On How To Get EU Citizenship, Country By Country

This is just one data point, but I had a friend whose parents immigrated to the US from Italy as young adults; she told me that she was able to get an Italian passport but her younger siblings were not, because her father had become a US citizen between her birth and the birth of her younger sister. In practice I wonder if her younger siblings could've done it if they had jumped through more hoops. Another potential backdoor: Spain recently declared that, to atone for kicking all the Jews out in 1492, Sephardic Jews can get Spanish citizenship. Since the time period is so long, you obviously don't have to be able to trace your ancestry back to a specfiic Spanish Jew, but you do need to show that you're a member of a Sephardic synagogue of good standing, as my wife and I quickly discovered (her father's father's side of the family are Sephardim from Panama, but it's not enough). Meanwhile, my great-grandfather was a Hungarian Jew who immigrated to the US -- I wonder if that would count as "Hungarian" for the current government's standards (not that I have any real desire to learn enough Hungarian to get the passport).

Posted on November 20, 2014 at 4:06 pm 0

On A Follow-Up on the Uber $362 Car Ride Story

My problem with "oh you agreed to 9X surge pricing so you should've known" is that with none of these apps do you learn what exactly is being multiplied by 9 until after the fact. There's no meter, so who knows? If it's something you do regularly, you start to get a sense of it, but I've taken Uber around baltimore and never paid more than $10-15 and so I can see being surprised.

Posted on November 6, 2014 at 5:16 pm 2

On Checking the Transactions

I always find it slightly unnerving that the "location" of airline charges is usually their corporate HQ. United charges always show up as being made in Chicago; Southwest charges look like they're from Dallas.

Posted on October 21, 2014 at 10:33 am 0

On It's Heating Season In New York City

@garli everyone here said "Oh, you don't need window units in LA," which is clearly false and we were very glad we bought window units.

Posted on October 20, 2014 at 2:25 pm 0

On It's Heating Season In New York City

I too am always flabbergasted to learn anew that in NYC apartment buildings it’s considered standard operating procedure to have one thermostat for the entire building. Is there anywhere else in the country this is true? (BTW Meghan, if the thermostat is in your apartment, does that mean that … you can just turn it up? For everyone in the building?) Everywhere I’ve lived — and I’ve lived in several apartment buildings, though none of them in NYC — everyone had individual temperature controls in their apartments, even though in one case this just meant turning the steam radiator on or off with a little knob on the side. Meanwhile, having moved to Los Angeles six weeks ago, I am learning anew that California is warm but California houses are not insulated so if it’s 58 degrees outside at night it’s also 58 degrees inside at night! Last night we turned on one of our baseboard heaters for the first time. These are the only heat source in the house and are basically just space heaters that happen to be physcially attached to the wall. There are two of them, one in our bedroom and one in my office. So far I am … not impressed by their heating powers. But at least my landlord isn’t in charge of when they turn on and off!

Posted on October 20, 2014 at 1:25 pm 0

On What Your Sex Life Has to do with Barry Diller and Diane Von Furstenberg

*does math* he's ... he's gone on 11 first dates a month for the past six months?

Posted on October 13, 2014 at 4:11 pm 0

On It Don’t Mean a Thing If You Don’t Do 1 Thing

Also, I am old enough and fusty enough to not mind writing or cashing checks -- like, you can cash checks using a cell phone app now? it's not that big a deal. Plus how else are you supposed to get large and/or specific amounts of money to people who don't have Paypal or a Square reader or something? But on that note: yesterday we had technicians from the local appliance store come by to investigate why two of the burners on the beautiful art deco antique stove in our house suddenly stopped working. The answer turned out to be very simple and they showed me how I could fix it if it happened again, and they were there so briefly they only charged $25 for the visit ... but they didn't want to take a check, which I thought was weird. What would they have done if it had been a bigger bill? Maybe they'd have taken a check then? In the event I actually only had $22 in cash, which they were happy to take, which I found even weirder. Then they asked if they could have some lemons from the tree in our front yard, which has a million lemons and I was happy to let them have as many as they wanted, so I guess that was a fair trade. Los Angeles is a weird and mellow place, I am discovering!

Posted on October 9, 2014 at 1:51 pm 1

On It Don’t Mean a Thing If You Don’t Do 1 Thing

I am in most of the way through my multi-step One Thing, which is getting the Homestead Tax Credit taken off the property taxes of the house in Baltimore we used to live in but now rent out. The tax credit is there to make sure your property taxes don't go up more than 4 percent a year no matter how much the assessed value of your house goes up, but it only is available for owner-occupied properties. Since my wife bought the house in 2001, right before the real estate boom hit Baltimore, the credit for us is pretty substantial even after all this time. This task involves writing a letter to the Baltimore City tax authorities which they'll hopefully act on and also getting our bank to increase the amount they put into our escrow account; the upshot is that we'll be paying about $80 a month more on our mortgage payment.

Posted on October 9, 2014 at 1:45 pm 0

On What Will You Do With Your Extra $200?

Social Security taxes are regressive taxes. You pay less as you make more! And you don't pay any on investment income (guess who gets much of their income in the form of investment income, SPOILER ALERT: rich people). Remember when Mitt Romney complained about the 47 percent who paid no income taxes? Well, he didn't pay social security tax on the vast majority of his income, while those 47 percent mostly do, so probably they paid more of their income as federal taxation than he did!

Posted on September 30, 2014 at 11:33 am 0

On The Cost of Missing Your Flight

My wife and I missed a flight out of Seattle (though they were able to rebook us on a flight that day) because I misread the boarding time on our tickets as the flight time. We were even in the airport, but just sauntering around the food/shopping area, where the PA system over which they were repeatedly calling our names apparently weren't audible. I was genuinely surprised that we weren't charged extra for a mistake that was obviously 100% our fault. I suppose flights are always overbooked so it's not like our seat went empty, but still!

Posted on September 17, 2014 at 6:47 pm 0