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The past 24 hours of questions at Ask MetaFilter

Published: Thu, 21 Sep 2017 15:57:01 GMT

Last Build Date: Thu, 21 Sep 2017 15:57:01 GMT


Should I update my dev machine to the latest Mac OS?

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 15:57:01 GMT

I'm a web developer (mostly python). Is there a good reason to update to High Sierra?

I'm currently on El Capitan 10.11.6 on a 2013 MB Pro Retina. It works fine. Most of my day to day work involves Python, Pycharm, Django, Anaconda, Pandas, Jupyter, Git, etc.
Is there any good reason to update? A solid one not to?
I use Android phones, so iOS integration is not a thing for me.
I've read about the new filesystem, supposed to be faster? My laptop is fast enough, Pycharm lags sometimes when reindexing, so I guess that could be a plus if it actually made a difference.

Portable physics primer?

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 15:51:53 GMT

Best resources for learning physics on a commute?

As mentioned in a previous AskMe, I have about a 2-3 hour commute (round trip) per day. Normally I read novels or check my email, listen to podcasts, etc., but I'm getting to the point where I'm interested in doing something more constructive.

I've always been interested in physics but the most education I have is a very very elementary "college credit" class from high school, which as I recall was kind of a joke, and I don't remember much of the content. I never took any physics courses in college. I have Calculus, some linear algebra (though I could use more), and a CS background.

I'm interested in the basics and perhaps eventually more of an EE type training. I don't mind working things out on paper, doing problem sets, writing simulations, etc. The thing is it's quite bumpy on my commute so I would actually prefer either book/paper resources or handheld electronic resources for the commute itself, because trying to do anything seriously on my laptop is a pain. Laptop things (like simulations) are fine but I will be doing them in a different context.

Any suggestions as to where to start?

asbestos tiles on a brick house

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 15:37:27 GMT

My husband and I bought a house. It is a row house made out of brick. The back wall has asbestos tiling on it that looks a lot like this. We have hired a general contractor to remove the tiles. Should we put some new tiles or siding on that wall once the old tiles are removed?

Behind the house, there is a tree-covered hill that goes up rather sharply. We asked the general contractor why there might be asbestos tiles on that back wall and he said he had no idea. We live in a very rainy place and he said sometimes you see asbestos tiles that were put on exposed walls as protection against bad weather, but in his opinion our particular wall is pretty sheltered. We asked the previous owners and they also had no idea why the tiles were there. They said the tiles were already there when they bought the house in the 70's.

In our initial discussions with the contractor, we were talking about replacing the tiles with new, non-asbestos tiles or some other kind of siding. And then it occurred to me to ask: "Is there a reason we have to replace those tiles with something?" And the contractor thought for a minute and said, "No, not really. Maybe a bit more insulation?" The contract we ended up signing basically says that they'll take down the tiles and then based on what they find, we'll decide what to do next.

My husband is in favor of replacing the asbestos tiles with new tiles or new siding, I think because he's afraid if we don't, then our new house is going to get ruined somehow. And I understand that fear, because I've got a bit of it too. But I also can't get over the feeling that putting vinyl siding on top of brick is just sort of silly as well as being a waste of money.

So I have a few questions. First: how much would it help with insulation to add siding to the outside of a brick house? Second: does brick really need to be protected from the weather? The house was built in 1930 if it matters and is generally in very good condition. Third: if we remove the tiles, and it turns out the brickwork needs repair, could we just have them repair that and then leave it like that? Finally: what things am I missing, forgetting, or misunderstanding here?

Ontario Maternity Income

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 14:09:48 GMT

I am a freelancer living in Ontario, Canada, and am happily one month pregnant. How does maternity income work for freelancers? What should I do to maximize my maternity income?

I don't really understand how Ontario maternity income works, and am feeling a bit too overwhelmed to make sense of it. Can anyone summarize it for me?

I usually work freelance for a number of different companies. I have a decent skill set so I would likely be able to get a job- especially a contract job.

What's the most ethical, and practical, solution? Should I
- Try to find full time "forever" work, and not mention I'm pregnant until it's impossible to hide?
- Try to find a 6 month contract - and in that case, would it be ok to say I'm pregnant, assuming I'd be able to complete the contract by about 8 months pregnant?
- Try to just pick up random freelance gigs and just make more money?

Is there anything else I should be considering?

Quotes about implementation

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 14:00:11 GMT

I'm looking for quotes that say that having a vision is not enough for a strategy, it also needs a plan for implementation and the allocation and co-ordination of resources. Basically something that sums up that it's not enough to have an idea, there needs to be a practical method for making it happen also. The pithier the quote and the loftier the source the better!

Banner/topper for merchandiser fridge?

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 13:59:54 GMT

Trying to find an insert (?) for the top of a merchandiser fridge to replace the boring one it came with. Google is failing me, because I don't actually know what these things are called, though I'm sure there's a name for it!

This is such a silly question, and I feel like a dunce for wasting an askme on it, but:
Recently purchased a new merchandiser fridge (like this one) for the bar at our volunteer-run club. I'd like to swap out the boring white plastic topper thingy with something else: maybe a snazzy little chalkboard that could slide in there? Or maybe have something custom printed with our logo? Or maybe something generic, but not so boring? Not sure of what my options even are...
This is the spot where often a branded banner will go (like this), but since ours is not sponsored, it's just plain at the moment. The white plastic part definitely comes out relatively easily, and looks like it is designed to be replaced, or have something added (some sort of printed plastic? I dunno) to the display. There is an led light behind the white plastic to light up this area.
I cannot for the life of me figure out what this piece of the equipment is called, so my searches so far (to find something to replace it, or just to figure out what it's designed to accommodate) have been useless. Can you help?
Is this something that can be easily purchased? What should I be searching for, and what kind of business would sell them? Or are most places getting these custom made? If so, what terms am I looking for to ask a printshop about?

Hibiscus pairings

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 12:24:19 GMT

I have a copy of the flavor Bible and lo and behold there's no column for hibiscus!

I have been making hibiscus ice cream, but I would like to know what other things pair well with hibiscus.

Ideas:rosewater, lavender.

Any other suggestions?

Which dry cat food is better for preventing UTIs and blockages

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 12:11:44 GMT

Which is the better dry cat food for a male cat (desexed) to prevent UTIs and blockages?

a) Royal Canin Prescription Urinary S/O Adult Cat Food
"For the nutritional management of cats with struvite or oxalate crystals and lower urinary tract disease. Promotes the production of undersaturated urine which is unfavourable to the formation of struvite and calcium oxalate crystals, making it a suitable diet for the long term prevention of urolithiasis."

b) Hill's Prescription Diet C/D Multi Care Stress Adult Cat Food
"Nutritionists & veterinarians developed Hill's Prescription Diet c/d Multicare Stress Feline clinical nutrition specially formulated to support your cat's urinary health while also helping to manage stress. In fact, c/d Multicare is clinically tested nutrition to lower the recurrence of most common urinary signs by 89%."

(Advice is welcome, as long as it doesn't involve feeding wet food, which is not possible, because Reasons.)

Girl from the North Country

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 07:27:38 GMT

I guess there's no way for me to get one ticket to Girl from the North Country at the Old Vic for tonight? I leave London tomorrow but have checked everywhere I can think of and it seems to be completely sold out. Any insider tricks I'm not considering?

Laptop number keys not responding - Samsung Series 9

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 07:09:14 GMT

Non-responsive keys on laptop; what more can I try?

I have a Samsung Series 9 laptop that is a few years old. I updated from Windows 8 to Windows 10 a while back, and all seemed fine. However, the keyboard recently stopped working properly. Certain numbers (1, 3, 5, 7(?) and 9), plus several random letters, are not responsive. For the past couple of months, I've resorted to an external keyboard, which works fine but is cumbersome.

Things I have tried: installing latest driver updates, cleaning out the keyboard, running antivirus. I also performed a system recovery, but it would only 'let' me choose a recovery date of yesterday.

I'm guessing this is a software (not hardware) issue, because the keys in question have sometimes temporarily started working again when the computer restarts.

Any answers that explain like I'm 5 will be much appreciated!

Can you turn a single speed bike into a 3-speed?

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 06:18:33 GMT

I am shocked at my lack of knowledge about bikes. Someone has a single speed Worksman bike for sale that fits my sudden need of a bike but I really need a 3 speed. Is it something that a bike shop could do for me?

Mystery Sexy Theater 3000

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 05:16:07 GMT

I've been invited to a bad erotica reading. I need ridiculous erotica!

Basically, I need erotica that would turn up on MST3K if MST3K were about reading erotica.

It needs to be a) in the same zipcode as sexy, b) inept, c) have spirit and d) make drunks with low senses of humor laugh.

This is a fantastic example of what I'm looking for (and you should listen to it anyway if you're not at work, it's hilarious)

Other ridiculous sexy-adjacent stuff could work too, like old-timey marriage manuals or fundy how-to-not-masturbate texts. Sexy fanfic would be great for this.


Thu, 21 Sep 2017 03:26:28 GMT

You have a book that you are halfway done. It is not what you expected. You hope it gets better but it doesn't. Do you finish the book or call it quits? How long does it take for you to decide that a book isn't worth the effort anymore? What do you do with this book when you are done with it? Donate, Trash, Put on a shelf.

Unbreakable hair claws?

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 03:15:36 GMT

Anyone know if unbreakable hair claws exist anywhere? The ones I can find snap immediately upon contact with my hair.

A couple weekends ago, I sadly lost one of my beloved unbreakable hair claws (seriously I had been babying this thing for 12 years! Replacing the spring when it broke and everything! I'm quite distraught I finally lost it). The reason it was so great? It was made of a plastic that had some give to it so it didn't immediately snap upon meeting my hair in a bun, like those cheapo goody ones do.

I have one left, but I figured I should finally ask if anyone knows of any I could order online, my google searching has proven fruitless.

These are more or less the size I want (~1.5 inches) Color being more or less irrelevant. The one I lost was hot pink.

Style me for a black tie wedding!

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 03:13:07 GMT

I have a black tie wedding, a used bridesmaid dress, and no idea how to style it so I look like a fancy wedding guest. My dress is a wine-colored version of this. I want to accessorize with some easily accessible, hopefully affordable accessories, but my jewelry collection is minimal. How should I style it?

The wedding, next month, is for a pair of professional DC gay men who made it clear that the Black Tie is not optional. I am a 32 year old midwesterner who has only ever worn cocktail dresses (or this bridesmaid's dress) to weddings.

Cheap way to get a US phone number for accounts text/call while abroad?

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 02:18:46 GMT

I recently moved to China from the US and made a bit of a blunder. I let my American number lapse thinking that I would just get a number in China... that has been fine, but now I don't know what to do for credit cards and bank accounts! I have a friend letting me use their physical address, but I don't know what to do about the phone number. More details inside!

I looked into a skype number, but they can't receive texts. I'm wondering if that would be good enough? I mean, some people in the US don't have cell phones and they certainly have credit cards and bank accounts, right?

If not, I'm not sure what to do. Cheap to me is ideally <10USD a month. I looked into Google Voice, but you need an American phone number to hook it up to. I tried setting it up with the skype number and it wouldn't let me use it to verify the voice number.

I'm particularly not sure what to do given I'm outside of the country, though I do have friends I trust willing to help me out/send me stuff/etc.

Thank you!

Recommend where to donate for Carribean Island hurricane relief?

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 02:13:42 GMT

This hurricane season has been brutal. What NGOs are most likely to successfully deliver disaster, public health, and reconstruction relief?

Can I eat this? - chicken stock left out for 12 hours....

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 02:06:53 GMT

I would ordinarily throw something like this out immediately but I am out of grocery money and this stock was made with a beautiful organic chicken and a pile of local veggies. Both were gifts. After eating the chicken for dinner last night, I slow-cooked the rest of the carcass overnight. This morning, I drained the hot stock into a pot and accidentally left the pot uncovered in the sink while I went to work. Temp outside today was a humid 75 fahrenheit and it's a shady kitchen. Keep or toss?

Finding what happened to person in prison

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 01:34:53 GMT

Asking for a friend: I need some help navigating the prison system. I have a cousin who is in federal prison in West Virginia. He was taken out to have surgery, and we have not heard from him in about a month or so.

I've tried calling the prison several times and have sent an email, but have not heard anything. We're very worried about his health and want to find out what is going to make sure that he is getting appropriate care. However, at this point I'm just hitting walls. Any advice or other help to navigate this system would be very much appreciated! Thank you so much in advance for you help!

Tell Me About My Computer

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 00:29:03 GMT

I've just bought a refurbished laptop to replace the former-job-assigned Mac that was my travel computer. It's adorable. And tiny. I have no idea what half its specs mean, and probably don't need to, but... what can I do with my new widget?

Tech Details: It's a Dell Lattitude E7240 12.5" Ultrabook, Intel Core i5-4300U Dual-Core, 128GB Solid State Drive, 8GB DDR3, 802.11n with Win 10 Pro.

I've got lots of experience with Win 7 and XP. (I desperately miss XP's search function; I use Agent Ransack now.) I can barely operate a Mac. Never worked with Win 10. My most hardcore computer use is document processing; I do some video games, but nothing high-performance that I'd want on a 12" screen.

Current often-used software: Word, Acrobat Pro, Photoshop, Firefox, Chrome, Skype, Slack, Dropbox, Steam, Notepad, Paint, and more obscure things like Calibre, Sigil, Scrivener. I run into production hangups from multiple browser tabs more than anything else.

I mostly want to do web browsing, doc editing in Word or something similar, and maybe watch videos. LibreOffice, Calligra, Atlantis, even an older version of AbiWord are possibilities. (I'd buy Word if they still sold it without a subscription.) I want to avoid production software that requires cloud access - I use g'docs, but they're not a replacement for Word.

Questions (any feedback welcome):
  • What can I expect for battery life? (With and without wi-fi active.)
  • I expect to use this in a lot of public places - coffee shops, airports, hotels, etc. Any special suggestions related to that?
  • Could I comfortably run my normal software set, if I had them all installed? If not, what limits should I expect?
  • This one is dual-core; my current laptop (an Alienware monster, albeit a few years old) is quad-core; am I going to notice the difference in anything other than video games?
  • Any tips on getting used to the touchpad? (I use a trackball mouse. Should I just expect to use one of my USB slots for mousing, or are there ways to learn speed and accuracy with a touchpad?)
  • Any special tips about substitute software? I can do the pros-and-cons searching, but won't know things like, "don't bother with GIMP because the menu windows will be too big to work with."
  • Security software suggestions are welcome. I have a MalwareBytes subscription on my main computer, and Avast's free version.
  • 128 GB is a much smaller drive than I'm used to. I have portable drives and cloud options; any tips about what needs to go in the C drive?

Like Jumanji, but with fewer lions

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 00:25:48 GMT

I want to DIY a board/card game as a gift for my partner, based on a set of characters and world we have built together. I'm looking for already existing games to model off of or just reskin, rather than making a whole new game.

While I would love to sit down and create my own board game from scratch, that's a little out of my time/energy scope right now. I'm expecting a lot of art to be involved in the making of this game (after all, that's where all the personalization comes in), so I'd like to dedicate most of my effort towards that.

I can do digital art of any kind: people, animals, backgrounds (with a lot of groaning, but I can do it). So cards, boards, etc. I can decorate with ease. I have access to a 3D printer and have successfully sculpted a model of a fantasy animal in Sculptris and then also successfully 3D printed it, so I can make anything up to the complexity of an animal (don't think I could do a human figurine, though). I've also worked with Sculpey and know I could make animal figurines... maybe human ones, but I'm a little skeptical there. I may have access to woodcutting tools through my father, though I don't know exactly what he has.

