Saturday, January 31, 2009

Rant on the Economy and Government Intervention

Adrian sent me this link a few days ago. His alma mater, Grove City College, publishes semi-regular articles of interest - on current issues, politics, economics, etc. - via The Center for Vision and Values. Grove City is really big into the Austrian school of economics, as is not surprising from this article. Anyway, I'd highly suggest the article; it's a very interesting read. "On Economic Depressions, Then and Now?" is a discussion of depression-era government intervention, and how FDR did more to hinder the U.S. economy than to help it, and how World War II did not bring us out of the great depression.

This article is great stuff, but here's the problem: Americans are too stupid and driven by feeling instead of facts for such truths to take effect. We feel like Bush is to blame for the economy, so he must be. We feel like government intervention will help, so no matter how much good, solid reasoning is thrown our way, it won't change our minds. For that matter, it can't possibly change our minds because we won't even bother to read it.

This is why an unliterary society with popular election is so dangerous! If the discontented and uninformed populace is personally electing officials, they will disgruntingly vote out incumbents who make informed-but-unpopular decisions, because the public wants the congress to cater to their whims. That puts us much closer to a democracy than the original intended republic. Which is why it was a major mistake to change our constitution to allow the popular election of senators. But I digress. . .

By "stupid Americans", I mean we are unliterary. We don't read, or we don't read deeply. We choose ignorance; it isn't thrust upon us. Americans form opinions from the news media, largely, and the media is driven by sensationalism and what the public wants to hear, not by common sense and trying to intelligently change the public's minds. Can you imagine a media effort to convince the public of the facts in the GCC article? Yeah, right! That would be really popular. Why? Because it's not what the public wants to hear.

The public wants to hear that our recession is the result of political mistakes or a few unwise large businesses. They don't want to hear that the solution is for the people to work out the problems themselves via good entrepreneurship, wise spending habits, personal efforts to teach the poor to fish (instead of just feeding them fish), etc. They don't want to hear that their own godlessness in the form of chasing the idol of consumerism is the real problem. It's so much better to think that someone else (read: "Uncle Sam") is the only solution. Whining is much more fun than action. Only thing is, where do we think Uncle Sam gets his funds?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Organizing :-)

I've been creating a spreadsheet of all the baby/toddler items and clothes that I have - by size, color, gender, style, etc. I do this because I have OCD. Or because I'm type A. Or because it makes thrift shopping a TON easier, and I hopefully now won't end up with 30 warm-weather boy print onesies in the same size (not that I'm speaking from experience. . . *cough*).

Before, all the clothes were stored in cardboard boxes, by size. Then I hit a great after-Christmas sale, where I got to capitalize on the fact that there is actually a market for Christmas-colored storage boxes, and Wal-mart bought too many :-). So I got a bunch of green 18 gallon Sterilite containers for $4 each, and I've been transferring stored clothing to those. This is especially nice since our basement isn't quite waterproof in a heavy rain. But I digress.

I also decided to transfer a few other items to Sterilite storage, like all my maternity clothes. That's what I've been doing just now. Hans is currently totally zonked on my back. Apparently the activity wasn't quite as interesting to him as it was to me. He hasn't gotten my psycho organizing genes, that I know of. But anyway, awwww, so many fun memories with my maternity clothes. I was remembering how much I liked this top or that one, or that skirt. Pregnancy wasn't actually that bad for me for the most part, minus aching hips, not being able to turn over in bed, etc. ;-) I had forgotten how many nice maternity clothes I'd had.

Now if only I can get Hans to figure out that solid food is a good thing, then maybe I'd get to use those clothes again sometime soon ;-). Right now ecological breastfeeding is very effectively preventing that. . . But on the bright side, I'm enjoying this not-throwing-up thing, especially at a time when I have several friends pregnant and queasy. But yay for babies! Always good news :-).

Monday, January 26, 2009

Am I the only one? . . .

So, when I got married I had the best of intentions to have a weekly menu. All the cool kids were doing it. EVERY frugal blog you read lists menu planning as a reliable way to save money. And then you don't have to put daily energy into food ponderings - What am I going to fix today? I kept a menu for the first month or so, and it worked okay. It sure made grocery shopping pretty easy. Then I got pregnant.

