crowds, or with small groups of people, or alone, if one usually doesn’t get the chance for one or more of those activities; a chance to spend time outdoors, if usually inside, or to spend time inside, if usually outdoors; et cetera.

(These are, to be clear, not intended as an example of routine-breaking things that it would make sense to compress together into a single holiday, but rather as examples of things that would make sense to try to cover within the space of a properly-diverse collection of holidays.)

More specifically, then: a well-designed holiday should involve activities which are fun or otherwise fulfilling and worthwhile-feeling for most people—in order to drive people to participate—but which are not part of most people’s normal routines and not easy to integrate into said routines, in order to help give people the sort of out-of-routine experiences that might help them catch potential improvements to their routines. And then there should be sufficiently many different well-designed holidays that, even taking into account that any given person is likely to find some of the holidays unfun-and-thus-skippable and to find some of the holidays’ activities to fall within their normal routines, most people will still end up getting a nonzero number of properly-routine-breaking holiday experiences per year.

Not all holidays are well-designed, by this standard. America has several interchangeable holidays whose primary means of celebration is “do a barbecue”, for instance, and several more which don’t really have any standard celebrations at all beyond “take the day off work” and/or “do some sort of party maybe”, which would benefit a lot from more differentiation than they’ve currently got. But many holidays are well-designed, by this standard. So I no longer dismiss the value of holidays so much, nowadays. They’ve got room for improvement, sure—some holidays would benefit from the addition of more distinctive and/or more enjoyable celebration-patterns, and some days which currently aren’t holidays would probably benefit from being turned into holidays—but the general idea is sound, nonetheless.


#yes this #but also‚ dedicated routine-breaking days serve as a *meta*-routine #a way to give rhythm to the passage of time #I’ve had to skip or reschedule so many holidays these past few years because of resource constraints and it’s awful to be so unmoored #(originally I was going to reblog this on Boxing Day) #(during the time I would normally have spent exploring the mall together with my mom but which we could not afford this year) #(but I was not really feeling up to talking) #(however‚ this week we celebrated my mother’s birthday late because everyone else was working that day) #(so this seems like another fitting time to bring it out) #((*could* we have arranged to take the day off? yes. but loss of wages is its own punishment.)) #time #tag rambles #adventures in human capitalism #is the blue I see the same as the blue you see

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I have no idea how dental insurance companies make any money, why would you ever sign up if you didn’t know they were going to pay out more than you put in?

I come across so many personal-finance bloggers who think dental/prescription insurance is just obviously a basic necessity, and then you look at the plan they’re on and the payout caps are so low that it’s damn near physically impossible to get out more than you put in no matter *how* bad your health luck is.

(Meanwhile they live in a jurisdiction where the government has high-deductible anti-catastrophe prescription insurance for everyone and they don’t know it.)

They make money because of people like me, who have dental insurance, but never have enough free cash lying around to get my teeth worked on even though I have dental insurance, because what they pay for is pretty limited.

I have to keep it, because any month I might have enough money to afford dental work, and if you give it up, you don’t get it back for the rest of the year. But while it covers a significant fraction of any dental work I do get done, it doesn’t cover enough for me to get that work done, most months.

ideally if you’re paying in more than they’re paying out, you could cancel and self insure and come out with a slight edge

I do get tho that in economically precarious positions people often have somewhat elastic expenses that preclude that kind of thing. been there

(also depending on what procedures are necessary waiting periods might make this more of a calculated gamble than pure bad EV)

@profound-yet-trivial actual catastrophic insurance (for adults) is rare, most of what is called dental insurance has very low payout caps ($1000-2000 on something like $240-700 of premiums) which makes it +EV for me only if I’m likely to be buying a lot of dentistry

my other theory is that dental pricing is opaque enough that insurance is making its money thru some kind of obscure mechanism internal to the industry.

like, I want to buy some dentistry. I did a few hours of research and purchased an insurance plan which is, I believe, going to pay out more than I am paying in premiums. I am reasonably confident I am going to come out ahead having this plan, but I am not confident at all and would likely bet that I have not selected the maximally efficient strategy.

I estimate that confidently determining such a strategy would probably take me ~20 hours. getting this right could save me a lot of money! but maybe not that much money?

so yeah if anyone is familiar with the economics of dentistry in seattle I am willing to pay you for advice! hmu with your cost estimate. alternately I guess I could download tinder and try to match with dentists or something lol


#conversational aglets #adventures in human capitalism #medical cw


I have no idea how dental insurance companies make any money, why would you ever sign up if you didn’t know they were going to pay out more than you put in?

I come across so many personal-finance bloggers who think dental/prescription insurance is just obviously a basic necessity, and then you look at the plan they’re on and the payout caps are so low that it’s damn near physically impossible to get out more than you put in no matter *how* bad your health luck is.

(Meanwhile they live in a jurisdiction where the government has high-deductible anti-catastrophe prescription insurance for everyone and they don’t know it.)


#reply via reblog #medical cw #adventures in human capitalism #(unfortunately there *isn’t* high-deductible anti-catastrophe government dental insurance) #(and my dad sure did have some dental catastrophes this year) #((but a dental plan with a $400 cap wouldn’t have helped a damn))

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#the power of science #I sure am having emotions about this video but they’re mostly not the intended emotions #let me see if I can convey the emotions in words: #the world that was big enough to contain science museums was an illusion #built atop the sand in an hourglass #I was one of those cheering kids once (not this exact group‚ not this exact demo‚ but the general area of concept-space) #and then I grew up and realised just how much had been stolen from my future to build that happy present #in the end‚ there are only two kinds of people: those who are independently wealthy‚ and those who are not #my parents failed to treat their dependency on my father’s career as the emergency it was #(they even failed to treat the *absence* of my father’s career as the emergency it most certainly was) #they could have been *fine* #*we could all have been fine* #if they’d *prioritised* correctly #but they didn’t‚ and now I’m going to spend the rest of my life cleaning up after their mistakes #Mom had the fucking gall recently to say ”I’m glad things didn’t get bad until you guys were old enough to understand” #what the fuck do you even say to someone who has missed the point that completely #the only good thing to be said about it is that I know‚ firsthand‚ the better world that might one day come to be #it has never yet existed‚ not truly #but it might‚ someday #tag rambles #venting cw #adventures in human capitalism #my childhood



the joke writes itself huh


#oh my god #adventures in human capitalism #covid19 #vaccines #illness tw #this probably deserves some other warning tag but I am not sure what #embarrassment squick? #(ftr the NYT pirates say that the ”terrific news” is that the bivalent boosters reduce your risk of getting Long COVID)

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Amass Fuck-You Money

Goals: amass fuckyou money

Forever reblog the mother goddess

(status: I acknowledge that this is psychological damage from an extended period of financial hardship during formative years, but I nonetheless mostly endorse it)

Hmm. I seem to be having a bunch of thoughts and feelings about this.

There seems to be a…maybe “divide” is too strong a word, I don’t know. But…like, I called it “fuck-you money vs fuck-me money” in a post a while back. Even when the actions are the same, there’s this psychological difference in how people can approach it.

When I see FIRE people, they always frame it in terms of *freedom*. (It’s right there in the acronym: Financially *Independent*, Retiring Early.) But to me, it strikes me as being a thing about *safety*. “Enough money that you can run your household solely off the interest from your investments” can protect you from a lot of different problems, and *that’s* why the idea appeals to me.

A few weeks ago I saw some distant acquaintance-of-an-acquaintance on Tumblr (I don’t recall who) advising a young person with a high-paying job and relatively low expenses (Silicon Valley programmer, I think, or something like that) to go on some trips and enjoy themself, because they weren’t going to have this much disposable income again until their forties if not later. And it felt like a very weird framing to me, because…the way I see it, if future-me doesn’t have money to spare, then neither do I. I don’t have spare money unless I can afford to feed myself, and I can’t truly afford to feed myself unless I can afford to feed *all* of my selves.

16-year-old me got to eat because 7-year-old me’s dad put away some “”extra””, and eventually that “”extra”” was all he had left. Where is 33-year-old me getting *her* food from?

Because if the source isn’t me, then I don’t trust it to come through for her. I want to do all I can to make sure that, no matter who is or is not willing to employ her or for how much, 33-year-old me (and 44-year-old me, and 55-year-old me…) is fed and housed and so forth.

(This was going to be a tag ramble, but then I thought it should probably stay with the post if somebody reblogs it to respond or something. I’m just going to leave it in tag format.)