I want something that will specifically involve our characters, so anything that is currently focused on characters/people of some kind would be good. Having places for bits of lore/text to be worked in is great too. I also have a variety of locations and fantasy creatures I can work in, though it's not a requirement. The world is urban fantasy, so a fantasy element would be best, but I'm sure I could work with games that don't have that as well.

Here are some games my partner and I have enjoyed:
- Ascension
- Magic: the Gathering: Arena of the Planeswalkers
- One Night Ultimate Werewolf
- Ticket to Ride
- A Series of Unfortunate Events: the Perilous Parlor Game
- The concept of this hilariously bad LOTR board game (Seriously, it could have been so good, it was just... extremely broken)

What I'm not looking for:
- Monopoly
- Chess
- Deckbuilding games that require 50+ cards to work (There's only so much art I can do!)

We already own Ascension, Magic: Planeswalkers, and Werewolf, so I'm not looking to replace those. Anything else is fair game (heh), though! Tips for how to construct the game (how to make decent looking cards, how to build a sturdy board + attach art, etc.) would also be appreciated.

Can't find this feminist song from the 70s

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 23:49:46 GMT

I'm looking for a song women marched to in the 70s.

I remember marching in the early 70s and singing a song that is still on the jukebox in my head. It went like this: "Oh sisters, don't you weep don't you moan. Oh sisters don't you weep don't you moan, because the women's army is marching, oh sisters don't you weep. Once of these days in the middle of the night, the women's army's going to set things right, because the women's army is marching, oh sisters don't you weep."
I'm sure there were more verses. This song has nothing to do with "Mary don't you weep" by Aretha and others, totally different melody and tempo. I could hum it but don't know how to put that here.
Kinda expected to find it on youtube, but some very weird and inappropriate things pop up.

Why is my employer re-requesting my passport and SS card?

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 23:21:39 GMT

Calling all Human Resources managers! I'm suspicious that my boss is up to something fishy, and I'm not sure if these suspicions are valid or not. He says the reason for the request is employment eligibility verification, however, I already provided these documents when I was hired. More details below.

I was working for a temp agency, and they placed me with my current company at the start of March 2017. The position was temp-to-hire and after my 90 days, the company purchased my contract, hired me, and promoted me to a desk job. Once they officially hired me on they had me bring in the necessary documents- my passport and my social security card. Today I didn't feel well and left two hours early. My boss seemed upset about it but I promised to make up the hours. Then tonight I receive a text from him requesting I bring these documents in again for employment eligibility verification, but I can't help but assume there are ill-intentions here.

I haven't had any "issues" of my employment aside from a few tardies. I havent been written up, either. I am concerned though that they're asking me to bring these things in in an attempt to terminate me. The reason I feel this way is because I have monthly doctors appointments which I've been assured won't be an issue as long as I make up the hours. They seem dissatisfied with me in my current role for seemingly no reason whatsoever, and I believe they're going to utilize some sort of small business loophole in order to terminate me. Should I be as concerned as I am?

Teaching abroad in retirement.

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 22:45:32 GMT

OK. Starting to do some long range planning. My wife and I would like to retire in three to eight years. Probably around five years from now. I would be 60 and she would be 65. Our after tax income will probably be between 2500 and 4000 bucks a month. House paid off. Liquid assets of $150,000 to possibly $400,000. No debt--hopefully.

I'm looking at two options, or a combination of both. Teaching abroad, or private tutoring here in Abilene. I think I might like to keep the house here and tutor in the spring, and go to a different country every six to nine months during the summer and fall. No country that's not an active war zone is off my list. Doable? Anybody with experience? Just any thoughts from my friends?Certified to teach special education K-12, all core subjects 4-8, all sciences 7-12, technology applications (not programming) K-12, I would be able to maintain my Texas teaching certification.

I only speak English. Had some French, German and Spanish in school. My wife had some Portuguese.

Relatively good health, but health care is an issue.

Is my sundew plant OK?

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 22:33:44 GMT

My sundew plant has been putting out lots of buds. Is this OK? I'm concerned because after my Venus flytrap flowered, it died.

One or two of the buds will open in full sunlight (they look like this). Then they close again. I've had the plant for a couple of months. I keep it in my south-facing kitchen window, where it gets plenty of morning sun. It stands in a saucer full of deionised water, which I refill whenever it's empty. It seems to produce lots of dew, and I think it's caught some fruit flies. Is there anything else I should be doing?

Turkey Cutlet Recipe from the '80s

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 21:58:43 GMT

I'm trying to find a recipe my mother used to make in the '80s. I think she found it on the back of a package of turkey cutlets.

I'm trying to find a recipe my mother used to make in the '80s. I think she found it on the back of a package of turkey cutlets.

As best as I can remember, the cutlets were topped with cheese, sliced red peppers, and some kind of tangy flavoring. It might have been called Mexican Turkey, but I'm not sure. I think it was Jennie-O brand, but I'm not sure about that either.

I've searched the Jennie-O and Honeysuckle White sites for both "Mexican Turkey," and the ingredients as I remember them, but I haven't seen anything that looks like what I'm trying to find.

Does anyone here know this recipe?

Need business Thank You gift - for a PO Box

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 21:35:37 GMT

I want to send someone a thank you gift for giving me repeat business. But the only mailing address I have available is a PO Box. That means I can't send chocolates (melty) or flowers (wilty). Do you have a suggestion for a small, business-appropriate gift that costs less than $50 and can sit in a PO Box for a few days without being ruined?

Iure Sanguinis & EU (Italian) citizenship — che cazzo?

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 20:07:54 GMT

My father became (was not born as) an Italian citizen in pre-EU times, but he has been living in the US as an American citizen for roughly 40 years. I was born in the US. How can I parlay this into EU citizenship for myself?

My father managed to hang onto Italian passports that expired in the 80s and some Italian documents that look naturalization-related.

I have read online that Italian citizens who naturalize elsewhere cause their children to lose Italian citizenship as well. I have also read that elsewhere-born children of an Italian citizen who naturalized in another country after 1912 do not automatically lose their citizenship when the parent naturalizes... though perhaps this only lasts until the age of majority?

So you're saying there's a chance...

I'm also assuming here that the route must be through Italy and that there is not some generic, non-state-specific, "parent was a citizen of an EU nation before EU-times" route to citizenship.

I understand that you are not a/my lawyer.

With depression, what gets you through the lowest days?

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 20:02:11 GMT

I have bipolar disorder and take mood stabilisers which helps with the mood swings, but sometimes out of nowhere my mood will totally plummet. There doesn't need to be any external cause although things like changes in sleep patterns can trigger it. Nothing that I usually enjoy (like cinema or music) makes me happy, the only thing that brings me comfort is overeating with takeaways and lying in bed all day trying to sleep it away, and my personal hygiene and self-care goes out the window. Obviously these are not good coping strategies. Thankfully I don't have issues with self-harm or self-medicating, but these episodes cause me a lot of emotional pain and I think my coping mechanisms make them last longer than they need to. I can't take anti-depressants with my illness because they can trigger a manic episode. What gets you through times like these, if you have this issue? At the moment I just have to ride them out but it gets exhausting.

Help! New auditor making totally arbitrary rules

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 19:32:49 GMT

Someone got promoted and they are earning their keep by creating new requirements that are arbitrary. This will reduce efficiency. Help me cope and consider my options!

Nobody has to access my files except for me. One of the items on our new operations checklist is a specific method of organizing files - paper and electronic. I will be audited on whether my files are in alpha order. Again, nobody ever needs to get at the files, and I work far more efficiently in my current system.

I am all for creating a consistent workforce when needed, delivering quality services. I take pride in my work. But this is busy work. Why does it matter how I have my data organized as long as I can use it and discuss it? I don't mind change, generally speaking, and can even thrive on it, but these changes all seem pointless. I think good managers leverage the skills of their subordinates to empower them to do their best work. This manager is hog-tying me in ways that are unnecessary.

We are also suddenly responsible for a mock consumable that in my many years here, nobody has ever told me was required.

We have been given two checklists to track our data for compiling into a report. This is in addition to the daily tracking required to do the job. My job is frontline humanitarian work and these extra requirements will limit my end user impact because I will need to devote at least an hour each day just managing these issues, on top of the other administrative aspects of the role.

The organizational culture is pretty flexible and small. But this year we suddenly have three bosses in my program, each responsible for some slightly different area. There is an adjustment period and I feel like this is an opportunity to make my needs known.

How can I do that tactfully, with the best chance of having this new auditor say "you know what, after hearing from you and others in the department I realize that I need to be checking for requirements that are not arbitrary"?

I'm not sure that is going to happen. I don't mind being audited, but being checked for things that don't really matter and are simply an extension of the individual person's way of designing their program before they got promoted is really irking me. Help!

Cracking the Code on Budgeting

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 19:17:28 GMT

I'm an independent contractor who is struggling to get a grip on my money. I struggle with coding my bank transactions in a timely way, coding transactions from different sources (PayPal/Amazon/checks), and having to code transactions repeatedly in different applications (Mint/Quickbooks SE/YNAB).

I want to know how much I make and what I spend it on each month, to start budgeting to achieve my goals, and to have the process of filing my taxes be less effortful than it is now.

What I think I want is a single program that will let me code all my transactions ONCE on my phone as they come in, to see budget reminders on my phone when I'm approaching or exceeding budget limits, and to generate weekly and monthly income and spending reports. Why is this so hard?

Right now I'm using Mint to categorize transactions, which is a laborious process that I am always, always behind in.

This task involves looking up and individually categorizing checks, PayPal transactions, and Amazon payments, each of which has its own special laborious workflow. Mint's UI is not particularly sophisticated, though the Mojito Chrome extension at least lets me filter transactions by date.

At the end of the tax year, I go through a huge grind to catch up with categorizing several months worth of back transactions.

Once I've worked through the backlog and have the totals for tax-related categories like business expenses and other deductibles, I use them to file my taxes using TurboTax. The actual tax filing process is pretty easy—it's the task of coding back transactions that makes it such a pain.

I tried to use YNAB, but I felt like I was always trying to catch up with my back transactions rather than actually budgeting. This was exacerbated by having to code all my transactions AGAIN in YNAB, since my Mint categories don't transfer to YNAB.

Plus, YNAB's approach of budgeting every category seems like overkill, since I only really have a handful of categories that are discretionary.

I thought Quickbooks might be the solution, since Intuit (maker of QB and TurboTax) acquired Mint, but it actually made the problem worse by creating a new, separate Intuit account for Mint, rather than adding it to my existing TurboTax account.

So now I have one Intuit account with all my Mint history, and one with TurboTax and Quickbooks, with no way to unify them. Plus, Quickbooks SE made me code my transactions AGAIN as tax-related.

I suspect I am seriously overcomplicating this. Please help me find a way to simplify my financial workflow!

P.S. If YNAB is the answer (and I know many folks feel that it is), how do I actually... get started budgeting with it? I've looked at videos and stuff on their website, yet for several months I felt like I was always trying to get started, rather than budgeting. Are there YNAB coaches? Or can you point me to a specific resource that breaks it down?

When would it be possible to completely lose a sense of rhythm?

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 19:15:20 GMT

In wondering whether my dog enjoys having his paws moved to the beat of a song, I wondered whether one can have a sense of rhythm without a sense of math? Or, can one lack a sense of rhythm completely? I guess another way of saying this is: is there an equivalent of colorblindness for rhythm? Not just a tone-deafness, but a complete inability to perceive it? If so, what causes it? It seems to me like it should be related to the ability to understand math, but maybe it is something else?

For example, if you could perform an operation that completely removed a person's understanding of all mathematical concepts (including number sense, basic arithmetic, etc.), or if someone had a stroke completely affecting the "rhythm core," would that person then lose the ability to follow a rhythm, and/or appreciate it?

I imagine that my dog, with presumably no mathematical sense (except say an innate good sense of calculating his own velocity for jumps, gravity, etc.) doesn't care if I wave his paws to the beat. However, I, myself, as a music lover (but very poor dancer) still love to move my head to the beat, tap my toe, etc. If I couldn't follow a beat, at all (e.g., if it were just static) would I enjoy it?

Thinking of taking home off the market until next spring

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 19:12:26 GMT

Is it a good idea to take a home off the market for the winter.

We live in a suburban (almost rural) neighborhood west of Boston. Our home has been on the market for a few months but has not sold. We have done a price reduction but are hesitant to do another since the market in our town tends to be slow this time of year and we would like to position it for sale in the Spring (when the market tends to be hotter in our area).
Additional factors:
Waiting out the winter would no be a terrible hardship.
We still live nearby and can maintain the residence.
There is still a mortgage but at this point most goes to principal.

The question is, would we be better off removing from the market for the fall/winter and resisting in the Spring vs. leaving the property on the market? We realize that the price history shows that the listing was removed but feel it would look better as removed and re-listed, is this valid reasoning?

Does anyone know how kids' brains develop?

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 18:19:30 GMT

I'm curious if the hivemind knows how much people have studied how kids develop mentally. Sure, we know there are intellectual milestones that kids achieve at different rates, etc, etc.. But how much variation is there? Or for a specific example, if a kid seems a bit slower than his/her peers in kindergarten -- how often will that slowness persist through to high school? Do some kids have an epiphany in 6th grade, like a mental growth spurt?

Or conversely, if a kid is recognized as "really smart" in 2nd grade, how often is that kid just "average" by high school? Is there any good measure of intelligence at any age?

Geographically diverse podcasts; generic or in specific fields

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 17:49:48 GMT

What are some great podcasts that talk about things from around the world and not only, or mostly, from any specific country?

I have noticed that many good podcasts are either country specific, or region specific. For example, Revisionist History talks mostly about issues and events from the USA. And while they are good I feel disconnected from them after an extent.

Same goes for Serial and even Radiolab. Or LORE, or Criminal. Well, as far as Serial is concerned that is kind of obvious as this podcast is from the creators of the show This American Life. I loved S-Town too and while it was indeed about a small town in USA it was a very different kind of podcast. Also, it was a series consisting of just few episodes.

I would like to follow podcasts which, let's say, one day talk about something from Russia, next day from Oslo, then Tokyo, Hanoi, Delhi, Chile and so on. That kind of diversity keeps my interest intact I think.

I like History Hit. It deals with diverse topics from history and from various places (even though a little more focussed on Europe).

I have looked at some MeFi threads like this one - What is the best episode of the podcast? and the one on movie discussion podcasts but I thought maybe this specific question has not been touched upon here on MeFi.

Please suggest anything interesting. However to make it easier to recommend - my preferred areas of interest are - espionage, history, crime, mystery, and literature. And follow some more podcasts like Revolutions, Martyr Made, Hardcore History, and Tides of History.

Best remedies to avoid getting sick?

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 16:11:14 GMT

Mr. Circle and I leave in 3 days for the month-long European vacation of our dreams. I woke up this morning feeling like crap. Congested and exhausted. I blew it off as allergies and took some Flonase, but I'm feeling worse. What is my best defense to keep from getting sick, besides going home and going back to bed?

Added difficulty: a coworker thoughtfully baked myself and another employee a cake for our birthdays, that's being served this afternoon. I'd feel terrible leaving today.

Seeking a fee-based financial planner in Austin

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 16:06:35 GMT

I am looking for recommendations for a fee-based financial planner who is also experienced in student loan debt. I have looked at a few websites but would like to know if there is anyone in the area you would recommend. Sites I have consulted: XY Planning Network, Let's Make a Plan, NAPFA, and Garrett Planning Network.