All menu plans went out the window. I was just trying to keep anything down, and I fixed whatever I thought would take the least amount of stand-up time, smell the least, and be most likely to stay down. Any dish that I knew about hours in advance would not work! I had to cook on a whim.

After my nausea left I tried to resume meal planning, but I found out some things. First, I like to not be too tied down to a meal plan. I like food surprises! When I make a casserole, for example (see link a few posts back), I pull out some chicken to thaw maybe at lunch, but I like to not decide what type of casserole I'm making (rice, pasta, add mushrooms or not, etc.) until suppertime. It's more exciting!

Second, I can just stock up on staple items and still not have to constantly run to the store for "one more item" . . . most of the time.

Third, despite all the frugal claims, for me, I cook more frugally when I don't have a meal plan. I'm serious! When I'm at the grocery store, I tend to buy the more economical ingredients, with a few splurges, so when I'm cooking, I end up using ingredients I have on hand, which are the more economical ones. But if I meal plan, I'm not as aware which ingredients are cheaper, so I end up buying a lot of more pricey items that I need for specific recipes. I may or may not know the ingredients are pricier, as the prices fluctuate from week to week, even for staples. So I end up spending more. Whereas if I buy more staple items (and note on my grocery list when I want more specific items, which I don't mind buying. . . but not ALL specialty items), I still cook quite tasty, healthy meals, but for much less.

Has anyone else had the same experience?

Trying to "Winter" this Winter

I miss my daily walks :-/. I think Hans misses them too - he loved them! But it's just too cold for his mama to get out every day. Granted it's nothing like it could be, as my I-spent-4-years-in-Minnesota husband reminds me ;-), but for this I-spent-23-years-in-Georgia girl, yet, it's too cold! At least for daily walks.

Mainly I'm getting my exercise these days by doing household chores with Hans strapped to my back. I <3 my Ergo :-). I usually do dishes and most cooking with Hans in the Ergo, because our kitchen is small (sort of galley-style), and there isn't a good floor place for him to play while I do stuff in there. And also I hang laundry in the basement with him on my back. At my neighbor's suggestion, I strung several clotheslines in the basement and have been hanging our laundry for almost 2 months now. It's nice mild exercise with little guy (make that 18ish lb guy) strapped on, and the theory is that it's lowering our electric bill. And it delays us having to get another dryer. . . yet. I'm sure we'll get one soon (Adrian has told me whenever I want), but for now it's kind of fun.

Hans cut his first two teeth last week. We've been having some less-than-sound-sleeping at nights as a result. They're not all the way up, but very distinctly teeth now, when he chooses to show them to us. The best way to do this is to lay him in my lap and tickle him. Hehe. Adrian thinks (and I agree) that Hans has the cutest laugh. Ever. Right now he's on the floor talking to a water bottle and growling at it. He's doing this half drag, half crawl thing nowadays, which is pretty cute. No real crawling yet.

Last week I decided to introduce him to the world of food-that-is-not-breastmilk. He didn't take kindly to the idea. He alternated gagging, shuddering, and fussing. I tried banana, and a few nights later carrot and then potato. No success. He'll have to get used to the idea soon ;-). Mommy's Diner won't be available all his life. He was 7 months on January 18th, by the way.

I still have an obsession with sewing cloth diapers. I got a snap press a few months ago, and I love it! Easily a very good purchase. In the long run it'll be quite useful for all sorts of things, not just diapers. I've already been using it for other things, in fact. I haven't taken many pictures of my latest cloth diapers, but they are a major improvement on my first ones.

I'm going to *try* to post a bit more. No promises. I don't have a ton of free time for blogging, so probably they'll mainly be shorter posts, no long detailed treatises. Maybe a recipe here, a daily anecdote there. Or an isn't-my-son-adorable-go-to-this-picture link. Hmm. I seem to be in a dash mood today :-).

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Casserole Tutorial and a New Blog

I've been meaning to post a general tutorial on casserole-making, but never got around to it. I finally did. . . just not on this blog. Check out my friend's new blog, Share It, and read my post on making casseroles.

New Look

There. I changed the layout, the title, the byline, the sidebar. New skin!

Here are more Facebook pictures: