Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Top 5 Thoughts on Kids and Money

While going through my email recently I came across some thoughts from my brother-in-law on kids and money. My response was my top 5 thoughts on kids and money (earlier):

1) There are chores you have to do because you are a part of the family. There are extra chores you can do to earn money (I think I might let my kids bid against each other on these).
2) During the summer they can do extra work for you/neighbors/businesses.
3) The older they get the longer their pay periods are.
4) Buy a piggy bank that can only be cracked open. Anything they add to savings we will match dollar for dollar (like my own retirement account). Encourage them to keep a ledger of what has gone in so they can have an estimate of when/if they want to crack it open.
5) I'd like them to tithe, so pay day is church day so they can take their "first fruits" to church that day. I'd also like to encourage them to give money away. I'm not quite sure what the kid equivalent of a tax deduction is.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Economics of the Flu Vaccine

This is the first year I've ever gotten a flu shot. This is the first year I've ever gotten something like the flu (that eventually or was always pneumonia). I have been convinced, perhaps expectantly to get a flu shot every year for now on. How you might ask?

The classic explanation for government subsidy and distribution of vaccines is externalities. We often hear the word associated with negative externalities like pollution, unemployment, or even panhandling. However there can also be things that have positive spillovers, like vaccines. But externalities is only part of the story. There are two other issues two information and temporal. Here's the information needed:

1) Cost: Most people can get it for free
2) Pain: Be a wimp like me and try the new needle so small you can't even see it and it literally cannot hurt you
3) Hassle: Bring your phone and do something useful on it (even if calling your mom is all you can)
4) Likelihood of making a difference: What I take away from this experience is that if I get 50 more flu shots and it only makes a difference for 1 person 1 time it's worth it. I've felt like crap for 7 days, I'll do a lot to keep that from happening again.

And that brings us to the other issue, the temporal. All the "hard" work of getting a flu shot doesn't benefit you immediately if at all. It benefits some future version of you. The key is to get that present you to help the future you. How do you do it? Write a blog post about how much you want a flu shot when your sick, that way when you get better you'll remember this YOU'RE ONLY GETTING OLDER AND SICKER.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I Had Roses and Apologized to No One

my sick station
I've been holed up in my guest bedroom with a "flu-like virus" and a fluctuating fever of over 100 degrees since Sunday afternoon. Most recent record was 103.8 degrees and the scale says I've lost 5% of my body weight. This is the worst I've physically felt in memory. I haven't been able to keep any real food down and haven't gone to work all week. It's been an interesting contrast to the last time I took some time off, right after my baby girl was born in October.

I've been reminded of the phrase at the title of this post, "I had roses and apologized to no one", from everybody's favorite libertarian superhero V for Vendetta. There is a character dying in prison of a deadly disease, but instead of dwelling on her current state, Valerie remembers back to the few good years she had before her world went bad. So I've decided, while I'm in my sweaty, hacky, drug filled state, I'd like to remember those 3 weeks in October:

looks this good overdue
By October 10th my wife Traci was already 3 days overdue, so we decided to get out of house, grab a bite to eat out and buy me some khaki corduroy pants I'd been wanting for so long. When we got home I gave my wife free reign on a movie selection. She choose a classic Traci favorite, The Break-Up. I guess we were prepping for our real tears with some celluloid ones.

taking a stroll,
pausing for contractions
Traci starting feeling labor pains in the middle of the night Thursday morning. For the next 20 hours or so, we labored in the house with our doula and walked around the neighborhood. The actual process of contractions, although very intense, were, in my wife's own words, "not as bad as expected". And I really enjoyed the bonding of going through it together.

not all newborns are that cute 
The last hour or so of the birth was a different story. This is the only part they show in movies because it is super intense. My wife did amazing job and at 3:32 am Friday, October 12th Traci gave birth naturally to Mae Harper Brookie. 20.5 inches and 6 pounds 4 ounces, long and thin just like her parents.

about to leave
Our plan was to spend as little time at the hospital and get to the comfort of our new home quickly. However, I was blown away at the quality of the midwives, nurses, lactation consultants, etc (though the rumors of bad food were true). I've concluded that the last big innovation in medicine is great customer service.

resting on the porch
We got home with Mae on Sunday and thus began a wonderful 2 weeks at home together (in fact I'd been so busy leading up to the birth I hadn't really spent a full day in our new house yet). The 3 of us trying to figure out eating, sleeping, and soothing together. Cuddle naps with Mae while my wife lifeguarded to ensure everyone's safety. Friends and family brought us delicious meal after delicious meal and they were all so sweet to Mae.

family of Kiko the new baby giraffe
We mostly kept ourselves during this time, with a few trips to the outside world. Some strolls around neighborhood, church, a meal out with my family, and even got a chance to walk downtown, baby strapped to me, to say goodbye to a friend moving away. And Halloween is always more fun with a baby. I ended up only missing one Alchemy show, but the theater ran just fine without me.

Like the bad times, the good times are mostly out of our control. A year ago I came to Greenville saddened by my work load, the impossibility of finding a house we could agree on, difficulty getting pregnant, and the improv community I left behind in NC. And here I am a year later with all of those desires fulfilled. I embraced the reality of suffering then, and I embrace the reality of joy now. We shouldn't brag on the upswing or be ashamed on the down. Stop and enjoy the roses you've been given and hold on to them for the future. Apparently my baby has been smiling up a storm the last few days. I look forward to seeing it in person myself. Here's a teaser for us:

Monday, November 05, 2012

Last Minute Voting Guide

"Remember, remember, the 5th of November, the blog post of treason and links." I've put a lot less energy into blogging lately, but I did give some thought about tomorrow's election and if I had anything new to say. It's turns out I don't. So here's a quick summary what I have said over the last 4 years:

1) It's okay NOT to vote. In fact, with the general lack of useful knowledge on the issues, it may be best not to.
2) It's okay TO vote, but be honest with yourself, statistically your vote doesn't matter. It's because it makes you feel good to get out and do something to support your team.
3) The BEST reason to vote is to push the political discussion in your preferred direction. It's not about the winning vote, it's about the marginal vote towards a bigger idea.
4) Your political perspectives are always SHIFTING. Who knows, in 4 years I may be voting for someone who actually wins.

I won $20 from dad in the last election betting on Obama. It looks like I'll win another $20 on him in this election from my brother. God bless America.