On Riding The Rails: The Sad State of America's Trains

@MemphisBlues The 'take action to reduce it' part - by automatically slowing the train, driver error is prevented from causing crashes.

Posted on May 15, 2015 at 7:45 pm 0

On Say Goodbye To Your Little Friend (Avocado)

@may june july That's because, while animals are a more intense water user, they are many fewer of them raised in California. Top water users, as far as I know: Alfalfa hay - 15% of total (about 30% is exported, most of the rest is used in dairies, rather than for meat production; meat animals usually eat grain from the midwest) Almonds - 10% All residential use (including the much-vilified green lawns and swimming pools, as well as things like laundry and drinking water) - 8% Not sure where avocados rank on the list, but if I have to pick between almonds and milk, cheese and yogurt, I know which product I'm going to advocate for removing from the desert.

Posted on April 24, 2015 at 11:27 am 2

On Would You Ever Tell a Friend That They Were Making Bad Financial Decisions?

I would absolutely tell a friend if I thought the were making a large, difficult to recover from, mistake, of whatever sort (financial, relatioship, career). That's kind of what friendship (good-friend friendship, not friendly-acquaintance friendship) is about, no? Someone who cares about you and is honest with you. If the friend decides to do it anyway, well, that's up to them, and you support them through it without any I-told-you-so's, but to just watch someone close to you sign up for a world of hurt without saying anything seems so callous.

Posted on April 21, 2015 at 2:18 pm 0

On The Business of Sitting on Airplanes

@guenna77 Huh, my experience with southwest has not been like that. Possibly you're remembering the bad old days 5+ years ago when you got a/b/c based on airport arrival times? These days, it's a fully ordered list based on who pays more/checks in online first, and people are generally very pleasant about respecting that boarding order. I've only ever found people in my seat on other airlines when they had made a mistake, and they generally apologize and move immediately. Except for one awesome time that it was the airline's fault, and we were both assigned the same seat. He'd gotten there first, so they upgraded me to first class.

Posted on April 17, 2015 at 12:02 am 0

On Getting Feedback After a Job Rejection

I've been asked this a couple times (usually for feedback right after an interview), and always give a vague-but-encouraging answer regardless of how the candidate did. This is for a couple reasons: 1) IANAL - I generally neither have nor want the authority to speak officially for my company, and definitely don't want to appear to be doing so in a situation that's likely to involve hurt feelings on someone's part. I simply don't know enough to know if I'm using some specially-defined term in a general, common-usage sense (like 'market', for instance) that might open the company up to an entirely spurious lawsuit. 2) If they did well, then vague-but-encouraging is pretty accurate. 3) If they did poorly, the interview is generally only long enough for me to figure out they can't demonstrate the skills they'd need to work at my company. It is not long enough to figure out why (concepts don't click? never learned it? freezes up in interviews? needs more practice?). Telling someone 'you are generally bad at your chosen field' is pretty mean and unhelpful, so if that's the only feedback I have, I'm not going to give it.

Posted on April 16, 2015 at 11:54 pm 0

On Here's A Foolproof Idea: Let's Pay Sarah Silverman Less Than A Dude!

So, I'm all for people asking for raises/negotiating, but I think it's worth pointing out that what women are concerned about here (58% were afraid of losing their job/offer; 55% didn’t want to come across as pushy) is actually a real problem. Plenty of research shows that women who negotiate are seen as less pleasant to work with (http://www.newyorker.com/science/maria-konnikova/lean-out-the-dangers-for-women-who-negotiate has a good summary of the research), so the choice is often between negotiating but starting out on a bad footing with your boss, or accepting a lower offer in exchange for a good rapport/chance of better performance evaluations down the line. I'd be a fan of seeing more companies follow Reddit's lead, given that this sort of unconscious bias is really difficult to eradicate.

Posted on April 9, 2015 at 12:13 pm 4

On "What About Presents?": How My Relationship Changed When We Merged Finances

@steponitvelma This is what my partner and I do (joint account that we each contribute to monthly for joint expenses, separate accounts for everything else). We're not as strict about accounting as the couple in the article, and we have about a 1 month buffer in the shared account, which makes this easier, since we can transfer in our half of a shared expense after the fact. If you're running the shared account pretty close to 0 each month, I can imagine it would be tricky to use it to pay for things like travel/dinners out where the price isn't completely known beforehand.

Posted on April 8, 2015 at 4:12 pm 0

On Last Minute Taxes Reminder! Complete With Help

@RocketSurgeon If he doesn't have the originals/only copies of the docs you need, just do your taxes online/somewhere else, and send him a short note saying that you don't need him to do them. You agreed to pay him so that things get done by a certain time, and if you haven't seen any drafts, I think it's fair to say that he's well past a reasonable deadline.

Posted on April 8, 2015 at 4:04 pm 0

On New Chart Lists Middle Class Income in Each State

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/01/15/business/one-percent-map.html is a great calculator that takes into account metro areas. For instance, using the above definitions and NYTimes data, the upper bound of middle class for the state is $91,800. For Nassau County (aka Long Island), it's $174,600. What I find really interesting is the fact that the number of households in that range is shrinking - it's not just that the rich are getting richer, or that the poor are getting poorer. It's that the folks in the middle are getting pushed into one bucket or the other (usually poorer). Also, fun fact: the upper bound of 'middle class' across the state of CA is equal to the median income for the San Jose metro (aka Silicon Valley).

Posted on April 6, 2015 at 11:36 pm 1

On How Do You Know When to Stop Spending?

@mado0205 @mado0205 We pay for almost nothing in cash, which helps, and I can bug him if the name of the company on the CC bill is cryptic. There is an 'other' category in the budget for things that are likely one-offs and don't fit anywhere else (like dry-cleaning, which I think we've done once in the last year?). I also tend to adjust categories based on what we're spending on (added a 'take-out' category when 'eating out' became too broad), which helps.

Posted on April 6, 2015 at 6:09 pm 0