2021 Michigan Road Trip

This summer we drove to Michigan to visit my dad and celebrate his 75th birthday. Because I’m still playing the Superchargers Visited game (2019 trip, 2020 trip), I had to choose routes that didn’t overlap with previous ones. Fortunately, that left lots of fresh ground to cover and we spent a lot more of this trip on highways and less time on the interstates.

The slower pace and smaller roads made road tripping more fun as I got to experience that joy of discovery that is rare on freeways. Sometimes the discoveries are, “huh, this route through Kansas is every bit as interesting as every other route through Kansas.” Other times, like driving through northern Wisconsin and Indiana, we stumbled through some lovely little towns and cities that were well kept and seem to have avoided the fate of so many rustbelt towns.

This trips haul was 86 unique superchargers visited over 9 days of driving.

PodSwap

A year ago I gave my old AirPods to Kayla because the batteries didn’t last very long. Now they’ve reached the point where they only last 5 minutes on a charge. I’m pretty handy at replacing batteries in iPhones and  Watches so I looked up info on how to do it for AirPods. And then I looked at how much Apple charges to replace the batteries ($49 per Airpod, $98 for the pair). And then I found PodSwap. So I ordered a swap for $60. If you have an old pair of AirPods needing new batteries, try them and save 10%.

Dripsie

A few months ago I listened to a How I Built This episode about the Dripsie, a meticulously and carefully designed sink strainer. I have a garbage disposal in the bottom of our single bowl kitchen sink and thus have no need for a Dripsie. I bought a two-pack anyway and took them up to our ski lodge to try them out.

They work much better than the old stainless strainers full of little holes. Even when they’re full up with food scraps, they continue to drain very well. Tonight Alicia asked me where I got them. At first I couldn’t remember and googled a few terms related to sink strainers with no luck at all. Then I finally remembered the name Dripsie and voila.

Finance books worth reading

Here are a few books on finance and investing that I’ve read and recommend.

  • The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
  • The Four Pillars of Investing by William Bernstein
  • A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel
  • Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  • When Genius Failed by Roger Lowenstein
  • Financial Statement Analysis by Martin Fridson
  • One Up On Wall Street by Peter Lynch
  • Asset Allocation by Roger Gibson
  • The Neatest Little Guide to Stock Market Investing by Jason Kelly

Humor: COVID 19

  1. What types of jokes are allowed during quarantine? Inside jokes!
  2. I’ll tell you a coronavirus joke now, but you’ll have to wait two weeks to see if you got it.
  3. Why do they call it the novel coronavirus? It’s a long story….
  4. Why don’t chefs find coronavirus jokes funny? They’re in bad taste.
  5. What do you tell yourself when you wake up late for work and realize you have a fever? Self, I so late.
  6. Let me get this straight, there’s no cure for a virus that can be killed by sanitizer and hand soap?
  7. Why didn’t the sick guy get the joke? It flu over his head.
  8. When this virus thing is over with, I still want some of you to stay away from me.
  9. If these last months have taught us anything, it’s that stupidity travels faster than any virus on the planet, particularly among politicians.
  10. Wait – you’re telling me that my chance of surviving all this is directly linked to the common sense of others? You’re kidding, right?
  11. People are scared of getting fined or arrested for congregating in crowds, as if catching a deadly disease and dying a horrible death wasn’t enough of a deterrent.
  12. If you believe all this will end and we will get back to normal just because we reopen everything, raise your hand. Now slap yourself with it.
  13. So many coronavirus jokes out there, it’s a pundemic.
  14. Whoever decided a liquor store is more essential than a hair salon is obviously a bald-headed alcoholic.
  15. Remember when you were little and all your underwear had the days of the week on them. That would be helpful right now.
  16. The spread of Covid-19 is based on two factors: 1. How dense the population is and 2. How dense the population is.
  17. Remember those times when you wished the weekend would last forever? Wish granted. Happy now?
  18. It may take a village to raise a child, but it’s going to take a vineyard to home school one.
  19. Did a big load of pajamas so I would have enough clean work clothes for this week.

(some jokes without links blatantly stolen from Dean Forbes post on NextDoor)

Please don’t use TurboTax or H&R Block

If you ever wondered why we can’t have single form tax returns, or automatically prepared tax returns with the information the IRS already has, the reason is because Intuit and H&R Block have made it illegal for the IRS to offer such a service.

They’re trying to perpetuate that status quo, permanently preventing the IRS from offering tax prep software. The best way to fight them is to never again pay them a single penny.

For tax prep, I’ve been using credit karma for the past couple years and I recommend it.

RIP: Methuselah

In the year 2013 we acquired our fish tank and a few goldfish from Highland Terrace Elementary. Months later our tank population grew when neighbor kids tired of their fish. The goldfish eventually outgrew our tank and retired to an outdoor pond. We replaced with a few Neon Tetras. One by one, the tank population shrank until 2016 when only one (from our neighbors) remained: Methuselah the Ancient.

Methuselah moved with us to our new home in 2016. After that initial year of construction and mayhem we added two more fish, three snails, and a pair of shrimp. Methuselah had tank mates again but he paid them as much attention as they paid him: not much at all. Methuselah the Ancient has been the subject of many stories and his old owners still come visit (he never knew they weren’t coming to see him).

On Saturday June 16, 2018, Methuselah the Ancient was found stuck to the intake of the water filter. Farewell oh ancient one.

dumb questions

Straight from the department of Don’t Ask Questions You Don’t Want To Know Answers To comes today’s plumbing edition: “how much water could possibly be left in this pipe?!”

Lazy Basil

I’ve grown Basil on our windowsills for a few years. Version 3 is now growing in Utz Cheese Ball containers.

Basil plant, potted in a Utz Cheese Ball container
Basil in a 2-gallon Utz Cheese Ball container.

With flower pots, I used a moisture sensor and watered the plants a couple of times a week.

Version 2 of my window planters was less pretty but massively more functional gallon milk jugs. Their square shape provided far more volume in the same sill print. In that extra space, I also integrated some physics to reduce maintenance. I put an inch of gravel in the bottom of the jugs, a layer of fabric, and then filled the jug with potting soil. The fabric just keeps the soil out of the gravel. The gravel provides drainage when the soil gets saturated. As the soil dries, water wicks up from the gravel via capillary action and moistens the soil from below. When I can’t see water in the bottom, add some. It worked very well.

While v2 worked great for the plants, the gallon milk jugs were hard on the eyes. I watched for substitute containers. Last years make-the-walls-7-inches-deeper-project left us with 9″ deep window sills. That permitted use of containers in many more sizes and shapes.

Version 3 was born when the last jug of cheese balls was empty. I nipped off the top couple inches and assembled it the same way as v2. I dropped in a few basil plants and set them in my West window. They couldn’t be happier. Since I only have to water them every few weeks, I’m happy too. It’s time to buy more cheese balls!