#this post probably partly inspired by my first anniversary of non-freelance employment   #which is coming up soon   #I think I will celebrate by scheduling the dental checkup I have been putting off for ~3 years because I didn’t feel I could afford it   #(yes government healthcare does not cover dental)   #(OHIP has some very weird-looking exceptions)   #(this is probably the result of some kind of complicated political negotiation that I’m not sure I want to know the details of)   #anyway a dental checkup seems like a good compromise between celebratory and practical   #(and [practical celebrations are easier to enjoy]/[I find myself drawn to practical gifts these days anyway including gifts I buy for myself])   #((that safety thing manifests here especially))   #((the things I dream of buying these days are always things that protect you from something))   #((checkups that protect you from tooth damage and electric cars that protect you from rising oil prices and solar-powered phone chargers that protect you from power outages))   #((this I am much less sure I endorse))   #((I mean I think it is good to want practical things but it would also probably be good if I felt safe enough to want a few non-practical things too))   #(((sometimes on especially bad brain days I can’t even bring myself to play Flight Rising)))   #(((that is currently the most common cause of my FR hiatuses)))   #(((it used to be the most common cause was that I felt like playing some other game instead)))

#I will put this in the tags though: #I was reading my Tumblr archive recently and *damn* 2014!me was having a hard time #she didn’t talk about it much in public but occasionally she couldn’t quite hold it in anymore and it leaked out into a post #I felt very sorry for her #basically what I’m saying is #hi 2022!me #I hope you’re in a good enough position that you can feel sorry for me rather than going ”yeah I still know that feel” #(but if so please do still provide for farther-future!us) #(just with a healthier frame of mind) #(maybe buy solar chargers *and* video games)

Hi, 2018!me.

I won’t lie to you: I do still know that feel. Things haven’t really changed much for us financially: still a slow bleeding kept at bay by unpredictable one-time cash infusions, still with a-home-in-good-repair being a cherished but distant dream. Still taking some gigs at $1.30/hour, though only the especially easy ones now. We graduated last year, and the diploma’s been *exactly* as much of a waste of time and resources as we feared it would be, though I have not quite lost hope altogether. I have made only $309 in deposits to my retirement fund, in the time since I was you.

Financially, we still don’t have the stability and security that we long for.

*Non*-financially, though, our position has improved. We’ve made new friends, and even mostly managed to keep the old, and (in addition to the non-practicality-related aspects) they’ve taught us (and we them) many useful things. I’m in better shape now: not *great* shape, but on a good day I can run for half an hour straight (almost two miles!), and even on moderately bad days I can do twenty minutes. I still work at the restaurant, but I’m allowed to mask at work now (I know, right, we thought that would *never* happen, didn’t even dare hope for it), and we were–by, admittedly, a terrifyingly narrow margin–not fucked over by the travesty that set the precedent that workplaces allow employees to mask.

(If this were two-way communication, I’d have opened with advice on getting higher-grade and more durable masks while they’re still easy to come by, so that the margin won’t be so terrifyingly narrow. But it isn’t, and I will have to content myself with knowing that it worked out for us in the end.)

(It didn’t work out, for a lot of people. A lot of people, in a lot of ways, are worse off now than they were in 2018. I do not live in as flourishing a world as we would hope.

But we, personally, were fortunate in this regard: we rose through the cracks of the problems that hit everyone, and that actually ended up counteracting a lot of the problems that were specific to us. It’s where most of the one-time cash infusions came from; it’s why I haven’t been sick–not *really* sick, not anything bad enough to make me wish I were unconscious–in over three and a half of the four years that separate us.)

((common-cold-induced depression isn’t normal, BTW. you know that weird non-depressive cold we had in December of 2017? yeah, that’s just what colds are like for normal people. sure does explain a lot about why people are Like That.))

Anyway. Our safety hasn’t improved as much as we were hoping, but it *has* improved. We’ve been through storms, but we’ve weathered them. (I even successfully handled not having a functioning toilet for five days! I’d prepared a contingency plan for that, and it paid off!)

The Ontarian government has announced plans to start covering dental care in a couple of years (a long enough delay that I’ve decided it’s still worth paying for a checkup this year, though I may skip next year). Our parents’ pensions will start trickling in next year, with the bigger ones starting in 2025. I still have a couple more ideas for how to break into an accounting career, and I still have the option of changing tacks and making a living in an unrelated field.

In the time since I was you, I have bought both a solar panel and a video game.

One way or another, we’ll get through this.

Remember, I love you.


#reply via reblog #oh look an update #adventures in human capitalism #adventures in University Land #in which Brin has a job #101 Uses for Infrastructureless Computers #covid19 #illness tw #this probably deserves some other warning tag but I am not sure what #venting cw? #bragging cw? #kind of both


This passage from the ACX Society of the Spectacle reader review really struck me:

Now our role models are media creations. Some are literal fictional characters (James Bond); others are nominally real people (Kylie Jenner). But both are merely representations – images usurping an essential formative role. ‘William Shatner’ and ‘Robert Downey, Jr.’ are only marginally more real than Captain Kirk and Tony Stark, yet they occupy way more headspace than people that live down the street.

Most people can name more celebrities, in more detail, than people they’ve known in person. I know the names of Will Smith’s kids – I don’t even know if my best friends from high school have any.

Like—is that true? Can that possibly be true? How does that happen? It’s asserted as if it’s just obvious, and it seems like a shocking claim to me.

(Now, the entire review feels like this somewhat. But this passage really stood out as sounding completely insane to me.)

This struck me as one of the *relatively* sane bits of that article, although I think it says more about rootlessness than it does about [knowing a lot about celebrities]. I *don’t* know whether my best friends from middle school have kids, because I live in a different country from them now. I think I *would* have heard if my friends from high school had had kids, but if we had all scattered to the winds it would be another story. I have spent over *three months* trying to start getting to know people down the street, and in that time the volunteering group in question has held exactly one meetup that they *both* remembered to tell me about *and* didn’t cancel. (I shudder to think how hard it would be if there hadn’t even *been* a volunteering group already in place.)

To me the completely insane part was this bit:

“We’ve all felt the shockwaves of the Internet explosion.  Life is *different* now. It takes an act of will to put down your phone so you can focus on the TV.  Low battery is an emergency. Losing signal is bereavement. Navigating without GPS is an anxiety attack.

Do you remember what it was like, not so long ago?  How exciting it was to play videogames with someone a thousand miles away? How cool it was the first time you streamed a movie on an airplane? That sense of possibility and promise, like all the world was in the palm of your hand?”

In order of appearance:

1. If I have access to a TV (implying that I’m at home), why am I on a phone and not a laptop?

1a. I generally do have my laptop open while watching TV, *because* I generally only watch TV as a social activity with online friends.

2. I frequently go entire days without touching my phone; on most days that I interact with my phone I do so for only a minute or two; on most days that I interact with my phone for more than five cumulative minutes it’s because I’m updating its software or local files. Note that I have it set to sync SMS messages to my laptop over KDE Connect, so I do not need to touch my phone to notice that I have received a text or even to respond to it.

3. Low battery is an occasional annoyance. The worst-case scenario is that because my phone is dead I don’t notice the text from my boss offering me an extra shift on short notice, which *did* almost happen to me yesterday but fortunately I still had 6% left. I suppose I shall be *slightly* more careful, given that reminder that functioning phones are *occasionally* unexpectedly important.

4. *Despite* low phone battery not majorly featuring in my life, I carry two USB cables, a small solar generator, and an AC adapter at all times whenever leaving my home. Surely someone who cared desperately about maintaining phone charge should be, if anything, *more* careful?

5. I didn’t even *have* a SIM card for over *six years* after getting my first smartphone. Even now, my data plan is 250 MB per month: an occasional backup, not remotely something I can afford to leave on all the time. Everything about my smartphone is oriented around Internet access being erratic and/or heavily rationed: the *point* of a smartphone, for me, is that it can be made largely self-sufficient, that you can keep your digital belongings not only with you but *accessible* even when you are far from home and signal alike.

6. I did not have GPS until 2014, and I assure you that navigating without GPS was *always* nightmarish even when I *hadn’t* experienced anything better.

7. I *do* enjoy watching over a friend’s shoulder from two thousand miles away while they play a video game and we chat about it, although our schedules haven’t worked out lately.

8. Wait, streaming movies on airplanes is possible now? Since when? I was last on a plane in 2015 bold of OP to assume I can afford to travel and that was definitely not a thing, although it *was* a downmarket airline so maybe fancy planes could arrange for it. Do they still call it “airplane mode”?

9. The world *is*, almost literally, in the palm of my hand.


#Brin owns *two* 2010’s computers now #reply via reblog #101 Uses for Infrastructureless Computers #proud citizen of The Future #adventures in human capitalism